If you were to think back over your last twenty-four hours, who have you talked to? And what did you talk about? In the last twenty-four hours of my life, I’ve probably had four or five dozen individual conversations with various people. Of course, I live with some of those people. I’m related to some of those people. They’re what we call ‘family members,’ and hopefully the lines of communication are pretty open and those conversations pretty frequent.
I’ve also had several what I would call ‘casual’ conversations. The guy at the grocery store who comes to my church, and saw me walking down the bread aisle, and stopped me to talk something I can’t remember. I chatted with a guy while I was pumping gas in my car, too. And the kid that served me coffee atthe drive-through. I’ve had several, non-descript interactions with people who have crossed my path recently.
I’ve had an almost constant dialogue with God, too. He’s always available, and since he invited me to ‘cast all my cares upon Him,’ I do that with regularity. I talk to God hundreds of times a day.
But one of the most troubling people I talk to every day — yes, a thousand times a day — is me. I have no way of knowing how many times a day I talk to myself, about a variety of things. But I know it’s a lot. I certainly talk to me more than I talk to anyone else, including God, I’m afraid. I’ve caught myself asking me what I want to have for lunch. I’ve noticed myself telling me what I think, too. I say stuff like, “I think I’ll take myself a nap,” or “That pie sure looks good. I think I’ll have a piece.” I don’t think there’s even a way to measure how many times a day I tell myself something I already know.
But I’ve been working on paying attention to what I say to myself, because I think ‘self-talk’ can be powerful. I don’t mean mumbling to myself, or pumping myself up kind of talk. I mean examining my conversations with me … for opinions. When I see someone else, what do I say to me … about them? What kind of permission do I give myself for wandering down the path of judgments I have formed, estimations I have made about their motives, or values, or eternal worth? If I could somehow print out a transcript of the conversations internally that I’ve had with me about others? What would those transcripts reveal about my heart, my mind, my thinking? I’m trying to get better at listening to the conversations I have with me, especially conversations about other people.
I’m afraid I’m really good at saying stuff to myself I wouldn’t want anyone else to hear . (That’s why I say it to myself, I guess.) I’m working on carefully evaluating the appropriateness of my daily conversations, because … God is always listening,no matter who I’m talking to or about.
Prov. 29:20 puts it this way: “There is more hope for a fool than for someone who speaks … without thinking.”