Pausing before you speak

by | April 12, 2018 6:28 am

Playl’s Ponderings – By Steve Playl

Don’t you just love when someone goes out of their way to get your attention, and then can’t remember what they wanted to say? It seems like there was one in every one of my classes in the early grades. Sometimes it was me. Remember how a classmate would raise their hand – for what seemed like hours – sometimes waving frantically until the teacher called their name.

”Yes, Stevie. What is it?”

Then he – or I – would look around the room at his, my, peers and try to think of something to say. If the person was not me, the scene was pretty annoying. If it was me, it was extremely embarrassing.

Fast-forward several decades to my grandchildren. When one of my stinking cute grandchildren needs a few seconds to come up with some words, usually, I could grab ‘em up and squeeze ‘em in two so there would be two of ‘em to love on.

Recently 5-year-old Anderson and I had the enormous pleasure of hanging out for a couple of hours. All my grandchildren are precious – in case you need to hear it again – and especially the younger ones have a knack for wrapping us around their pinkies.

Anyway, I was about to pass Anderson off to his Aunt Stacia so I could do some adult thing like work. Buckling him in the car seat and preparing to close the back door, I was stopped in my tracks by an urgent exclamation, “PAPA!”

It wasn’t a cry of pain, as in, “You pinched me with the seat belt.”

Nor was it a warning of impending danger to be followed with, “There’s a car coming!” or “There’s a robber behind you!”

No it was simply, “Papa!” followed by a pause, which stated in total silence: I want to say something, but I just don’t know what it is – yet.

The pause was followed with a precious, dimpled grin and then three magic words, “I love you!”

That’s all he said, “I love you, Papa.”

But that’s all he had to say to melt my heart.

That scenario has been repeated by each of my grandchildren and their predecessor parents – my children – many times through the years. Whether it is by phone or in person and whether it follows some impish behavior or just comes from nowhere, those three words always bring out the “grandparent” in Nahnee and Papa.

Words blurted impulsively are not always appropriate, though. Take Peter as an example. Having seen Jesus transfigured and joined by Moses and Elijah on a high mountain, Peter suggested that he build tabernacles for each of the three. Mark’s Gospel states that he said what he said because he didn’t know what to say. Typical Peter! Always impetuous! Perhaps he, like James and John, should have said nothing at all.

Peter talked when he should have been listening, and God interrupted him from heaven with a booming voice, “You are in the presence of My Son. Listen to Him!”

There is a time to speak and a time to be silent and pay attention to the voice of God. Habakkuk said, “…the Lord is in his holy temple: let all the earth keep silence before him.”

When we speak, we should choose our words carefully. Sometimes a pause is appropriate. Sometimes the words that follow the pause may be a simple, “I love you.” If those words come from the lips of an innocent child, they are precious, especially if it comes from one of my grandchildren.

Surely God never tires of hearing his children say, “I love you.” Sometimes those words should follow a pause.

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