This past week I’ve written a sermon, an article for the school newsletter, a reflection paper on an interview I did, replied to countless emails, edited two papers for other students, started reviewing a friend’s sermon, am about to write a paper on a passage from the book of Mark, and have one other paper to write by Friday. Last year I was begging for more opportunities to write. This year I’m drowning in opportunities.
And honestly, I wouldn’t have it any other way.
I find great freedom in writing because I don’t always use my voice. One of the reasons is because I’m one of those people who mulls things over and contemplates…I chew on them for a while…then I decide whether or not to say anything. One of the other reasons is because I don’t always feel my voice is of any importance. When I’m in a discussion I don’t always say what needs to be said; sometimes this is good, but other times I have known I needed to speak but never did, and reaped the consequences of it.
Speaking up when it’s needed is necessary – I can recall many times on the playground as a child when I should have stood up for myself or my friends. I can recall being in conversations with someone who was clearly in the wrong but allowed them to think they were right because I didn’t want to argue. I’ve been in relationships where I haven’t expressed my feelings, choosing to bottle them up instead, and allowed the relationship to abuse me and who I was.
There are times when people don’t have a voice, or can’t speak up when they need to do so. There are abused spouses who are afraid to speak for fear of the retributions. There are the immigrants who don’t know the local language and instead suffer in silence. There are the children who don’t know how to express what they’re feeling or experiencing. There are the assaulted who are unsure of where to report their attack. Countless people with things to say and no where (or not knowing where) to say them.
We are living in a time where it’s more important to get out our words, talk over one another, and speak before being spoken to, instead of closing our mouths and opening our ears. We may allow the other to speak, but how often do we actually hear the words they are saying? We might give someone across the table (or the internet) a chance to say something, but do we put the brakes on our mind to attentively and intentionally listen to the words the other is saying?
Perhaps we should do less talking, less writing, less proclaiming, and allow those who have not been given the opportunity to do so, to speak. But we must do more than this – we must encourage those who have been holding back to say something; we must give them safe places and warm occasions to say what they have been wanting to say. Most importantly, though, we must close our mouths and open our hearts to the words the other will speak.
They need to speak, and we need to hear. God, give us all strength – to speak if we need to speak, and to hear if we need to hear.
much love. sheth.