Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.
Colossians 4:6 (ESV)
I grew up in an era when the parenting philosophy was children should be seen and not heard. Unlike many idioms in English, the meaning of this proverb is literal—meaning children can be present during a conversation but should not speak, particularly when they are around adults.
It was not until I met Darryl that someone was eager to know my thoughts! In the beginning of our relationship I often felt exasperated with his constant preoccupation with what I was thinking. As our relationship progressed, however, I appreciated that he gave me a voice and I began aggressively accumulating wisdom, so I had something significant to say!
Our sons also benefitted from encouragement to have a voice. I witnessed Darryl’s wise practice as a father when he asked them for advice on various thorny issues—and then followed it when it was appropriate. I credit much of their good choices over the years to this early practice of valuing their opinions. When our family sat down together, each one of us enjoyed participating in lively discussions.
Having a voice refers to engaging in meaningful conversation, making a difference through what one says and even having a say in key decisions. When I look back over the development of my voice, I realize as my life unfolded—I changed. The young naïve girl—uncertain I had anything worth saying—does not exist anymore. A mature woman now stands in her wake—a woman who speaks up and expresses her opinions with confidence.
My quest to be a trusted confidant and advisor also shapes the way I share my voice. In order to provide a safe environment without judgment or criticism, I ask myself, is my band-width for kindness and compassion wide enough to accommodate this situation? Is my speech a tool God can use to help an individual open up—and share their own unique voice? And, of course, with God’s help—it is!
Lord, use my voice to bless others—distinct, clear, kind and gracious—and sprinkled with the perfect amount of salt to be tasty! Amen!