Willard writes, “Why do we insist on talking as much as we do? We run off at the mouth because we are inwardly uneasy about what others think of us. Eberhard Arnold observes: ‘People who love one another can be silent together.’ But when we’re with those we feel less than secure with, we use words to ‘adjust’ our appearance and elicit their approval. Otherwise, we fear our virtues might not receive adequate appreciation and our shortcomings might not be properly ‘understood.’ In not speaking, we resign how we appear (dare we say, how we are?) to God. And that is hard. Why should we worry about others’ opinions of us when God is for us and Jesus Christ is on his right hand pleading our interests (Rom. 8:31-34)? But we do.” (Dallas Willard, The Spirit of the Disciplines)
Of course, sometimes my meaningless babble isn’t because I’m vain, but because I am concerned that the person I am with feels comfortable; awkward silences can be, well, just awkward.
But it is true that, just as often, I speak in defense of myself, even when I am not being accused of anything. Though I’m not being accused, I am also not receiving praise, and, so, I am unsure – unsure if I am okay, if I am accepted, welcomed, etc… Because I have not sufficiently trained my mind, my heart, and my body to live out of the knowledge and experience of the love of God (which Willard reminds us are things the spiritual disciplines facilitate), because I lack the constant remembrance of the complete acceptance I have by virtue of the blood of Christ, I sometimes resort to living on the love and praise of my peers. (Which paralyzes me from loving and accepting them as Christ would; oh, how all of this is so intricately wound and bound up together…)