Friday, September 21, 2012

Donald Miller's Tongue

What good is a phone call if you're unable to speak?

"At first, even though I could feel God writing something different, I'd play the scene the way I wanted. This never worked. It would always have been better to obey the Writer, the one who knows the better story. I'd talk poorly about somebody and immediately know I'd done it because I was insecure, and I'd know I was a weak character who was jealous and undisciplined.

So I started obeying a little. I'd feel God wanting me to hold my tongue, and I would.

It didn't feel natural at first; it felt fake, like I was being a character somebody else wanted me to be and not who I actually was; but if I held my tongue, the scene would play better, and I always felt better when it was done.

I started feeling like a better character, and when you are a better character, your story gets better too.

At first the feeling was only about holding my tongue. And when I learned to hold my tongue a bit, the Voice guided me from the defensive to the intentional. God wanted me to do things, to help people, to volunteer or write a letter or talk to my neighbor. Sometimes I'd do the thing God wanted, and the story always went well, of course; and sometimes I'd ignore it and watch television. But by this time I really came to believe the Voice was God, and God was trying to write a better story."

from A Million Miles in a Thousand Years by Donald Miller

This reminded me of a verse from the lectionary that got my attention a week or two ago:

"If any think they are religious, and do not bridle their tongues but deceive their hearts, their religion is worthless." ~ James 1:26

Seriously, I love this guy.

As a seminarian avowedly jealous of stand-up comedians for all the things they are allowed to say and I am not, this verse has a special relevance to me. I like to talk loud and freely and am usually at my happiest when I take as many filters off as possible. But I find again and again that my friends are not nearly so enamored with my verbal kaleidoscope as I am.

Seeking more intentionality in my words is, frankly, a chore. And I feel fake for doing it. But I think I'm learning that loving my neighbor means feeling fake sometimes. I like to think of myself as a natural wit worthy of reverence and--especially so--attention, but, really, I'm not. And if I want to keep on being the kind of person who speaks their mind, who makes themselves consistently vulnerable through speech, I need to be willing to recognize that not everything that comes out of my mouth and my heart is something that people want to hear about. And I need to be willing to examine the heart and mind producing these words, and to bear all of the above in day to day repentance, reconciliation and renewal with the Father.

1 comment:

Seretha Curry said...

Coolio. I really like Foster's chapter on Silence in his book on the spiritual disciplines. Changed my life. Made me shut up a lot. Made me love silence and devote myself to giving my speech over to Jesus and letting him rework my Voice from the inside out. Which he'll never be done with, I imagine.