10 Days Without Speech
FRUSTRATION! The kind that makes my head boil and sends a rush of adrenaline to my heart and hands. Right now, my heart is beating fast, my arms are shaking, and I’m ready to explode. You might think from this description, that someone just harmed my family and I want revenge. Or maybe you think that I’m frustrated because I’m being treated unfairly by my boss or a coworker – but that’s not it either.
I’m frustrated because someone just said something that I didn’t agree with, but I can’t write fast enough to defend my point of view! Do you know how frustrating it is to have a debate with someone via whiteboard? I get in maybe 1 word for every 15 sentences that they get on the table. I have so many things to say, and I want to defend my point so badly, but I just can’t – not without breaking my commitment to going 10 days without speech.
In a way this is good because instead of throwing up all of the words I would normally cast into the fire of argumentation – I actually think through my words before I say them. Wow! What a novel idea, thinking before speaking!
The Bible talks a lot about the tongue and it’s power. In James, it says the tongue is like a little rudder on a massive cruise-liner (I’m taking a little liberty here) that literally directs it’s every move. Or stronger yet, something that all of us Coloradans understand, the tongue is like a spark that can burn up the entire forest. (James 3)
For those of you who don’t know, Colorado Springs, where I live, had the biggest natural disaster it has ever faced just last week. From my office window, I watched the flames from an out-of-control wildfire shoot down and consume an entire mountainside in 40 minutes. That night I went up on a hill and watched the valley burn as 347 houses went up in flames. It looked like a war zone, the kind of footage you would see on CNN. I can say without a doubt that fire is powerful.
Because I can’t use my tongue in this argument, two things have happened:
- As I’ve already mentioned, I’m actually thinking through what I say before I write it down. Not only do I not have regrets, but I’ve had to pick my words wisely actually owning each one.
- The argument has slowed down a lot. When I get frustrated I tend to get overwhelmed by waves of emotion — this causes me to talk faster and spew whatever words come to mind. But today, because I have to write everything down, I can’t say what I want to say fast enough. By the time I finish my sentence or two of retort the emotional wave is gone, and I have time to process whether my point is actually valid or just stupid.
I might have just learned two amazing principles about arguing with people. What if, even after I can talk again, I write down my arguments instead of speaking them? I bet the arguments that I found myself in would be a lot less heated, and I wouldn’t say nearly as many things that I will regret later. I bet these arguments would even become healthy debates instead of simply falling into the trap of the straw man. Maybe there’s a benefit to this no speech thing after all!
As a side note. How do you think the people feel who get abused constantly and try to speak up, only to have their pleas for help ignored? Do you think that they feel like no one understands what they are going through or cares about what they have to say? Obviously my situation is fake because next week I can speak again and have people listen to me – but I bet the 11,000 prisoners in Kenya who are most likely innocent but have no representation feel a similar frustration to what I felt today. After all, no one is hearing what they have to say either. I can’t imagine what it would be like to be a prisoner knowing that I did nothing wrong.
READ THIS! – IJM sends their lawyers into those prisons to represent the 70% of prisoners that haven’t been convicted of anything. In fact, there is a cool story about a guy named Joseph that is worth reading (click here to see his story). Thanks to IJM he is now free. Just think for $325 we could pay for one of these innocent men to get 5 days of professional representation in court. We could even be responsible for paying for his freedom! To give click here.
Question of the day: Do you ever find yourself saying things you regret when you’re in a heated discussion or argument? Why do you think it’s so easy to loose control of our words when we are mad? You may comment below…
Remember, there is a $1,000 matching pledge for this segment. That means that if you and I can raise $1,000 for prisoners like Joseph, $2,000 will go to help setting them free!