4 Ways to Rest Your Words in a Loud, Opinionated World

by | Mar 3, 2020 | Lent, Sabbath, Uncategorized

This Sunday marks the beginning of the second week for A Sabbath Journey for Lent. I pray that the sacrificial discipline of resting a different body part each week will be a meaningful and rich experience for you. As we transition from resting our eyes to resting our words, a recent encounter comes quickly to mind. If you can relate, let me know in the comments.

At In and Out, seated across from Aunt Paula and my daughter, Murielle, I sip Diet Coke through a plastic straw, dunk French fries into a paper cup holding ketchup, and wipe grease off my hand, dripping from a single with cheese, no onions. Between bites, Aunt Paula inserts a story. Our generational differences cause random memories to emerge, from our time living together in a tiny one-bedroom apartment in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma. I was near the age of my daughter and she was a young, single, foreign language teacher at the high school where I was a student.

She’s smiling at me and making eye contact with Murielle when she divulges, “As we were getting ready in the morning, your mother looks at me in the mirror as I am applying makeup, and tells me that I don’t have to paint my eyebrows like that anymore. Or wear shoulder pads either.”

We laugh out loud, but internally, I’m cringing.

Nine weeks earlier, Aunt Paula suffered an injury to her foot that immobilized her normally vigorous life of hospitality and serving others. She was using our story as a positive example, explaining how being disabled has been an epiphany for breaking habits and being less obsessive about appearances; less conscious of what other people think.

The tagline of this blog your reading is stories that make people think differently about life and I guess you could say that branding has been part of my DNA since the beginning. Thankfully, Aunt Paula translated my lack of tact as a loving gesture, not as an immature criticism.

Lent is the season of patient perseverance in penitence, of listening more and talking less. Of resting words and saturating thoughts in the Word made flesh.” A Sabbath Journey for Lent

Before those happy years with Aunt Paula, my childhood was shrouded by critical words used as daggers to slay my identity. Maybe you have been wounded by the words of others too?

For me, those hard, early years provided valuable practice in discernment that sobered me into using words as life-giving once I grew up. My family will tell you that I have not yet mastered the art of being positive and affirming at all times, but my life is evidence that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28)

Wholeness is the outcome of relationship with Jesus in healing your brokenness. And healing is possible no matter how deep your wounding.

Sabbath is an invitation to deeper intimacy as you wait on His timing for resurrection.

Why Rest Your Words?

Because I’m an author, you may find this hard to believe, but when it comes to resting my words, it’s been a long obedience in the same direction. I haven’t always been good at hiding what I think or tactful in communicating what I feel. Often slow to wait and quick to speak, in the past, that has translated as words hurting people.

Over time and with practice, learning how to rest my words–especially when I am prone to interject, opinionate, or judge a situation too quickly–has made all the difference. Especially in parenting!

My son, keep my words and store up my commands within you. Keep my commands and you will live; guard my teachings as the apple of your eye. Bind them on your fingers; write them on the tablet of your heart. Say to wisdom, ‘You are my sister,’ and to insight, ‘You are my relative.'”
Proverbs 7: 1-5

Sabbath is weekly practice in discerning the Truth from lies; of hearing the life-giving words of Jesus over the accusing voices in your head.

The more we listen for that still small voice, the more we believe we are loved. The more we know what it means to belong to the family of God, the more we become conduits of blessing for those we love.

Practice the Pause

If you are prone toward giving advice without being asked first, pause and invite Jesus into the conversation before speaking. Is your role to offer solutions, fix problems, or simply listen?

If you prone to provide insight from your past as a remedy for other’s pain, pause and ask Jesus what wisdom looks like for your friend. Wait on him to lead your speech. Or silence. Ask Jesus for wisdom on which hat to wear in the moment: Friend, mentor, coach, or counselor?

If you are prone to fill quietness in the room with chatter, pause and invite Jesus to help you become the non-anxious presence in the room. Ask God why you are uncomfortable with silence.

If you are prone toward formulating what you will say next, pause and listen attentively to people without speech. Ask God how you can glorify Him in the conversation with affirmation, compassion, silence, or empathy.

We use words to paint stories, encourage, discipline, pester, admonish, and proclaim while God pours out speeches from the heavenlies to reveal His deep love for us. May the benediction of Sabbath on this second week of Lent be few words punctuated by silence. Let’s pay more attention to the love letters he is scattering about and less time planning, projecting, and processing.

Something You Might Not Know About Me

One of the deep joys of my life is to listen alongside others through personal development coaching. Coaching is the practice of resting words to listen for where God is already at work in your life for the purpose of breakthrough and discovery.

