Christianity 201

March 19, 2014

Devotional Confessional: On Staying Silent

Filed under: Uncategorized — paulthinkingoutloud @ 5:31 pm
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As always, today’s thoughts begin with scripture, but then the writer takes the words of James to heart and personalizes it in a way that those of you who also blog or post to Facebook might relate to. Scripture is always helpful to read, but there are times we really need to pause and let it ‘hit home’ for us, as in today’s example, where the author allows James’ thoughts to speak into his individual situation.

The writer is Rob Martin, the blog is called Abnormal Anabaptist, and as always, you’re encouraged to click through to read this at source, where it appeared as Sacrificial Silence.

Don’t be in any rush to become a teacher, my friends. Teaching is highly responsible work. Teachers are held to the strictest standards. And none of us is perfectly qualified. We get it wrong nearly every time we open our mouths. If you could find someone whose speech was perfectly true, you’d have a perfect person, in perfect control of life.A bit in the mouth of a horse controls the whole horse. A small rudder on a huge ship in the hands of a skilled captain sets a course in the face of the strongest winds. A word out of your mouth may seem of no account, but it can accomplish nearly anything—or destroy it!

It only takes a spark, remember, to set off a forest fire. A careless or wrongly placed word out of your mouth can do that. By our speech we can ruin the world, turn harmony to chaos, throw mud on a reputation, send the whole world up in smoke and go up in smoke with it, smoke right from the pit of hell.

This is scary: You can tame a tiger, but you can’t tame a tongue—it’s never been done. The tongue runs wild, a wanton killer. With our tongues we bless God our Father; with the same tongues we curse the very men and women he made in his image. Curses and blessings out of the same mouth!

My friends, this can’t go on. A spring doesn’t gush fresh water one day and brackish the next, does it? Apple trees don’t bear strawberries, do they? Raspberry bushes don’t bear apples, do they? You’re not going to dip into a polluted mud hole and get a cup of clear, cool water, are you?
James 3:1-12 Message

I am very, very, very tired of remaining silent.  There are any number of issues in the church, in the world, for which I have opinions and thoughts.  I could easily spend hours commenting and writing and giving voice to what I have in my head.  But I do not.  And it gets very, very exhausting staying quiet.  So, why do I keep my mouth shut?

First, because I know that for any of these issues, there are people with great pain who have been deeply wounded because of their own personal experiences within these “spheres” of thought and commentary. For me to give voice to my convictions, my opinions, may re-open those wounds. And I don’t want to do that.  Why? Because I love them. I don’t want them to feel that old pain. I don’t want them to flee from me because I remind them of that pain.  I want them to know that they are loved and valued and that I am safe.  To reopen those old pains may mask this message of love and value… so I stay quiet.

I also stay quiet because I know, in some cases, the “other” voices have not been heard as much as they probably could be or should be.  They deserve to speak as much as anyone does.  These other voices deserve to be allowed to communicate that they DO have wounds and that they DO have pain and that the history behind them is a bad history.  I stay quiet because I want to give space to those voices who have not felt free to speak in the past because of these many acts of wounding.

And then we come to the third reason of staying silent… I’m afraid. The world of social media, as much as there is good in it, can get very, very ugly and scary.  Based upon some of the things I’ve seen and read on Twitter and blogs, anyone who expresses the kinds of opinions that I have on any number of topics are met with anger, the violence of words, distance, and rejection.  It hurts.  It really does hurt to know that, if I speak, I will experience pain.  Additionally, I have many friends and acquaintances that I interact with in the social media world of blogs, Twitter, and  Facebook.  I’m afraid of the loss of friendships.  I am an introvert which means that I deeply treasure the few friendships I have.  I have never been a popular guy so the fact that I have so many people who interact with me and are actually friends with me… do you realize what that means to me?  The high school outcast and “nerd”, to have so many people who treat me as a friend, this is huge.  And, in my mental count, if I come out with my own thoughts on these things, fully half of those folks will disappear from my life, I’m almost sure of it.  I’m afraid of my own pain.

I don’t know if any of this makes sense. I am so tired, so very tired of being quiet. But I know that, at least for now, staying quiet is the most loving thing I can do.  And, for now, for my own mental and emotional health, I need to stay quiet.  Self-esteem issues really suck.  However, it does hurt to remain silent because it means that I must, many times, set aside my convictions for the sake of love… and this kind of sacrifice hurts.. it hurts deeply.

So, sacrificially, I remain silent.  I pray, desperately, for a day, hopefully soon, when this kind of sacrificial silence will no longer be the norm for so many people.  But for now, silence must remain.