Growing up, and in fact for a large portion of my adult life, I have worked hard to be intentional with my words. As a child, my words were selected with the singular goal of being liked. Not being “too much.” Keeping small, and only sharing when it seemed absolutely necessary. As I got older, my sights remained largely on being nice. Not too ruffly. (I know, that’s not a word). Not too salty. Ok, maybe salty to the extent that I made an occasional point. Overall, however, I think I inwardly had a sense of pride in not offending people and maintaining a reputation for being a nice person; holding onto relationships until either the end of time, or seasons of life happened to send us in different directions.
I believe now, however, that time has come to an end.
It’s a strange thing, finding your voice. Stranger still as you begin to notice who and why someone deems one’s voice as acceptable. Most notable in my journey of discovery so far has been the propensity of others to either color my words through the filter of their own personal ideology, or, to assign to me character flaws if my position is different from their own navigation system.
Recently a friend had stated that she had never really known where I stand politically, while still others have thought I was pro-Trump, anti-Trump, for our local politicians or against; all perceived through lenses which were not necessarily mine. I have received hate mail, correction, and praise, all based on the premise of someone else’s personal interpretation.
I think it’s wise to listen. To ask. To understand. In Psalm 2:34, the song writer asks the Lord for understanding. Now, while this scripture is speaking of enlightenment of God’s precepts, the heart behind it is still one of a sincere desire to not just take the laws at face value, but to fully engage in the knowledge of the directives and their place in his life.
So often information or opinion comes our way and we are quick to categorize it as good or bad, true or false, based solely upon our own world (or self!) view. Consequently, we often miss opportunities to fully engage in a more complete comprehension of the world, and people, around us. Even posing thought provoking questions, or a passionate plea to weigh an opposing view is seen as hateful or conspiring. In a time of great access to communication and understanding, we often remain in a position of stagnation and judgement, while assigning the very same attributes to those with whom we disagree.
And while I know it’s been said by many, I feel compelled to restate it, as our little part of the world continues to become colder and more hostile to voices of reason and contemplation. Bridge builders and peacemakers grow weary as indignation and self-righteousness increasingly lord over others and reign above relationship.
I admonish you to get quiet before the Lord. To make time spent in His Word of paramount importance. God’s people are called to look different. Sound different. To act in a manner counter to culture, and yet in accordance with our world. To be in the world and not of it, is to actively engage with it, while remaining steadfast in not being influenced by it. To do so we must choose to be influenced, inspired, directed and developed by the Words of God.
Listen. Understand. Engage. Speak. Be true to who you are in Him, even if you end up sounding ruffly…