I started a full-time job at Chick-fil-A on Monday and have spent most of 9 hours a day serving guests in the restaurant. I didn't realize how much time I spent talking until I started losing my voice half-way through my shift yesterday. By the time I finished at 7:30pm, the cracking and scratchy hoarseness was quite obvious. This morning, it was totally gone. I found myself using a whiteboard and markers just to communicate what we were going to eat for breakfast. So I lived today mostly voiceless, and here are a few quick things I learned from it.
less to say
Over and over, I was about to open my mouth and speak, then remembered I couldn't. The thoughts I was about to verbalize stopped in my throat and went unheard. And I realized that 99% of the time, that was okay. Those comments or questions or stories or opinions weren't nearly as necessary as I'd imagined.
more to hear
The less I spoke, the more I heard what others were saying. This is a simple enough principle to understand, but one of which I constantly need to be reminded.
It was interested to notice that as soon as my sisters realized that I wasn't talking, they also spoke less. Nothing was keeping them from talking, even just with each other, but there was a growing awareness of the significance of what was said. Only really important things were needed to be said out loud. It made me wonder just how much of the overwhelming amount of modern communication is essentially continued responses, retorts, answers, and replies to topics or subjects that could simply be left silent? maybe then the topics of real important would truly stand out from the rest.
Going to gather with our church at 10:30 this morning, I was already getting tired of not being able to talk. At home it was easy enough; we all had our morning routines and I could write out anything necessary on the whiteboard. But even in the 10 minutes before the service, I was having a hard time with simple "hi, how are you" conversations with my friends. They sometimes couldn't understand my hoarse attempts to speak, and other times the questions I wanted to ask them simply were too complicated to try and articulate. Even in the musical worship at the beginning, I wanted to sing out the harmony, but couldn't even make a sound. I mouthed the words, and just tried to listen to God. Before long, He was putting people and things on my heart to pray for. I started praying, sometimes by mouthing the words of the song, sometimes mouthing the desires of my heart. And I realized that God could hear me. I know, it's simple and obvious. But I was struck again by how despite the silence I felt a little locked into, my voice was just as loud and powerful in prayer.
On the way to church this morning, mom turned on the radio. The song that was starting to play began with these words, and I was overwhelmed at their poignancy for today:
I'm finding myself at a loss for words
And the funny thing is it's okay
The last thing I need is to be heard
But to hear what You would say.
That's my prayer for today, for tomorrow, for every day in silence or in noise. I want to hear my Father, and I want to hear others. Teach my to pray, teach me to listen.
Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.