Have you ever experienced a level of adversity that shook you but about which you felt helpless? And I’m not talking about Trump.
Has your friendship circle become a gossip gathering under the guise of prayer? Have broken vows made their way to your home? Professionally disrespected, perhaps in a workplace characterized by greed, entitlement, and brazen disregard for ethical conduct? There remains still, our earthy commutes between responsibilities that cannot be overlooked amidst the macro chaos, which is likely stressing our syllables more than usual. Fractures of truth and transparency in friendships, marriage, or work can become overwhelming because they are the very realms, rooms, and roads we connect our convictions to our actions – in being a good friend, feeling loved, and working hard. Suddenly, we are questioning our purpose in that place and perhaps even in life, and even while we know we must “do something” the only thing we feel like doing is indulging our own anger.
And maybe we do for a moment. Or two. The pain is pressing presently nearly too much and we consider yelling the truth from a megaphone. Heck, not that long ago, I would have cheered you on with my own unwritten personal policy of “fighting back with the truth”, born out of necessity and continued in character.
So this may be the hardest thing for me to say right now:
I’m going with God into a certain silence.
Don’t take that to mean the truth isn’t needed. It is.
Don’t take that to mean I don’t speak up. I do.
Don’t take that to mean I’m not emotional about it. I absolutely am.
But I was forced to face these 5 questions:
Is the real reason for my loud lamenting “the truth” or my own title?
While many times we claim we’re “just saying the truth”, we are often looking for confirmation as the recognized right party and the more personal the breach, the more desperately we look for it. Presenting myself as the situational saviour does not do the truth or myself justice, because let’s be honest, even if I wasn’t the one who messed up this time, it’s not my job to advertise who did.
Does my debriefing activate my anger?
Usually, yes. I became physically ill, my heart raced and it ended with a headache. There is a place for ‘telling all’ but not at a dinner party or grocery store run in when unloading is such a visceral experience for all involved.
Who is my confidant?
Because I was making it every body. We all need people who know everything about us, a little about us, and nothing about us. We need equal parts intimacy, acquantaincy, and anonymity so saving the most precious of my pains for my closest and Him clearly marks my refuges and directs me back home.
Am I taking care of the heart of my listener?
Case in point – I was oversharing unneeded details and intricacies, leaving my listener in despair or discouragement. I should have told the truth (“Hey, ya, things are not going well…”) but expressed the heaviest stuff where it could not hurt the hearer – like going to therapy, making art, or working out.
What narrative am I hosting at home?
Uh oh. The little ears were listening and I’ve had to apologize. Repeatedly.
The truth is hearts are hurt in tandem – one cannot give pain unless it has first received it and so the one who has given it to you has been where you are just a little earlier. We do not get soothed or validated by making others feel our pain, but rather, these things are given in the most tender and intimate places of our breastbones and Bibles.
This is not for always or all ways of living. Truth-tellers have the hard job of carrying cares on their shoulders, in their eyes, and under their breath. Discern for yourself how wide and deep and high God’s story is for your situation and what he is asking you to do. Silence is not the emphasis here – sitting with God’s impression upon you is.
For me, right now, silence is giving me the space to:
Regain my stance as a listener.
Expect hostility and express humility anyway.
Know that what God shows me isn’t a party trick.
Learn how to lament.
Draw in the sand.