After my vocal surgery on Monday, May 12th, I spent 4 days in complete vocal silence–no talking, no singing, no clearing my throat, no LOL (laughing out loud). That also meant no “I love yous” to my wife or kids. No “goodnights.” No “good mornings.” I even had a special message on the unlock screen of my phone (picture below) so I could inform people that I wasn’t just being rude when I didn’t speak to them. I did pre-record “I love you,” “goodnight,” “good morning” and a few other handy phrases in the Voice Memo app on my phone. My iPad served as my dry erase board when I needed to communicate. I also got by with charades (often, humorous) and sign language–I know most of the ASL alphabet (also humorous). A text-to-speech app was somewhat useful, but if I was involved in a conversation, usually by the time I had what I wanted to say typed, the subject had changed.
The most interesting time for communication was days 5-7 when I could speak 1 or 2 words at a time occasionally throughout the day. I found myself distilling my thoughts down to 2 words. After 4 days of silence, my first 2 words were saved for Suzanne: “love you.” That night, the whole family was gathered so I could say, “g’night, loveya.” (That’s 2 words, right?) According to Proverbs 17:27, I am pretty smart: “The one who has knowledge uses words with restraint…” Just kidding!
It was actually easier to be totally silent than it was to speak at a level 2 (talkativeness scale from 1 to 7 with an average person being a 4). Suzanne and I went to a pastors and wives retreat during that time and it was difficult to be someone who “uses words with restraint”! I tend to be more of an introvert, but the retreat was held by the discipleship organization 3DM that we have been involved in for the past 2 years. It was difficult to restrain my words in talking with other leaders about my passion–discipleship!
Having to restrain my words did cause me to ponder what our world would be like if words were in limited supply. Ecclesiastes 5:2 says, “Do not be quick with your mouth, do not be hasty in your heart to utter anything before God. God is in heaven and you are on earth, so let your words be few.” What if we only had a limited number of words we could say everyday? I’d like to think that gossip would become much less of an issue. Maybe people would be more trustworthy. One thing is for sure–if words were in limited supply, much more thinking would occur before speaking. And there would probably be much less hurt caused to others by our words. Are you willing to say with Solomon–the wisest man who ever lived–“let my words be few”?
One thought on “let my words be few”
Interesting challenge indeed. When I practiced law I’d sometimes have to sit for hours in a packed courtroom waiting my turn to put some routine matter on the record and watch attorney after attorney spew meaningless words in equally routine matters with pre-determined outcomes that weren’t going to change no matter what they said. After years of frustration with the incredible waste of time and money that it all represented I decided to see how few words I could say to accomplish the task. It became a game. I have no idea if anyone ever noticed but it gave me a new appreciation for the power of brevity and the admonition attributed to Abraham Lincoln that it is better to keep your mouth shut and be thought a fool than to open it an remove all doubt.