You Say it Best…By Saying Nothing

A Woman at Prayer

A Woman at Prayer

This month, though it is a month of gratitude, I have struggled with the vice of envy.  This is something I struggle with daily, actually.  But I was really trying to focus on gratitude this month, especially reading all of the “30 Days of Gratitude” posts on Facebook.  Uh…yea, I didn’t do it that way.

Sometimes, when you practice virtue, you find many opportunities to practice it in any given situation.  I have found myself challenged and sometimes reverting to different vices in my failure to fully develop the virtue of gratitude. The green head of envy has appeared in ways I never imagined.  In my jealousy, especially in my marital relationship, I feel entitled to spew my opinion and challenge to my spouse, when I really do need to stop and think before reacting.

I was challenged this week by a very holy man to try a new tactic:  Say nothing.  Wait on the Lord.  Let the Lord control the outcomes.  Let the Lord work on the other’s heart.  Say nothing.

Anyone who knows me understands that this is quite difficult for me.  As a higher education administrator with a fancy title, I am not accustomed to sitting back and saying nothing!  And, I bring that same strategy home.  I know what you are thinking…Mary…don’t do it.  Don’t do it!

Too late…But I’m trying!

I was thinking of this advice of saying nothing.  I thought of the work place.  There are many times where this advice really could have saved me time, effort, energy, and reputation.  In a world where the winner is sometimes the one with the last word, the work world is the stink tank of this type of behavior.

But what if we listened more in the work place?  What if we especially listened for the whispering nudge of the Lord?  What if we wait on the Lord?  What if we let Jesus fight the battle?

What if we took the following Holy Scripture to heart:

“Show me, O Lord, your way, and lead me on a level path, because of my adversaries.  Give me not up to the wishes of my foes; for false witnesses have risen up against me, and such as breathe out violence.  I believe that I shall see the bounty of the Lord in the land of the living.  Wait for the Lord with courage; be stouthearted, and wait for the Lord.”  (Psalm 27: 11-14)

This verse speaks of courage and bravery – yet calls for patience and waiting on the Lord.  Some would call that weak…but I trust the Lord, and know His Word is true and abiding, and I know this is a courageous and fruitful thing to do…wait on the Lord.

What would this look like in the work world?  I offer three scenarios that are popular in my line of work:

  1. Instead of debating colleagues, what if you held your side of the argument, until you hear all of the options?  What if you decided to give the other options a try?  What if you gave your all to the success of the “other’s idea?”
  2. When you feel injured by another at work, what if you first seek to understand, rather than to be understood?  What if you look deeply into the situation, and ask the tough questions of your colleagues/peers/supervisor, but really listen for understanding as they answer?
  3. What if when you are having a bad day, you keep it to yourself?  What if you focus on what you have at work, rather than what you don’t have?  What if you thank God throughout the day for your work, no matter how bad the day is for you?

People are constantly posting on social media their thoughts and feelings about a variety of things.  I saw a posting today in which an adult carried on an adolescent conversation about her child’s bus driver.  What if you said nothing on Facebook?  What if you acted appropriately by reporting problems, perhaps seeking to understand first, and then leave the rest to God?

Some may say, “Well, that’s great Mary, but I take action!”  I’m suggesting action in the least intrusive way possible, saying little, saying nothing, saying only that which would solve and bring peace, and then wait on the Lord for outcome, giving Him thanks in all things.

Maybe there would be much fewer inappropriate Facebook posts by adults who speak first, then think later.

Maybe the work place would be more peaceful, and virtues such as gratitude and wisdom would flourish.

Pope Francis, on the Solemnity of All Saints Day, reminds us that the saints in the history of the Church waited on the Lord, and their examples are ones to be emulated:

“What do the Saints tell us today? They tell us to trust the Lord because He does not disappoint! The Lord is our friend; He never disappoints! With their witness, they encourage us not to be afraid of going against the tide or of being misunderstood and ridiculed when we speak about Him and the Gospel.”

I am challenging myself to say less, especially when I see the vices bubbling to the surface.  I want to develop virtue, and I’m trying to say less, in order to hear more – especially from Our Lord.

Peace of Christ to you and yours!


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About the Author

Mary Wallace, PhD, is a devout Catholic wife of 20 years, mother of 4 daughters, and college administrator for 19 years. Mary obtained her doctorate in Human Resource Education and Workforce Development, and has a particular research interest in faith and work issues. Her dissertation contains research insight from women working in the public sector who bring their faith to work, and using it to inform their leadership. It is through this research that Mary was able to start the blog, The Working Catholic Mom (www.theworkingcatholicmom.com).

Mary is also the co-host of a Catholic radio show: Faith and Good Counsel, on Baton Rouge Catholic Community Radio. The radio show is focused on women living full lives of faith.

As a college administrator for over 19 years, Mary has worked with a wide range of young adults. Spending the first 14 years in the college housing industry, she has a knowledge and experience of working with complex environment, large staffs, and multi-million dollar budgets. Using this knowledge, she has led numerous staffs through strategic planning processes, performance management, training and development, and developing human capital. Her current role focuses on student leadership development, service/volunteerism, and general involvement on a college campus. Mary approaches her leadership with faith as a foundation, though her employment has been mainly with public institutions of higher education.

In 2002, Mary became the main wage earner in her family, when her husband, Steven, became disabled as a result of a traumatic brain injury after a ruptured colon left him sceptic and in the hospital for an entire summer, followed by a year of neuro-rehabilitation. The Wallace’s focused on their faith, and discerned each step of a new journey, full of Christian suffering and joy. During this time, Mary was thankful for her education, and God-given skills and talents to work, and to earn an income to support her family. This is also a time Mary learned to bring her faith to work, in a way that integrated her faith and leadership approach.

Mary’s work brings her great joy, but the greatest joy she has is through her faith and her family. She is a devoted wife, and mother of 4 daughters. It is this role that Mary feels her best leadership shines. She spends lots of time in service with her church, and volunteering for different youth events with her children. Mary is an avid reader and writer, and focuses her reading attention on women’s interest in the Catholic Church, with particular interest in Blessed John Paul II writings and philosophies about women. Mary also enjoys dancing with her girls in her living room (when no one is looking), and cooking simple satisfying meals for the entire family and all of their friends.

Mary is available to speak to your group. Check out ICL's speaker pages for her topics and to book Mary.

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