For the past few years, I have selected a word for the new year instead of making countless resolutions that are impossible to keep. This year my word is short, sweet, and oh-so-necessary for an impulsive, extroverted sanguine like myself:
In 2017, I want to think before I respond. Think before I act. Think before I eat foods that hurt my health. Think before I drink too much. Think, in the silence of my heart. To process, to understand, to mull over. To reason. To examine. To ponder.
In the early years of our marriage, one of the things that drove me crazy about my husband was that in the course of a conversation, he would pause – a pregnant, drawn-out, i n t e r m i n a b l e pause. It drove me nuts, especially during arguments. I began to feel like I had to monologue just because it took him forever to answer. I didn’t have time for any of that nonsense. There was always more to discuss, to analyze, and to hash out. I didn’t understand why he wouldn’t engage in a more timely fashion. A friend of ours, upon meeting my husband, actually joked with his wife, “He’s like a stoner. You say something to him, and he just stares, like you don’t even know if he heard you. You just about decide to move on in the conversation, or change the subject, and he finally says something back.”
Seriously. Drove me batty.
Years later, I’ve come to realize that my husband does exceptionally well what I can only dream of achieving: he listens to listen, not to respond. He only says something when he has something worthwhile to contribute. He doesn’t talk unnecessarily. He isn’t in love with the sound of his own voice. He thinks before he speaks.
This idea was reiterated over the course of this Christmas season, as I read Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI’s “The Infancy Narratives: Jesus of Nazareth.” When I read it, I’d already discerned think as my word of the year, but this passage was a bit of divine affirmation for me:
“[Mary] does not remain locked in her initial troubled state at the proximity of God in his angel, but she seeks to understand…she stands before us as a woman of great interiority, who holds heart and mind in harmony and seeks to understand the context, the overall significance of God’s message. In this way, she becomes an image of the Church as she considers the word of God, to understand it in its entirety and guards in her memory things that have been given to her.”
Well, then. Think indeed.
Hand in hand with this word selection is a meditation that has been on my heart the past few months, especially each time I have received the Lord in the Eucharist. My tongue is such a vile organ at times – bitterness, gossip, deceit, and profanities roll out of my mouth far too frequently. In those few moments after Communion, though, when my tongue is throne to the King of the Universe, I have begun to beg Him to sanctify it. I ask every ounce of His Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity to seep into every pore and heal the ugliness of my tongue. I ask Him to allow only words that are good, true, and beautiful to flow from it.
It’s a noble prayer, but a difficult work in progress. My hope is that this year, as I focus on thinking, I will pause and reflect before I open my mouth to eat, drink, or speak.
Will you pray for me?
Got a word for 2017? Link-up below and be sure to share the link up on your fave social media platform!