Wisdom in Silence

This past week someone asked me to consider the main quality of a good boss and those of a good employee.  It was easy to immediately respond the first question.  In my opinion, to be in a position of leadership one needs to communicate well.  Good communication enables things to run a lot smoother in the work environment.  No doubt, I believe it should be a two-way street, but the words of an employee should be minimum.  Quite frankly, I have learned that the more I silent the better.  The Bible says in Proverbs 10:19 When words are many, transgression is not lacking, but whoever restrains his lips is prudent.

Thinking of someone who inspires me about not talking unnecessarily and being an excellent employee the first person who comes to mind is my baby sister.  I know I may sound cocky when mentioning my siblings but I am really blessed for having such wonderful people in my family.  What can I say?  Good roots bring forth good fruits.  I praise God for my parents!  My dad was naturally a quiet man.  He was a man of just a few words.  My mom, on the other hand, liked to talk quite a lot.  But that doesn’t mean she didn’t teach me about the matter.  And on her last conscious days on this earth she taught me the greatest lesson on the subject. She could talk but she chose not to and her silence spoke more than I can describe.  “A prudent man conceals knowledge, but the heart of fools proclaims folly” (Proverbs 12:23).

Beatriz Valadão is my younger sister.  She is a wife, a mom, and a first time granny.  Through the years I have learned a lot from her.  She stirs in me the desire to be a better person in so many ways.  Today I want to say a few things I learned from her as an employee.  I had the privilege of working with her at the Dallas Post Office.  We were RCA (Rural Carrier Associate), or substitutes to the regular carriers.  When I joined the post office Beatriz was already there.  They call her Bee, but my siblings and I call her Bê since we were little.  I am so thankful for all she did and still does for me.  At the post office, she blessed me with so many tips and helping hands on those desperate first days on the job.  I observed her every time I had a chance and I always ran to her asking for instructions and guidance.  She’s smart in figuring out the best way of doing things in an effective and timely manner.  Bee seemed so confident and always encouraged me even on my lowest moments.

As a substitute, Bee was envied by all regular carriers.  They knew whatever route she worked on it would be an easy one the next day.  She’s not only a hard worker but also a servant of the Lord who blesses all those around her.  She is a helper, a giver, and an example.  Proverbs 31:20 describes her constant attitude “She opens her arms to the poor and extends her hands to the needy.”  Walking the extra mile is something she does continuously.  It’s a part of who she is.  Recently, Bee was promoted to regular carrier.  No doubt, one of the best regulars the post office will ever have.  She’s diligent, reliable, and a pleasant person to work with.   I’m still learning from her and trying to achieve her work ethics.  But the biggest lesson for me has been to guard my lips.

The way she reacts to bad comments about fellow workers is an example to be imitated.  She is silent.  She changes the subject and breaks a chain that can destroy others.  Everyday Beatriz puts to practice what is written in Proverbs 15:1, A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger”, and in Ecclesiastes 4:29, “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear”.  When she opens her mouth it sure serves the purpose of causing good to others.

Several verses in the Bible teach about how much we should restrain our words.  One text in particular, James 3:2-6, gives three good analogies, For we all stumble in many ways. And if anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle his whole body. If we put bits into the mouths of horses so that they obey us, we guide their whole bodies as well. Look at the ships also: though they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are guided by a very small rudder wherever the will of the pilot directs. So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great things. How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire! And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell”.  No wonder God created us with a pair of eyes and a pair of ears, but only one tongue.

I’m progressing in this area of my life.  I don’t want to be considered a fool because of my words.  Ecclesiastes 10:14 says, “A fool multiplies words”, and Proverbs 18:2 says, “A fool takes no pleasure in understanding, but only in expressing his opinion”.  I want wisdom coming out of my mouth and my sister Beatriz has set biblical standards I can follow.

“Whoever keeps his mouth and his tongue keeps himself out of trouble” (Proverbs 21:23).

“Whoever guards his mouth preserves his life; he who opens wide his lips comes to ruin” (Proverbs 13:3).

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Pearls

I love pearls! To me they represent femininity.  Pearl earrings are my favorites.  I wear them very often.  I think they can transform the appearance of a woman quite a bit.  On bad hair days, when a baseball cap seems to be the solution, those pearls work like a charm. They give me a more soft or ladylike appearance. But pearls are not soft or fragile at all, they are consequence of adversity.

A pearl is formed when an irritant, like a parasite, enters the shell of the mollusk.  Unable to expel the irritant the mollusk defends itself by depositing layers after layers of nacre around it.  There are natural pearls and cultured pearls. Natural pearls have a very thick layer of nacre and take years to be formed after a parasite enters the shell.  On the other hand, some pearls have the interference of man to speed up its formation.  A bead or mantle tissue is inserted into the mollusk shell; the mollusk will react the same way by depositing the nacre substance around the intruder to form what we know as a cultured pearl.  Although they differ on their interior the process is the same.  The mollusk refuses to give in to the irritant and protects itself by transforming something ugly and undesirable into something beautiful.

I have encountered a number of “pearls” through the years.  They are women who had suffered many things in life but had overcome in a great way.  They had faced hardships imposed on them by co-workers, by family members, by society, or simply by uncontrollable circumstances.  But these women didn’t succumb to the pressures; they rose above the ugliness of the situation and came out stronger than before.  These pearls are worriers, winners, women of faith and courage, women who are leaving a legacy for others to follow.  They are role models!

Today I want to honor one of these pearls, my eldest sister.  Growing up we were not so close, maybe because she matured faster than I did even though we are not so far apart in age.  I remember her taking care of my younger siblings and me.  At the time, as a child, I didn’t enjoy the aspect of her bossing me around to help her with chores around the house, which my mom made sure we kept sparkling all the time. I also didn’t enjoy when she wanted to make sure my hair was shiny and soft by applying milk with lime juice to remove chlorine after a day at the pool. Less yet I enjoyed when she wanted my nails done; she made me her “guinea pig”.  But I certainly enjoyed all the good food she prepared from an early age.  She would make delicious dishes for us to savor as we watched movies in “Sessão da Tarde,” an afternoon TV show as I was growing up.  Good memories from the past!…

Now it’s a different thing.  We grew up.  We parted houses forming our own families. Even though our schedule doesn’t allow us to see each other very often we are very close.  We are twice sisters – by the bloodline of our parents and by the bloodline of our Savior Jesus Christ.

She’s someone I can look up to.  I’ve seen her pass though some dark valleys with her eyes closed, many times drowned in tears.  I’ve seen her climb mountains on her knees, and yell alone in the silence.  She always prays her way through any hurdles, out of any burden, and up into the throne of God!  She doesn’t contemplate defeat; she doesn’t allow her lips to say the lies her enemy tries to poke into her head. She lives by the Word – the Living Word of God!  She only accepts what is written.  She knows who she is, whom she serves, and where she is going.  With each new trial I’ve seen her grow stronger.  Her faith is unshakable!

My first sister is Kendali.  She’s a small-framed woman with the spirit of a giant, an angel in disguise.  Uncountable times she has rescued me, emotionally, spiritually, financially and physically.  She’s a mother admired and duly honored by her kids.  She’s a blessing beyond measure to all who know her.  She’s truly an example to follow, a role model.  She’s a pearl indeed!