Dyann Shepard has released a new book.
It’s called Wisdom: Capturing the Power of Our Words.
I connected with Dyann at SCRIBE, my training for authors, which is now completely online.
Recently, I caught up with Dyann to discuss her new book.
This is a study about the relationship of growing in God’s wisdom to the power of our words. How did you find the lives of the women who first went through the study were benefited?
We actually began the study because we, and especially myself, were noticing our verbal boundaries were beginning to weaken as we aged. We knew Proverbs and the book of James had a lot to say about our words.
When we started making lists of the verses relating to the tongue we were shocked at the number and we saw the relationship between pursuing wisdom and taming our tongues.
We began to understand that as we pursue God’s wisdom the fruit of this pursuit is compassion, kindness, listening ears, wise council, intimacy with God, peace, just to name a few.
These attributes are essentials in using our words to foster healing, blessing, and to lift others up rather than tear them down.
We became very aware of our responses versus just reacting to what others thought or said. As we actively and intentionally grew in the wisdom of God, our patterns of conversations changed. Our relationships improved. We listened, truly listened more.
It has been 10 years since we first studied Proverbs and we have gone back to the lessons learned over and over.
You illustrate lessons on communicating with wisdom with a personal story of having to learn this lesson yourself. Can you tell us about that?
Yes, my husband and I attended a meeting on the issue of oil shale fracking. The speaker spoke for about an hour reading in a monotone voice verbatim from her notes. When people began to ask questions she seemed dismissive and I thought rude and defensive. I became very angry.
As the evening went on, I became angrier and angrier to point I didn’t hear her any more. My anger took over. I raised my hand and then publicly admonished her for her rudeness by requesting that she give the audience the same respect we had given her. Even telling you this, I continue to be embarrassed by my behavior.
My husband was shocked.
The room was silent. The minute the words left my mouth I thought “What just happened? Why did I say that?” Now, I was the rude one, not the speaker. The irony is I have always been known for my cool head and calm spirit but not that night. As the weeks went on, I was more and more ashamed and embarrassed.
Through many discussions with the women of my Bible study and prayer, the Lord revealed to me that my reaction had nothing to do with the speaker and everything to do with unresolved hurt from my past. I had buried the pain for so long, I didn’t know how hard my heart had become.
You say your own heart was “fracked” by the Holy Spirit after this incident. What do you mean?
The meeting was addressing oil shale fracking which is the process of tremendous pressure and hot water being shot deep into the ground to extract oil from hard oil rocks known as oil shale. On a personal level it took the deep, humiliating, hot pressure of the Holy Spirit to break up the hardness in my heart thereby freeing the Lord to work in me and through me in ways I never imagined.
My soul was free to experience God in a new fresh way.
How do situations of hurt and shame from our past result in unwise words being spoken?
Unresolved hurt and shame become the murky filter we see life through. We don’t see clearly. We can’t see clearly. Because of this we hear with faulty ears and react with a faulty understanding resulting in unwise words that often hurt and harm others. We don’t give others the benefit of the doubt.
Why do you think wisdom is referred to as the “tree of life?”
Because Jesus is ultimately our tree of life and He is the embodiment of wisdom. Proverbs 3:18-19 says “She (wisdom) is a tree of life to those who embrace her, and those who lay hold of her are blessed. “The Lord founded the earth by wisdom and established the heavens by understanding.”
Jesus is our tree of life, and where was He when the world was created? With God because He is God. “In the beginning, was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being” (John 1:1-3).
What are some things we can do when we are tempted to speak in anger or haste?
Take a deliberate pause. Put some space between your mind and your mouth. Proverbs 10:19 says “When there are many words, wrongdoing is unavoidable, But one who restrains his lips is wise.”
I share in the study a time when anger overtook me and I hurt someone badly. If I had put some space between my mind and my mouth, taken a deep breath, thought about the consequences of my words, I would have avoided hurting this person.
Developing the habit of meditating on Proverbs will make all the difference. As people go through the study, the are encouraged to meditate, pray and ask the Lord to reveal to them specific areas where they need acknowledge and yield to what the Lord reveals to them. In fact each session begins with a least one verse, a prayer and the acronym PRAY.
P—Prepare by praying for a receptive heart.
R—Read and reflect on the passage.
A—Acknowledge how it applies to your life.
Y—Yield by saying, “Yes, Lord.”
Acknowledging is not enough. We need to yield and give up control.
You center this study in the book of Proverbs. What is the main lesson you have found it has to teach us?
When we seek the wisdom of God, our speech and conversations will change. We will grow in the desire to bless, heal and uplift with our words. God has given us the privilege of speaking the truth in love.
Is Wisdom: Capturing the Power of Our Words suitable for personal study, or is it designed for a group?
It is suitable for either personal or group study. However, I believe the deepest work will be done in a group where the participants can share their stories without shame, grow from them and embraced the joy of God’s healing together. Iron sharpens iron. When one life is lifted up in Christ we are all lifted up.
You shared a story about how your words hurt someone badly. Did you ever see or speak to the person you hurt again?
Yes, one of the important lessons was it is never too late to ask for forgiveness. A major part of my story is how we met again, what transpired and the forgiveness received.
Additionally, I was able to forgive and have compassion for the person who hurt me. The process of receiving and giving forgiveness is shared throughout the eight sessions. God was unfolding new revelations to me even as I wrote. The process was a gift to me and I hope will be a gift to the participants.
What surprised you the most as you studied Proverbs?
The number of verses in Proverbs that relate tour words and the direct correlation of growing in wisdom and taming our tongues. Proverbs 6:16-19 says there are 7 things the Lord HATES.
Five out of seven have to do with communication, verbal and non-verbal. This shocked me and forced me to take my words much more seriously.