A Vow of Silence, So to Speak

1832 1832_ () 1832 1832 In light of recent Lenten discussions, longtime reader Sue sent me a note detailing a Lenten sacrifice she made one year that is worth sharing with you.

She was struggling with a situation in her life and decided, in light of her “bad and very critical attitude” (as she described it), that she would give up talking about the problem entirely.

The results were astonishing — there was an absolute and undeniable resolution to this very difficult situation.

I have been inspired by Sue’s letter to me; it’s given me a lot of food for thought. Not talking about a situation, especially one that is particularly stressful and difficult, could be quite a challenge for me. I would even call it a fast of epic proportions.

I’m not sure I have anything quite as difficult in my life as Sue shared with me, but how many other ways could I apply such a fast. This goes beyond choosing not to gossip or choosing to think the best — to me it’s a kind of freedom that we could all enjoy. It’s like avoiding the near occasion of sin with negative thought and speech habits. If I could minimize thinking about or discussing or fixating on Situation X, I wonder how many days until I was out of the habit of those thought patterns entirely.

Thanks, Sue, for sharing.

How about you, dear reader? Do you have your Lenten plans figured out? 1832″



  1. oooooh. I love this!! I may have to just add this to my links of things I want to work on. I just posted our Lenten goals as well.

    This is VERY thought provoking…thanks!!! I'm loving all these sharings for Lent – it is getting me excited for Lent. I haven't always been this way, till last year!

    Many blessings!!

  2. ok – totally had to link to you. So deep. Thanks for the soul searching!

  3. This post was such a confirmation for me. I was thinking about doing a fast just like this – a total stop to talking and complaining about a difficult situation in my life. I was feeling like I should do it, but really didn't want to because I knew it would be so hard. Now I know I need to do it!

  4. kerisullivan says:

    Well- I thought I had my Lenten plans figured out. Thanks to my cyber mentor here, I may need to take a slightly different road. I have a family member who (well, I'd go into it but that defeats the purpose of what you wrote!) So, as I have felt the not so gentle poke by the Lord to stop talking negatively about her, I will take your blog as yet another sign He is hitting me over the head with. It's going to be a loooong Lent. Thanks Rachel- even if I may regret having read this one today 🙂

  5. ComfyMom~Stacey says:

    The self improvement route is one of my favorites for Lent. Stopping a negative behavior. This year I am going to stop immediately saying no or asking "why?" in an impatient voice when my kids ask me for something while I am doing something else. My goal is to pause and form a loving response based on a longer time span rather than snapping based on that exact second.

  6. kateschmate says:

    My husband and I are only turning on the TV four days a week, instead of it being our go-to background noise. On the nights we don't turn it on, we'll do house projects, play games, and read. I'm very excited about it, and hopefully, it'll be something we stick to well after Easter!

  7. I love this idea of making a conscious effort to stop negative thinking as well. I may have to add that to my Lenten goals. As a stay at home mom it's easy for me to slip into thinking negatively about my husband when I'm frustrated or overwhelmed. And usually, my frustrations have nothing to do with him. So, being purposeful in my thoughts and choosing a more positive attitude would benefit us both!

    In addition, I've decided to give up Facebook for Lent. Yikes! I count on it as a way to connect with the outside world, but I've really become obsessive about checking it. And, it has become a time-waster.

  8. midwestmom3 says:

    A few years ago, I made a Lenten promise to do much the same thing. I stopped talking about a difficult situation in my life, for the Lenten season. It had such a wonderful consequence that I tried it again the next year. I can't explain how clear the answer came to be. I am sure glad that I listened to God and stopped talking!

  9. Sounds like a cliche, but spending some more time in silent prayer (which in turn means giving up time doing other things like being connected to the www) will be my main goal. Silence is a precious commodity, specially this day and age, and one that we can benefit greatly from. I like the idea of offering what ever we are doing, or the sacrifice I am giving up, for a special cause. So this Year for Priest I am offering my Lenten sacrifice for our priests. I encourage others to do the same. We need holy priests.

  10. oh wow…I know the Lord sent me here…I am up for the challenge to stop this negative lip service I am guilty of ….Thank You!

  11. I am giving up TV during the week and only allowing myself to watch "The Word Network" on weekends.
    No chocolate or candy
    No worrying about the future- what will be, will be!

  12. thank you. i have tears. i so needed this. bless you for sharing your heart.

  13. Rachel – I needed this also. It is amazing how someone or something can take you down and those around you. I work with someone who pushes every single button I have and I end up bringing this frustration home to my husband and kids because I carry it with me. I am going to do my best this lenten season to let it go – give it to our Lord. I started today with a decade of the rosary in the parking lot before I entered the building and a Hail Mary when this person starts to push. I listen, give a thoughtful answer, walk away and pray.

    Thank you! Happy Lent!

  14. Rachel, your interesting and insightful blogs are a real inspiration to me. I notice that all your responders seem to be women. I hope you don't mind a male contribution. Some years ago I coined a saying that has been very helpful to me: "It's better to be happy than to be sad."

    Here's how it works. When I am inclined to negative thoughts or to a negative expression to someone, I ask myself, will thinking (or saying) this contribute to happiness or sadness? If to sadness, I stifle it or, even better, substitute something positive.

    Here's a practical example. One night I became irritated with my wife…I don't remember what it was about. When we went to bed I was harboring bad thoughts about her. These thoughts caused turmoil and sleeplessness. Then (finally) I remembered my saying and thought to myself, I have a choice. I can continue to dwell on these negative thoughts and be unhappy, or I can replace the negative thoughts with positive ones. So I decided to think of all the reasons I wanted to marry my wife in the first place, and there are many. Soon the turmoil and sleeplessness was replaced with gratitude for the wonderful companion with whom I am blessed, and I drifted happily off to sleep.

    I can decide to think negative thoughts or to think positive thoughts. There are plenty of each to choose from. So it is in my power…do I want to be happy or to be sad?

  15. stop writing I dare you

  16. Rachel, I have to say I totally forgot to even think of what I was going to give up till I read your post today. I am going to give up complaining about a family situation that I have been going on about for quite a while. I believe I was sent to your blog to remind me of how much useless energy I have been expending on this that could be better spent in many loving ways. Thanks for writing– btw, I also have five (totally wonderful) sons 🙂

  17. Lent for me is LENT, not Ordinary Time in the Church. Lent is the time we are supposed to align ourselves more closely with the suffering of Jesus' Passion. I was taught by the nuns at an early age that one does ordinary things in Ordinary Time or on their own time. They also taught us that we needed to do something for Lent so that we would find ourselves more closely aligned with Jesus' suffering and that it should be uncomfortable since Jesus most certainly was not comfortable during His Passion. For me it's giving up all meat and one of my two daily meals for Lent. It's uncomfortable, but like our parish priest said, "It's supposed to be uncomfortable, that's what suffering is."