Sweet Humiliation

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I talk a lot. Really, A LOT. I came out of the womb squawking and promptly fell in love with the sound of my own voice. By all accounts, I’ve been chatty from day one. I still remember being in fourth grade, riding the bus home and sitting next to my best friend. I was jabbering away and she said, “You have to stop talking! I feel like you’re draining all my energy!” For the first time, I realized not everyone loved the sound of my voice as much as me. It was a shocking moment.

I’ve often thought of that exchange since being born again. What exactly happened that led my 10 year-old friend to feel as though I was literally taking energy out of her body? “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places” (Eph. 6:12 KJV).

The Lord has shown me many things about my propensity to prattle. Sometimes it’s my wounds talking (something this blog’s dealt with previously), sometimes it’s pure selfishness, sometimes it’s zealotry, and sometimes it’s manipulation and control. This is a dealing that I’m brought back to over and over again, an ever-deeper repentance and surrender. And the hardest thing to accept is that each dealing is born of the wounding of another person.

There is nothing benign in my hijacking a conversation, or chaining someone to my soapbox, or holding a friend hostage to my tales of woe. It has taken the pain and hurt I inflicted on people I love to bring home the serious nature of my irresponsible and selfish tongue. And yesterday, the Lord allowed me to experience the full measure of a tormenting tongue to illuminate the plank in my eye even more clearly.

I learned that zeal for the Lord divorced from the Spirit can power a barrage of words from which escape is all but impossible. For 55 minutes, I didn’t matter or exist to this person. There was no heart connection whatsoever. They had something to say and wanted an ear and any ear would do. The “gun” in this hostage scenario was the order being placed, and the strategic use of “God wants me to share _____ with you.” When the call finally ended, I started crying. I felt drained, bruised and battered, and my heart hurt.

This person uttered no harsh word or overt condemnation of me, but the longer they pounded me with their Scripture-filled sermon, the more I felt tired and unloved and hurt. With every passing minute, they grew more energized. They took my energy and my time and left me a battered mess. I experienced for myself exactly what my best friend described so many years ago—and it was horrifying.

It has not been difficult to forgive this verbal assault, because I now see even more clearly how deeply I need to be forgiven for my own wordy attacks. It’s incredibly painful – and even more humbling – to realize how many people have similar stories to share about their interaction with me. I can’t change anything, including myself, but I can receive the Blood and let Him continue His work in my heart. And I can thank God – really thank Him! – for reaching me in ways that make everything so clear.

Comments:

Posted by Pauline
November 8, 2013 at 7:14 pm

I felt sad reading this, but this is HIS work . . . you really are a blessing, Jennifer! I don’t think I could put all my shortcomings and failures on the ‘front page’ like you do. God has made and is continuing to make you conformed to His image and He is beautiful in you!!

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Posted by Nate
November 7, 2013 at 10:40 am

You have to be aware of a behavior before you can change it- and you CAN change it. I am a struggling chatterbox, too. I can’t remember when I first became aware, but I think it was freshman year of college when I realized that my “friends” were actually making fun of me constantly behind my back and that my talkativeness was a big, running joke.

I have never been to this site before; I saw this post on Facebook and had an urge to encourage you! I don’t worship, but I do consciously strive to be kind to everyone and every thing, each day. For me, that means maintaining awareness of my jabbering. I haven’t been able to stop it but I think I have made things better by trying to remember a few things:

First I try to catch myself. If drawn towards a conversation I know I can’t just be a normal participant in, I will politely stay as far out as possible. I use jokes for everything, including this. “I can’t get going about that, I’ll never stop!” or some such self deprecating remark, if it’s called for.

Or I will (through an act of Iron Willpower!)stand by and “actively listen” as part of a conversation while internally I am telling myself “don’t jump in; even if she’s ‘wrong’ it’s not hurting anything at this point; they didn’t ask me for my entire philosophy; it would be socially insulting to speak up and contradict her- this isn’t a debate forum;” et cetera.

I remind myself over and over that you can basically NEVER change someone’s viewpoint by having a (single, casual)conversation. But you can almost ALWAYS start an argument!

I let the other people in the room decide whether conversational tone is going to turn serious; I don’t do it myself.

When I catch myself going on and on- it’s always too late when I catch myself, people have been thinking it for some time before it occurs to me- I “step into the punch” by immediately interrupting myself with some comment like “wow, I bet that’s way more than you wanted to hear” or “sorry! I’ve been talking your ear off” or “I’m sorry, I just realized how I’ve been dominating this conversation.” Then I DO NOT ‘wrap up’ with a few parting thoughts, I just stop. On rare occasion, someone will actually ask me to continue. I just feel better about myself if I acknowledge my behavior publicly. I like to think it lessens peoples’ irritation and bad feelings, which can stick around for hours and sour a whole day, possibly. I don’t want to sour anyone’s day.

Finally, when I just can’t avoid it and I have to Impart Knowledge on someone, I am careful to say things like “this is just what I have heard; I hang around / work with some experts but I am not one” or “this is only based on what I learned at [the unarmed combat seminar, gunsmithing course]” or “actually, XYZ is true; I am only saying that because I have actually experienced XYZ.” I feel like it’s more honest and it can help me not irritate people by being a know-it-all. (this based on my own personal experience with certain people who would express a theory or a guess as an indisputable fact).

Look what I did- I “talked” a whole lot! Anyway you’re not alone. I know our contexts are different, but your post that a friend shared on Facebook struck a chord.

And as you yourself know, it’s sometimes reeeeeally hard not to chime in 🙂

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Posted by Sam
November 6, 2013 at 9:29 am

I remembered these words from Francesco d’Assisi (Francis of Assisi):

“Share the gospel at all times, and if necessary, USE WORDS!”

All those who walk with the Lord must confront this issue sooner or later. It doesn’t matter AT ALL whether you are the “Jennifer type” or the “quiet type.”

YOU HAVE TO CONFRONT THIS.

And this issue is an issue of works of men VS Works of God.

LOVE!!

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Posted by Irene
November 6, 2013 at 7:35 am

Bill Gothard once said, our weaknesses are are merely our strengths carried to an extreme. (That may be loosely quoted, but that is the gist of what I remember.) Jennifer, the words you write carry His power. Rejoice that He is just in the process of refining one of the strengths He has given you. Eph. 2:10 comes to mind.

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    Posted by pearl
    November 6, 2013 at 8:40 am

    Amen!!

    Reply

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