5 Reasons to Lick a Shut-Up-Sicle (and 5 Reasons Not To)
Feb 07, 2016 03:40AM
By Bonnie Lyn Smith
Ecclesiastes 3:1,7, ESV, King Solomon speaking
For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:
a time to tear, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak…
Years ago, a dear friend, trusted mentor, and fellow editor introduced me to a word with which I simply cannot part ways: shut-up-sicle. Once I wrapped my mouth around that powerful little descriptor, I was on my way to any and all usage possible. It fits so many situations, doesn’t it?
“Why don’t you lick a shut-up-sicle already?”
“Oh, man, I might need to pass out the shut-up-sicles today. Everyone is talking at once.”
“Sure wish I had brought my shut-up-sicle with me. I said more than I had planned to.”
Yeah, such a beautiful word. I’ll admit some possible uses can be a bit unkind, so I’m not recommending them. [Smile.] Today, I’m really thinking more in terms of my own need to grab one and lick it at a slow pace. When we have nothing left to say and/or whatever swirls through the filter of thoughts is better left unexpressed, the most challenging approach to a perplexing situation or problem can be to simply
Several times in different scenarios in my life I had reached a point where I did all I could do, and God was not telling me to move forward. He was calling me into a period of shutting my mouth. I know it was Him because He confirmed it with Scripture, sent godly counsel to affirm it, and gently put my mouth to sleep.
What I mean by that last part is that, well, for a word person by trade, I was at the end of my own vocabulary. There were seasons when I had nothing left to say, even though my heart yearned to say more, extend love, or even confront, but He left me speechless.
My words were to rest—at rest, actually.
I was to stop being a control freak and trust.
He would let me know when it was time to talk again—after He had done a healing work in me and in the other parties. When He had set the stage properly for the actors to come back for the next Act, He always let me know.
What about you? Need to grab one of those shut-up-sicles right now?
Shut-up-sicles are often passed around in the name of obedience and self control.
King Solomon had some interesting ways of describing this concept. I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t mind being the fool in this situation.
Proverbs 17:27-28, King Solomon speaking
Whoever restrains his words has knowledge, and he who has a cool spirit is a man of understanding.
Even a fool who keeps silent is considered wise; when he closes his lips, he is deemed intelligent.
Ever screw up royally simply because you spent too many words?
Proverbs 10:19, King Solomon speaking
When words are many, transgression is not lacking, but whoever restrains his lips is prudent.
I like the word “prudent.” I’m tossing that around in my mouth right about now, forming it with the extra space left over from the shut-up-sicle.
I love what Moses said to his people as they waited on deliverance from their oppressors, the Egyptians. “The LORD will fight for you, and you have only to be silent.”
Exodus 14:13-14, Moses narrating
And Moses said to the people, "Fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the LORD, which he will work for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall never see again.
The LORD will fight for you, and you have only to be silent.”
“Be silent” sounds so easy, doesn’t it, and yet, I think we all struggle to hold our words in and trust God. We often have “just one more thing” to say, don’t we?
What happens when we are silent when we are supposed to be? We will “see the salvation of the LORD," and "the LORD will fight for you.”
What is the first word Moses said when addressing Israelite anxiety? “Fear not.” See the correlation? Don’t talk out of fear. That’s often not going to go well.
Now, let me pause and explain what this particular brand of shut-up-sicle is not.
It is not:
- To lord a power trip over someone
- To shame
- To slam down the silent treatment as a punishment
- To sulk
- To passive-aggressively send a message of hurt
- To make room for God to do His amazing works for our good
- To allow healing needed through a passage of time
- To prevent losing self control and speaking words in haste and from a place of anger or pain
- To acknowledge God is sovereign and the only One Who can put messy, conflicted hearts back into alignment
- To offer space to pray for each other
After learning the hard way more ways than I care to count, I have tried the Shut-Up-Sicle Method over the years in a few different relationships. While in some cases I waited years for communication to resume, when some (not all) of these people came back into relationship with me, the silent period always bore fruit, and God’s signature was on it. In fact, He increased the depth of the relationships and enabled us to walk each other through difficult times.
Because His timing is perfect. We just need to trust it.
Are there some folks out there who never want to re-engage? Yes. There will always be people who want us to keep licking the shut-up-sicle into eternity. They don’t want repair, or they aren’t ready. Maybe that season with them in our lives is simply over.
The important thing is when you “go silent,” to convey love, care, and kindness. Be honest about your quiet without being needlessly confrontational. If they share your faith in Christ, remind them that is what unifies.
Because it does.
When God gave me back my words in those situations, we were all ready for it. Reconciliation happened. Love deepened and blossomed. I now count two of those relationships close friends.
Is there a place in your life where you need a shut-up-sicle? Have you asked God if you are to speak or to be still?
He is so faithful to answer us. He is the Good Shepherd who wants His sheep to eat of the greenest pasture. At times, we need to feed and rest, waiting for Him to take us to where the field is lush and restored again. If we rush ahead, we have nothing to feed on.
“Going silent” should not be intentionally hurtful. If we do our best to communicate love and care, we cannot control if it is interpreted that way, but we should never aim silence as a weapon.
Shut-up-sicles should be passed out only for healing, space, hope, restoration, and above all:
Leaving room for Christ to continue writing a redemptive story in our lives—messy relationships and all.
Author Bonnie Lyn Smith writes about parenting, marriage, mental health advocacy, special education, faith in the valleys of life, the healing cloak of Jesus, drawing healthy boundaries, relational healing, renewing our minds, walking with a Holy God, and much ado about grace. Join the conversation at Espressos of Faith.
Her book, Not Just on Sundays: Seeking God’s Purpose in Each New Day, offers anecdotes on all of these subjects and Scripture for each situation as well as Book Discussion Questions for deeper exploration.