I am not what you would call an artsy person, although I have dabbled a little bit in the many worlds of art. I say dabbled but more correctly, it should be dribbled, as the floor in my office could testify, if somebody could coax it to speak.
But, not boasting at all, I must say there a few things I have learned to do passably, at least. Not that I am the best in any of them but it is something I do to the best of my ability.
I think first, I have achieved some proficiency in the art of writing. Occasionally the Gracious Mistress of the Parsonage will look at me and say, "Are you scribbling something again?"
Well, some call it scribbling, I call it writing. But, to be honest, I do my fair share of "scribbling," if I do not do anything else. Through the years, I have learned how to put a few words together to make a sentence and then put a couple sentences together to make a paragraph and then a few paragraphs together to make an article. It was not long before I knew how to take a couple articles put them together and make an entire book. It is not surprising to me that some publisher would publish my book but rather it is surprising that someone would not only read it but also buy it.
And the beautiful thing about the art of writing today is that you do not have to know how to spell very well. That is why we have computers.
Not only writing but also I have dabbled a little bit in painting. I just love to be creative. None of my paintings ever begins as an abstract but when finished that is the only word to describe them. Actually, it is the only word that can be used in polite society.
I well remember my first painting. After I was through with it, I proudly showed it to my wife who in turn said, "What happened? Did you spill paint? I hope you didn't get it on the floor."
The funny thing about my paintings is when people look at it no two people see the same thing. My landscapes look to some people like portraits and my portraits look like landscapes. Perhaps that is the value of art; people see what they really want to see in it. Maybe I'm a better artist than I know.
I am not an accomplished artist but I work at it. I have not mastered the art of painting, but I am a diligent student.
These are just two areas where I am working at developing some kind of artmanship, if there is such a thing. But one area of my life I am most diligent in developing into an art form. My wife has encouraged me along this line.
It is simply this; I want to develop in my personal day-to-day life the exquisite art of shutting up. I have been working on this for many years; at least as long as I have been married, and I do not think that I am any further ahead today.
The years I have lived have taught me that the majority of the time when I am getting into trouble is when I am speaking. Usually, as I am told, I am speaking out of turn. My question is, when is it really my turn to speak?
I have noticed several areas in which I need to develop the art of shutting up.
The first is when my wife purchases a new dress. Without fail, she will try it on and then ask me this question, "Does this dress make me look fat?"
As a novice husband, I thought this was an invitation for me to give my opinion on how that dress made her look. Little did I know that it was an opportunity for me to practice the art of shutting up. Really, what she wanted me to do was vigorously nod my head and smile from ear to ear. I have come to learn that even though my wife speaking aloud it is not an invitation for me to join into some kind of a dialogue.
Usually around her birthday, she will make a comment such as, "I really don't feel a year older."
This is a very dangerous area for a husband to wander. I remember one year without thinking, I said, "You look terrific for someone your age." It was a casual remark from my point of view but certainly not from hers. She glared at me and said, "What do you mean for someone my age?"
Therefore, I have come to learn that when it comes to her birthday I need to practice the exquisite art of shutting up. It does not matter what I say, what I mean by what I say, or how I say it. If it tumbles out of my mouth is going to be wrong somehow.
There is a time to stand up and speak up but then there is also a time to shut up. A wise man knows the difference. It was King Solomon who wrote, "Even a fool, when he holdeth his peace, is counted wise: and he that shutteth his lips is esteemed a man of understanding" (Proverbs 17:28 KJV).
I am discovering that the less I say, the wiser I sound.
Copyright, Rev. James L. Snyder
Used With Permission
For reprint permission, contact the author through his site at:
Dr. James L. Snyder is pastor of the Family of God Fellowship, 1471 Pine Road, Ocala, FL 34472. He lives with his wife in Silver Springs Shores.