Perhaps as you practice Sabbath for Lent, things are coming to the surface that have been unnoticed for a long time. You sense there is more healing, more that God wants to do within you, but you can’t quite name what it is yet. We cannot come to clarity on our own, and I am here to help if needed. You can find out more about coaching with me here.

Here’s what I want: Give me a God-listening heart so I can lead your people well, discerning the difference between good and evil. For who on their own is capable of leading your glorious people?” 1 Kings 3:9 MSG

As you sacrificially rest your words for Lent this week, hold these questions in your heart.

How does quieting your voice change the atmosphere of a room? The climate of your heart? The attitude of your body?

What are you discerning as you rest your words?

Find out more about A Sabbath Journey for Lent and how to claim my FREE eBook in this post. Subscribe to the Sabbath Society for weekly letters of encouragement, breath prayers, poems, and resources that help make rest realistic in your world.

Subscribe for Shelly’s stories and free resources here: https://shellymillerwriter.com/free-resources/


  1. Lori Jean

    I told Parker I want to give up talking for Lent. I have not succeeded nor am I certain I am allowed to totally stop talking. Looking forward to more intentionally practicing this. Thank you & I pray you are well, dear you.

    • shelly

      I love that! I guess the point of resting our words is to be more thoughtful and intentional before speaking, yes?! Lots of love to you Lori Jean. xx

  2. Shelly Julien

    I have been struggling with and learning how to overcome over talking, as I call it, for a good part of my life! So this post really resonates with me. I think I have grown in this area but I feel like I have so much more to go. Thank you for sharing your heart Shelly.

    Fondly, another Shelly😜

    • Pamm


  3. Leah

    I just commented on your Instagram post about eyes and I mentioned a conversation with some new fiends. Well two out of three of these friends are not believers and my goodness did they talk a lot! One has gone through a really hard time recently with a traumatic health issue with her husband while raising 4 children. I found myself not talking much at all but listening. There was this little voice in my head poking me to insert good evangelical advice, but you know what? I didn’t say any of them.
    I did spend a lot of time thinking about what she said on my half hour drive home. I have learned that when we simply listen, not talk, it allows the Holy Spirit to give you glimpses into what is really going on deep inside. The part only God sees and only Christ can heal. Then we partner with Christ by earnestly praying and purposefully pursuing a relationship so maybe we can later be a conduit to Christ, who is of course, the only real conduit to the Father; which is what anyone we will ever come in contact with really needs. Not our advise.

    • Mary Ellen

      Really strong advice here Leah. I too have friends whose words pour out like water from a fire hose and I admit to getting very impatient with them. However, I too have committed myself to listen and really hear what their hearts are saying. It makes a huge difference.
      When given the opportunity to speak, I often find I have words with weight to share, because I was listening not only to them but to Holy Spirit. Your words helped me to see the process. Thank you.

  4. Sandy

    Thank you, thank you, thank you
    From a talker

    I have written down the parts after asking Jesus into the conversation.
    I will have lots of practice this week-end as we go to a conference and visit with family and friends

  5. Zelpha

    Love this Shelly you describe so beautifully how a Chaplain does their work listening, taking the pause, inviting God into the conversations. As a Chaplain learning these skills are so valuable and a gift to others and to ourselves when we just need that time of Silence and stillness . Thank you for you words .

  6. Jennifer Frisbie

    Oh, this was timely. I won’t go into all of the details publicly but rest assure that God laid this message on your heart for one of us. *whistles innocently* Me. 🤣

  7. Martha Barnett

    I too say thank you! This is so timely and is the compassionate challenge I need regularly. I am an extrovert and passionate talker who has been hearing God speak this precious word to me in one way or another for years! I believe I am hearing it and letting it take root. Blessings on you.

  8. Nancy Ruegg

    I’m trying to remember: the same letters that spell LISTEN also spell SILENT. Listening is even more valuable than sharing from the vast store of experience accumulated over the decades. Thank you for the TACTFUL (!) reminder, Shelly!

  9. Pamm


  10. Pamm

    Thank you for your timely wisdom, insight and instruction. My constant prayer is 🙏🏽”Jesus, help me to be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger.”🙏🏽
    It seems like the more I attempt to walk this out in my life, the more I fail. Your God inspired words speak directly to my heart and give needed encouragement.
    I will definitely revisit this post, journaling portions of it in order that it may take root in my heart, bringing forth fruits of righteousness.
    God bless you.

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