Apologies for the lateness of this post. I had no idea what to write about today, so I waited until I felt inspired. That inspiration waited until 11pm to arrive, and now I’m writing this.
Let’s think about that: if I didn’t have anything to write about today, would I write? Yes, because I have made a commitment to myself and you to write something here every week. It’s a goal of mine for 2014, and so I need to stick to it. Even if I don’t know what to say, I will force myself to say something because I promised I would. But let me make this explicitly clear: that is an exception. In all other areas of life (besides, perhaps, when you are required to give a speech), when you don’t have anything to say, much more often than not it is better to not say anything at all.
We as people talk a LOT. More than 500 million Tweets are posted every day. On average, that’s six billion, seven-hundred ninety million words. That’s just over ninety thousand, eight-hundred sixty-five copies of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. That’s a lot of words, and that’s just Tweets, almost all of which are completely unnecessary. So why say them? Taking captive our thoughts, and the words that come from those thoughts, is a lost art, and one we all need to consider taking back.
It’s remarkable to me how much harm comes from simply saying something when you shouldn’t. Take my case, for example: when it came out that my ex-fiancé was sleeping with my best friend, people were shocked (obviously). And most of them had no idea what to say. How do you respond to something like that? Do you offer condolences or advice or Bible verses or personal experience? What do you do? What do you say? In my opinion, saying nothing is better than saying something when you don’t know what to say.
Because, especially when someone is hurting, words can be the most important things. Important: as in, they can help towards healing. Important: as in, they can utterly destroy a wounded soul. There were people who, when they heard what happened, told me things along the lines of, “Everything will okay in the end. Everything works out for good.” And even though those words were so true, they hurt because they were not what I needed to hear. In fact, the people who simply said, “That [insert expletive here…probably some derivative of the f-word].” and gave me a huge hug as I laughed at their bluntness — those were the people whose words meant the most. They weren’t intrusive, they weren’t insightful; but silence can be such a gift to people whose minds are reeling with the noise of catastrophe. Just having a person there to come alongside and listen and breathe in silence can be so restorative to that wounded soul.
Today, I didn’t know what to say here. I thought about it all day long, but had no words. Perhaps in the instances when our brains are quiet, it’s best our mouths should be too. Because a well-placed silence can be just as comforting as a well-placed word any day.