I’ve been making my way through Edie Melson’s “Soul Care: When You’re Weary” and am encountering the faithfulness of God in new ways.
There was one exercise that hit me hard and got me thinking more about the power of words. Edie listed a group of words and asked us to pick one, think about it for 5 minutes, and then write what comes to mind. Since my life revolves around words, the editing, publishing, and promotion of, this was a significant ah-hah moment for me. I chose the word SILENT.
All of my life I’ve had people tell me to “be quiet.”
First my mom, then my maid (about our “little secret”), then my teachers, then my husbands (not Ross), then my “pastor.” I guess I’ve been an interrupter in some ways – but have been made to feel unworthy of speaking so the shame took over and had its way with me.
It went to the extreme when I fell prey to a toxic, narcissistic, spiritually abusive church leader who pounded that shame into my very being using scripture out of context. There were times where my punishment for not “obeying leadership” was that I would not be allowed to speak to anyone, or even send emails to communicate. Shunned into complete silence.
Even now, when I bring up issues that stir up emotions, like the fact that there are sexual predators in the Christian publishing industry and in the evangelical church, I often hear “Stop talking about this! Can we please just extend forgiveness and move on?”
So I’m seeing that silence has a few different sides.
First, there is being shushed or silenced when we should speak up and address conflict or expose evil, and the flip side is talking or expounding when we should be still and asking God what He says.
Then there is the discipline of solitude to be still and connect with God, meditating on His Word contrasted by the many ways the enemy thwarts this process. He is a master of drawing us away from silence with busyness or drama or anxiety.
So, silence can be a good thing or a bad thing.
Mostly for me, it has been punished and shaming for being verbal and outspoken. Early on as a strong-willed child, and more recently for bringing up and into the light difficult issues that stir up pain. Pain that God wants to be healed but the wounded wish would just go away.
But it’s also something I struggle with when I need to be still and listen for God and my mind is going a million miles a minute.
Silence. It’s a double-edged sword. It can bring death or life. Bondage or freedom. Pain or joy.
Worth pondering in more detail and depth… so am I the only one who struggles like this?