TO EVERYTHING THERE IS A SEASON and a time to every purpose under heaven…
Ever since the pastor read Ecclesiastes 3: 1 – 13 as a scripture reading last week at my church, I’ve pondered the words in verse 7: …a time to be silent and a time to speak.
How do you know? How do you know when to remain silent or when to speak?
I understand a time to weep and a time to laugh and a time to mourn and a time to dance. Those are easy. But how do you decide whether to open your mouth or zip your lips?
Taking that a bit further, how do you decide when to act or when to allow things to unfold as they may?
I believe that we are sometimes called to act and/or to speak. But how do we determine when we should talk or take action? President Obama, for example, recently stated in the aftermath of the deadly shootings in Oregon that “our thoughts and prayers are not enough.” I believe firmly in the power of prayer and I pray daily. Yet, I agree with the President. (I’m not taking a stand on gun control here, just the need to “do something.”)
As parents, especially, we struggle with how much we should say, if anything. It is easy when the kids are little. We are, mostly, able to curb negative behavior, keep our children from danger, and guide them by our examples, discipline, love and care.
Then our children grow into adulthood and they are in charge of their lives. We have given them, as my friend Kathleen says, “roots and wings, roots and wings.” How, then, do you determine when to speak or to remain silent? If your adult son or daughter was trapped inside a burning building, you wouldn’t just stand there and do nothing simply because they are adults, would you? I’m oversimplifying. But you get my point.
Have you witnessed a situation involving strangers that requires an instant decision? Speak up or remain a silent bystander. Recently, while attending a community event, I watched an angry young mother rage at her daughter. Yanking and yelling. I felt my blood pressure rise as the preschooler cowered in her mother’s presence and slunk into a corner behind a door. If the mother would have pushed an inch further, I would have intervened. I decided not to inflame the situation and was eventually able to comfort the young girl with soft words of kindness. Later I witnessed the mom once again yelling at her passel of children. And I wondered if she treats her children like this in public, how does she treat them at home? And why was she seemingly so overwhelmed? What was she dealing with in her life?
I don’t mean to judge. But you see the dilemma. Determining whether to speak or to remain silent is not always black-and-white clear.
© Copyright 2015 Audrey Kletscher Helbling