Aug. 21, 2016

Shut up, Roni

My children were not allowed to say shut up in our home. In fact when my oldest child started public school, the teacher made him cry because she used the ugly word, “shut up” during class. (It’s a long story, but isn’t what this blog is about today.)

I love to talk. No one has really ever told me to shut up. It wasn’t a word used in my childhood home either. “Hush,” “be quiet,” or “keep silent” were okay to use. I’m sure some of my teachers wanted to tell me to shut up as a child. I was definitely a “chatty Cathy.” They didn’t because it really isn’t an acceptable response from an adult to a child. With all the really bad words being tossed around these days, shut up must seem trivial to many.

I do believe, however, there are times that anyone anywhere should feel totally okay with telling me to, “shut up.”  Here is when I encourage you to tell me to shut up:

If I am only willing to talk about the problems and never have an idea of a solution apart from requiring everyone else change, tell me to shut up.

If I am unwilling to hold myself accountable for my personal shortcomings, I don’t need to try and make everyone feel small as a way to booster my own self esteem. Arrogance breeds the temptation for somebody to say, “Shut up.”

If I go off on a tangent belittling others without having some redeeming value to end the discussion, feel free to tell me to shut up.

If I preach without a remedy for sin, tell me to shut up. If I don’t know the remedy for sin, I shouldn’t be preaching in the first place.

Here are the times we should never tell anyone to shut up:

If they are saying something that we don’t agree with, it doesn’t give us the right to say, “Shut up.” It is, after all, a free society.

If someone is confronting us for something that is obviously wrong in our life or wrong in the world and they actually have a really great suggestion or solution for improvement, we don’t need to say, “Shut up.” We might want to listen, take notes and say, “Thank you.” (More about “thank you” in a bit.)

If someone is singing and we don’t like the song, unless it has really ugly words or an awful story – never tell anyone (most especially a child) to stop singing.

If someone in authority or an elderly person is talking, we should never, ever suggest that they shut up.

Here are the times I want to tell people to shut up. (God is developing my spiritual maturity and social correctness teaching me that shut up is an ugly word; even for me.)

One-sided conversations negative in nature where the person never accepts any responsibility for change. If we can’t step up and make a difference, we need to sit down and be quiet.

When people try to convince me that what someone said really isn’t what they said and what they really meant to say is very positive, productive and powerful. We can’t fix stupid. But, stupid is also an ugly word.

Accusations or attacks about someone (even someone in a public position) that has no direct proof. Unless we see it with your own eyes, hear it with our own ears, or witness it for ourselves, we are gossiping. TV news isn’t the gospel truth. The gospel points to real Truth. So, let’s quiet down. (Notice I didn’t say, “Shut up.”)

When we speak to everyone as if we are speaking to Christ Himself, the word “shut up” will no longer be needed. When we listen to everyone as Jesus would listen if He were still present in body, there is no need to tell them to shut up. There is a great need to lift them up in prayer.

I’m developing spiritually to remember that listening to someone and loving them regardless of the topic has greater and a much more long lasting effect than arguing with them. 

So, speak up. Just do so in love. When you find yourself in a really heated argument that is unproductive and going nowhere, don't say, “Shut up.” Respond with, “Thank you for sharing.” The words, “thank you,” pave the way to peace. 

Proverbs 15:1, “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.”