Thursday, July 11, 2013

When It's Best to Just Shut Up

We're celebrating fifteen years of marriage today.  And for the sake of reminiscing, I'm sharing a few pictures of a certain young, innocent (& pretty clueless) couple back in the day on July 11, 1998:

On one hand, I cannot believe it's been that long.  On another, I cannot believe it's only been that long.

In fifteen years of marriage, I'd like to think I've learned a thing or two about living blissfully with my man. 

Things like respecting and honoring and trusting and supporting.  All really good things.  And about listening and observing and encouraging and praying.  All really great things. 

But one of the biggest lessons I'm afraid I'll still be learning until the whole "death do we part" thing can be summed up by any one of these phrases:

Be quiet.
Zip it.
Close your mouth.
Silencio, por favor.
Hold your tongue.
Shut up.

However you choose to say it, they all mean the same thing.

Don't. Say. Another. Word.

I know the last one on the list sounds harsh.  Believe me, it sounded harsh fifteen years when it was said in my very own wedding my husband's friend and college mentor who was co-officiating the ceremony. 

After the vows, ring exchange, and unity candle, our friend stopped to take a moment to offer some personal words of wisdom and encouragement to both of us before we were announced as husband and wife.

He started with my husband.  He recalled a time in college when he felt my husband was holding back emotionally.  He emphasized the vital importance of him sharing his innermost feelings.  Of being open and vulnerable, even when it was hard.  Of trusting someone else (namely me, the new wife) with both his pains and his joys.

Then our friend shifted his attention to me.  He began with a story of another couple he'd counseled.  He told how the wife had come to him expressing her dissatisfaction with her husband's leadership and asked his advice as to what she should do.  Our friend said he knew the answer.  She just needed to "shut quiet...and pray".  His implication:  I may need to do the same whenever I felt the same.

It was a stereotypical gender analysis.  Man needs to talk more, woman less. 

At first, I bristled.  I didn't like the way it sounded to my ears.  Even as gentle and as calm and as kind as he tried to say it, he still said it.  He said the words, "shut up" in my wedding ceremony and I was stunned.

Naive and inexperienced, I certainly had no idea how to navigate the waters of a godly marriage.  I had no idea what was ahead and had no idea how much I needed to hear those words.  But our friend apparently did.  He knew I'd need to hear them.  Maybe not then, but most definitely later.  Especially fifteen years later.

There are certainly times when it's beneficial and appropriate to speak up; I do not condone being a doormat.  As a matter of fact, I come from a long, female bloodline of "non-doormats".  But other times, I must confess.  It's best to just shut up.

So yes, I'm still learning this:

I spend most of my days overseeing, managing, correcting and teaching my girls.  I do all of this and all of that.  I'm a caretaker and a mama...just not my husband's.

And at no time do I desire to be this...

"A nagging spouse is like the drip, drip, drip of a leaky faucet;
You can't turn it off, and you can't get away from it."
Proverbs 27:15-16 (The Message)
No ma'am.  No sir.

Instead, I'd rather choose to:

*respect versus reprimand.
*encourage instead of enrage.
*agree instead of argue.
*consider instead of correct.

When I forget (and I will), I hope to call to mind the story of Daniel in the lion's den. 

I will try to remember the ferocious, ready-to-devour beasts as they stood before one of God's children.

And I will remember how an angel of the Lord was sent to still the lions.  To shut their mouths so they could not hurt or wound (Daniel 6:22a).  All because of prayer.

Harsh?  Maybe.  But sometimes harsh makes you think.  Especially when it's also true.  And helpful.  And inspiring.  And necessary.  And kind. 

So I finish with this:

Thanks to my pastor for this gem. :)
Lord, I know there's a time for everything.  
There's a time to speak and a time to be silent (Ecclesiastes 3:7b). 
Give me the wisdom to know the difference. 
Shut my mouth if what I'm about to say is not true, helpful, inspiring, necessary and kind.  
And may you richly bless the next fifteen+ years of my marriage as you have the first fifteen.  


  1. this is so true, and God has been showing me this EXACT thing for the last 2 years.

    it all started with this verse:

    "3 Wives, in the same way submit yourselves to your own husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives, 2 when they see the purity and reverence of your lives."

    uh, hello.."without words".

    enough said. ;)

    love you, friend!

  2. How timely and how like-minded is your comment, Jill! That exact verse and that exact phrase, ("without words") was originally on my mind to include here because reading it a few weeks ago helped to prompt this post. Of course "without words" is a whole lot nicer way of saying, "shut up." :) Thanks for your comment and your encouragement!


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...