Blessed Are Those Who Keep Their Mouths Shut

A Year of Being Kind blog – Wednesday, February 12, 2014

fruit of the Spirit

fruit of the Spirit

Blessed Are Those Who Keep Their Mouths Shut

Recently, I had another experience that showed me how blessed it is to keep my mouth shut.

It happened this way. I was in conversation with someone. I talk to a number of similar people, at least several times a week. I try to be courteous and kind. Naturally! Of course! It’s simply the way that I customarily operate.

But not this time. I don’t know quite what was the matter, but I must have felt out of sorts. Maybe I was tired or hungry. Or something. But for whatever reason, I had a short fuse. And I almost exploded in my acquaintance’s face while we were talking.

This situation reminds me of the fruit of the Spirit, from Galatians 5. I get the sneaking suspicion that I have a certain amount of most of these qualities—I have love, joy, peace, kindness, goodness. I’m pretty patient, gentle, and faithful. But the one where I consistently fall down is self-control. I do not have the best self-control in the world, especially when things can be really exciting, or fun, or good-tasting, or an awesome experience. No, my self-control does not rate very highly.   I’ve known about this difficulty with self-control for years. Decades, in fact. I have prayed about it off and on ever since. I’m still waiting.

I know that God is pleased with me when I’m involved with others. Or doing things for others. Could be showing kindness or love. Any way out of myself, and towards someone else.   We’ve already talked about how pleased God is because of acts of service. When a believer in God does something loving or honest, or exhibits attitudes that are kind or gentle, those kinds of actions can also be thought of as acts of service . . . for people in recovery, too.  One of the foundation principles of recovery is doing things for others—in other words, getting the focus away from “myself” and performing some act of service

But back to the story. As I mentioned, I had a conversation. I was somehow out of sorts. The other person made a comment that struck me as really silly. I was about to fire back with a sarcastic statement or cynical comment, when . . . I didn’t. Instead, I finished up the exchange with two or three more sentences and excused myself. So, I wouldn’t be further tempted to make any more snarky comments.

All I can say is, I am grateful to God for helping me to shut my mouth and keep it shut, instead of “flaming” others. To change up an old children’s rhyme, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can stay in my head and heart forever.” I am grateful and thankful that God helped me to stop before I said anything unwise or unkind. Words can hurt in a powerful way, and words can stay in the heart and mind for years. Thank God that I didn’t add to those mean, nasty words. Thank God that I was able to keep them to myself.

So, yes. My act of service in that particular situation was keeping my mouth closed.

@chaplaineliza

Hush Up!

A Year of Being Kind blog – Wednesday, January 8, 2014

runner wall decal

Hush Up!

Rhetorical question: am I doing an act of service if I keep my mouth closed?

Let me back up, and give some context to my question. After I dropped my son off at the high school in town, I went to the gym at the YMCA, as often is my practice. I really like using the track on the floor above the main gym most days. Today was no different. I quickly changed in the locker room and went upstairs, through the cardio and weight room through to the large gym. I had totally forgotten that this was Wednesday. (I usually don’t go to the gym on Wednesdays, for a variety of reasons. But I did today.)

As I warmed up and stretched, and started my workout on the track, I noticed some people coming in to the main gym. Oh, no! Today is Zumba day. Don’t get me wrong—I sometimes watch the people doing Zumba to the energetic, pounding music, and it’s wonderful cardio-vascular exercise. It’s the music that sometimes gets on my nerves. Today was particularly annoying. The first song that was played as I power-walked and jogged around the track had four chords. A four-chord progression, played over and over and over and . . . you get the idea. Repetitive, mind-numbing. It almost made me want to scream. It went on for seven minutes. (Yes, I watched the clock as I circled the track.)

I’m a classically-trained musician. Piano is my primary instrument, and composition was my emphasis for my undergraduate degree in music. I usually can “turn off my ears” and ignore or just not pay attention to poorly composed or performed music. But not today. As I went around the track for a good part of those seven minutes, I felt like giving someone a piece of my mind. Grrr! But I didn’t. It came to me (I suspect God brought this thought to me) that by complaining and kvetching to whatever unlucky YMCA staff member was on duty this morning, I really wouldn’t accomplish much of anything. The Y staff member would probably cluck his or her tongue, nod understandably and say, “There, there.” Or words to that effect. I know. I’ve worked in customer service, and that’s what I would have done in a similar situation.

Instead, I had another thought—also inspired by God, I think. This morning was an opportunity for me to practice forbearance and patience. Two fruits of the Spirit that are not as readily apparent in my character as they ought to be. I kept my mouth shut. I did not blow up or gripe to any Y staff or to the Zumba leader. People have a perfect right to listen to whatever kind of music that they like.

What about a positive act of service? Later, I saw another Y staff member wearing a really pretty sweater today. I smiled at her and gave her a sincere compliment on the sweater. She blossomed, telling me that her daughter had given her the sweater for Christmas, and she’d be sure to tell the daughter.

I think both were acts of service. I was proud of myself. And I think God was amused.

@chaplaineliza