The Power of Silence — and How to Make it Work for You

Do you ever get fired up? The hype around the latest political or ethical faux pas leaves you scrambling to defend a hot-button issue, or to change someone’s mind?

I do. I may seem sweet, but anyone who has ever lived with me knows that when I get mad, I get MAD. After all, Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.

And, when you are fired up, what does silence have to do with anything anyway?

Allow me to set the scene:

I mentioned recently that I started running again, but what I didn’t tell you is that I usually jump start my fitness with some good, old-fashioned Taylor. Swift. When her album 1989 came out, I ran 10 miles for the first time in my life. A few new releases later, and I find myself hitting the trails once again.

My husband? Not a fan. So, if you are shaking your head in bemused disappointment, you can feel well-represented.

Even so, perhaps you followed the controversy over her music video, You Need to Calm Down. I drafted an entire post about it. I spent precious hours vehemently attacking my computer keys.

(For the most part, because I am a Christian and, despite popular generalizations, I want all of my LGBT friends and family to know: I love you so much. What I know of the character of God leads me to believe He feels the same, although we can agree to disagree when it comes to the concept of eternal marriage.)

But that’s not what I want to talk to you about today.

The Rebuke:

As I was writing, a direct, clear picture came to my mind:

Jesus, when He was brought before Herod, “answered him nothing” (Luke 23: 9 KJV).

I felt God ask me to take a deeper look at my words, as well as my audience.

Because, the truth is, the people who staunchly refuse to love their neighbor due to a label — whether that label reads “I am a Christian”, “I am African American”, or “I am gay” — often will not be moved.

Sometimes silence is the better way.

The question is, when is silence a hallmark of empowerment, rather than censorship?

5 Signs That Silence is Powerful, Rather Than Harmful:

#1: You feel in control.

If you are being victimized in any way — bullying, sexual harassment, violence, extortion — you should immediately ask for help. Silence is harmful when perpetrators use it to fuel victimization. If a situation feels out of your control, someone needs to know about it.

On the flip side, you may remove yourself from the driver’s seat, either pre-emptively “washing your hands” of your words, or reacting rather than acting toward a worthy cause. In this case, you may want to weigh your words more carefully.

#2: Something else is more important.

A few worthwhile questions to ask yourself before you speak up might be:

  • Will this matter in the long haul?
  • How will speaking up or staying silent affect those around me?
  • Does what I’m about to say fall in line with my basic principles and values, in word and in deed?

You may not always choose silence after this review, but silence is powerful when practiced with awareness of the bigger picture.

#3: You use it to acknowledge/avoid hypocrisy.

As imperfect, flawed human beings, hypocrisy is almost inevitable, but silence is powerful when you allow your actions to speak on your behalf.

Rather than heatedly calling out hatred, be kind. Live in the light, and others will follow; speak disingenuously, and they will know.

#4: You apply it following discussed expectations.

Don’t be afraid to try your hand at diplomacy first. Otherwise, you may eventually explode, only to discover you had an ally in your neighbor all along. Human beings are, for the better I think, not mind-readers. Silence is powerful when those around you are clearly aware of your expectations and boundaries.

#5: Because God says so.

You may check every other box in favor of speaking out and still feel compelled to hold back.

I saw this the other day on a friend’s Facebook page and found it applicable:

Regardless of your personal logic, silence is powerful when directed by a loving God, who always knows best.

What would Jesus do?

Yet Jesus also cleansed the temple. He shared select teachings with the Pharisees. He left Pilate with His straight-forward declaration: “To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth” (John 18: 37).

So, maybe the key is: make the time to ask Him what He thinks. He will soften your heart where it needs softening, and put words into your mouth to confound the wise, each in their own course.

Here’s to greater awareness in our interactions — in other words: #WWJD.

❤ Jenny


Ideas for Discussion

  • Have you ever been “re-routed” by God?
  • Are there labels that you struggle with? Either in the way you approach others or the way some approach you?
  • How do you balance standing up for your beliefs with sharing the love and light of Christ?

17 thoughts on “The Power of Silence — and How to Make it Work for You

  1. I agree with this post on so many levels. What I do now is ask myself what would Jesus have done? And who is speaking, itbit the Holy Spirit or the ego? And indeed I’ve ended up more silent than I used to be. Thanks for the wonderful piece😍❤️

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I don’t like labels. I spend so much time with people who are from other cultures and even within those cultures, the people vary in personalities, interests etc. I don’t like to put people in a box just so I feel a certain level of comfort.

    For me the struggle is knowing how Christians have come across at times to people who are far from Christ for whatever reason. It is sad when someone’s lack of tact, love etc pushes people further from Jesus instead of attracting them to Jesus.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I completely agree on both accounts. No one individual is the same. And yes! It is difficult for me to see followers of Christ put piety over people, because He never would. But I also have to remind myself that they are human and make human mistakes, too. It’s just sad when those actions lead earnest people away. Thank you for sharing ❤️.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. The older I become, the less I am inclined to put others’ in a “corner” I love decent people of all kinds, we agree to disagree, we won’t always agree but I don’t believe that we always should. So I too have been learning to be more silent that I used to be, but I generally have no issues with any particular ‘peoples’ if you are working on being a decent human as I am, we can/will work together.
    love hearing different perspectives.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Absolutely. This is so well said. Differences are a blessing and a joy. We grow, we agree to disagree, and we work together for a common goal. Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts with me ❤️.

      Like

  4. Excellent post! One of my favorite verses that I try my best to submit to is, ”Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry.” James 1:19. Following God’s Word changes the way we might like to respond.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Oh Jenny, it’s like you read my mind. I have been struggling so much seeing the polarization caused by labels these days.
    Why does my idea of something has to hate yours? My belief in my values, religion, politics shouldn’t have to mean my hate for all yours.
    I believe I lose my right to freedom, the second I try to take away someone else’s.

    I too get MAD seeing this but I totally agree with you on this that silence sometimes is more powerful.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Yes!! It’s such a difficult dynamic to strike within ourselves and with our community, but standing FOR something doesn’t have to mean standing AGAINST everything else. And we are all gifted agency from God to choose; we must allow that to our neighbors. Thank you so much for your input. God bless ❤️.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I was at a community festival-type event last weekend, and as I walked by, I heckled two political booths that I don’t agree with (one for a candidate, one for a cause). After that, I was thinking, and I realized, no, that’s their playbook, I’m just going to be silent and be the bigger person. I passed by two more booths that I wanted to say something to, but I didn’t.

    Liked by 1 person

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