Silence, the white space of daily lives. White space is important in art. It’s vital for the written word. Without white-space, words run together. Paintings lose focus. Music becomes noise. Photographs are not as sharp. We all need white-space. Silence. We long for it. We dread it.

Silence can mean peace and solitude. A time to reflect and re-energize. It’s in the comfort of silence that we find acceptance. Giving our permission to be exposed in that white space as the silent moments tick by. In a conversation, silence can be unnerving. The need to fill every moment with words seems to overwhelm. And yet, it’s often the silence that brings clarity. A time to think and consider.

Silence can be isolating, lonely, even feel hopeless. Words are weapons that we throw around with abandon. Silence is often the conscious decision to withhold any contact, positive or negative, from an intended victim. Withholding compliments, endearments, encouragement, instruction, concerns, questions and even correction can often cause as much injury as careless words. “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me!” A common chant during childhood, one soon realizes that the “sticks and stones” are preferred to the less visible daggers being hurled. Words are invisible and we may never completely recover from an attack. Unfortunately, it’s the refusal to say ANYTHING that many times leaves the deepest scars.

Words are key bringing joy as well as inflicting pain. Too often, we only hear the negative things in life. When positive, uplifting talk is a normal part of your life, you can begin to take it for granted. But, let it disappear, for a moment, a day or forever, and you realize how much those words were needed to survive. You begin to suffocate under the everyday occurrences of life without the encouragement of positive words. And in those moments, filling the white-space is vital. Self-talk takes over every thought and even negative comments are sought. Anything to get rid of the silence that is so consuming. We no longer find comfort in the silence.

So, how do we make silence our ally? How do we harness the moments and embrace them? How do we live within the white spaces?

While we have no control over the words others give to us, we do control the words we give out. Make a conscious effort to be aware of your words as they are bandied about. Cushion the very silence others may fear with kind words. When difficult conversations are necessary, use gentle words to discuss problems. Don’t fall into the trap of using silence to hide issues or exact punishment. Help to blur the sharp edges of the white space. Build boundaries with your times of silence, not barriers. Enhance the relationships around you with thoughtful silences that promote confidence and security. Whenever the opportunity arises to share a loving word, to pay a compliment or to silently smile, TAKE IT!

With some effort, one will begin to recognize that silence is golden. Not as in a gilded cage that entraps, but as a precious commodity to be treasured.

Gentle words are a tree of life; a deceitful tongue crushes the spirit. Proverbs 15:4 NLT