This Christmas Will You Speak Only What is Necessary When Gathered as a Family? Why?

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A person who modeled thinking before speaking what was unnecessary was my mom. My parents divorced when I was one, remarried, then separated again for five years. Even though Mom could’ve thrown Dad under the bus while raising me on her own, I appreciate that she abstained from doing so. She expressed later in her life that it was unnecessary for me to hear such things. Mom was other-focused. Because of her heart of love for me, she sought to serve my needs with her words. She was not careless in her words because she cared. She pulled back from communicating information that I didn’t need to hear, even though she may have felt better after having done it.

As I have reflected on my mom, who is in Heaven now, I do not recall my mom doing any of the following. She had a sense about what was necessary and what wasn’t. She wasn’t perfect but she was mature.

Toward me, she did not…

  • provide way too much information that overwhelmed me and caused me to tune her out

  • explode in anger and spew out hollow threats

  • curse or cuss at me

  • make truthful comments at the wrong time that caught me off guard or cornered me

  • share secrets I shouldn’t know as a boy

  • keep asking questions about things she knew would invade my privacy

  • justify her unfiltered and unbridled words under the category of being well intentioned

  • listen only to speak and thus did not listen when I spoke

  • keep on rehashing something that upset her

  • feel sorry for herself and look to me or anyone to hear her complaints

  • fixate on catching me in mistakes in order to chastise me

  • think she could say anything, anytime because she cared, and caring excused imprudence

  • dislike silence to the extent that she filled the room with her empty chatter to hear herself

  • overstate and exaggerate (except when writing affirming poetry about my sister and me!)

  • interrupt because what she had to say trumped anything I or others were saying

  • grumble about unmet pleasures (though I heard her grumble when feeling misunderstood)

  • evade subjects others needed to know, though she’d evade topics others shouldn’t know

  • take center stage in every conversation, though she readily entertained us

  • keep thinking of one more criticism to pile on

  • refuse to wait on God but cram the sermonette down my throat

I thank God that my mom did not find ways to say something that was unnecessary. She had a good and discerning heart.

How about you toward other family members? Any of the above items prick your conscience?

This Christmas and New Years when gathered among family and friends, would it be a good idea to ready yourself to refrain from saying things that do not need to be said?

Three Scriptures to consider.

Ecclesiastes 3:7 “a time to be silent and a time to speak.”

Ephesians 4:29, “Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear."

Matthew 12:36, 37, “But I tell you that every careless word that people speak, they shall give an accounting for it in the day of judgment. For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.”

-Dr. E