I tend to pop in and write up a draft for this blog whenever I have a spare moment or whenever something moves me.
With work, especially, I find it more difficult to write at scheduled times – so my answer is to write as much as I can when the mood strikes, and then shuffle the pieces around to use when I desire. The result is that my drafts folder here is often stocked with pieces I’ve written with the intent to publish (and it now, in fact, tops out at 544).
But a lot of those go unused. And they will go unused forever.
Why? Some of them are just plain bad writing: things I wrote in a rush or tried to force, then re-read and thought, “Nah. Doesn’t cut it.” But greater by far are the things that, upon another look, I felt strange about posting. Some are complex, tearful ruminations written on late nights when I was struggling with something hard that, in the light of day, are rambling and incoherent, too much feeling and too little sense. Some are screeds, very clearly written in the heat of my anger and irritation: flashpoints of scathing condemnation that are clearly not loving, not gentle, not kind. Some are criticisms that are frankly unnecessary; others exhortations that require a specific moment in time.
I’ve left a lot unsaid. And when I look through that folder, I am glad of it.
The truth is we live in an age that encourages us to spill out all of our thoughts and feelings to anyone who will listen at every opportunity. I thank God that I grew up largely without constant access to the Internet and long before the age of social media; I cringe thinking of what idiotic, thoughtless things I might have typed into the void for all the world to see. Almost everyone I know who is my age feels similarly. Although technology has enabled our communication to progress in ways our forebears might never have imagined, those same new technologies encourage us to always say: to speak and speak and speak.
A lot of the time we interpret “holding one’s tongue” as biting back unkind or mean things, and we certainly ought to do that. But there’s also value, I think, in holding back other things too: the rambling, the trite, the ill-thought-out, the comment we tossed in just to make our presence felt, the thing we say just to sound smart.
I imagine that, when everything is said and done, I will look back and only wish I had said less, rather than more. I suspect I will be grateful for what I did not say: the cruel remark avoided, the vehement screed held back, the unnecessary critique, the unhelpful comment or joke. Why add to the clutter and the noise?
God will give you all the words you need to say in all situations. But in all the times He does, take a moment too for the whole libraries of things He persuaded you to leave unsaid, since sometimes what we don’t say can be the most thoughtful act of all.
Back to a more regular blogging schedule this week! I lagged a bit last week – I’ve been sick, but it’s getting better.