This week I’m thinking about my own need to be more outspoken about what I am thinking and feeling.
More often than not in a bid to be “nice”, and with a deep desire “not to offend anyone”, and with an deep aversion for, “conflict” I tend (many times, not always) to hold back from sharing what I’m really thinking or feeling.
At times, I think this is actually wise and necessary and helpful – as God teaches us, there is a time for everything. “There is a time to be silent and a time to speak” as we read in Ecclesiastes 3.
Unfortunately, though, I think that sometimes when it’s time to speak, I choose to be silent, and when it’s time to be silent, I choose to speak. “Lord have mercy!” –
I pray God gives me (and all of us) the discernment to know when we should be silent and when we should speak, and I also pray that when we do speak, God would give us the wisdom to say only what needs to be said and in the way that it ought to be said. Amen?
Now, as I ponder this, some of the reasons I tend to hold back include the following:
How do I know I’m right? What if I’m wrong?; Is this just my ego, or is this God’s leading?; Saying something will lead to discomfort, and I don’t like discomfort!; I want people to like me, so I’ll just keep quiet; What if they hear me wrong and get offended and angry?
I guess most of these are legitimate concerns and one does need to think carefully before they speak (so as to avoid putting your foot in your mouth). But, I also think that sometimes we paralyse ourselves with overthinking (I know I do) and then end up not doing what in hindsight we realise we should have done.
Is this just my experience? I hope not! I hope I’m having a “normal” human experience in this (at least for some).
So, where to from here?
Well, I think we all need to get to a place where we can just be ourselves and have open and robust conversations with each other. And even if we disagree with each other, we will still love each other and support each other. This is definitely a lost art in our day don’t you think?
Probably because we see so many people doing a bad job of public discourse – with anger, belligerence, unkindness, arrogance, ignorance etc. The question is, “How do we counteract this?” Well, one of my favourite quotes from Richard Rohr is, “The best criticism of the bad is the practice of the better. Oppositional energy only creates more of the same.” Good hey?
So, instead of criticising bad discourse we should practice good discourse. And what does good discourse look like? Well here’s a couple of things off the top of my head –
Not getting personally triggered; Honouring the dignity of the other; Trying hard to see things from the other’s point of view; Being diligent in our research (and not just living in an echo chamber where we only listen to “experts” who agree with us); Being prayerful in our considerations; Maintaining perspective about what the core issues are and what the peripheral issues are, etc.
I’m sure you could come up with plenty of others off the top of your head as well! I’m happy to hear them.
One place I’ve personally seen good discourse done is on a facebook group I am part of called, “With All Due Respect.” You can check it out here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/WADRbyEternityNews/. Anyone can join this group to observe and/or participate, but please be warned, it is strongly moderated and bad discourse is not tolerated.
I hope that we as a church can reach a level of good public discourse where we can speak the truth in love, and hear the truth in love, and be humble to admit when we’re wrong, and be humble to change our minds, or perhaps even agree to disagree while still remaining in fellowship together.
And, no doubt, we’ll get there only by the grace of God!
See you on Sunday friend!