Sometimes I say too much of the wrong thing for the worst reason at the most inappropriate time. Sometimes.
For a decades-long stretch, I believed it was nothing much when the other prepubescent party goers duct-taped my mouth shut between the peaks of opening presents and eating cake. It occurred to me if I played along with the popular thing in the room, even if it required humiliation, I could redeem my gangly, 11-year-old self. So I smiled through my pooling spit and acted out the least-coveted role of Girl Who Speaks Before She Thinks. I still can’t fully explain the Why of moments like that one. But I do know that we as people, even as children, can behave like group-think idiots when we’re looking for a laugh or a target. I suppose if we can find a target, that means it’s not us.
This grade school memory ignited an exploration into how I have perceived and used my voice thus far. Duct tape has never belonged over my lips, but even now, no one has to ask me what I’m thinking. My opinion tumbles out and spills all over as if shoved from behind. This makes me cringe inside, like when you eat red onions with lunch and just know you’re the worst experience of your optometrist’s day. Sometimes I tire at the sound of myself seeming to know everything, chattering into a lonely monologue. There are men and women in my sphere – including a husband of 11 years and a nine-year-old self-proclaimed Warrior Princess – who, though they treasure me, probably feel ear-bashed on a semi-regular basis.
So a bind has hovered over my heart for a bit now. I am made to share goodness and I have goodness to share, but it often gets suppressed with the inappropriate, lost in wasteful talking, or smothered by insecure excuses. My thirties have found me discovering who I have always been and what this will mean for my life. Minimally, and most importantly, I am a follower of and a Beloved to Jesus, without whom I’m toast. I am profoundly imperfect at loving him in return as he deserves; he knows this about me and still insists we carry on. I also own an articulate flair along with just enough creativity, life experience, brokenness, and passion to keep things interesting. There’s more, surely, and nothing of who I am and what I offer matters much without love, which seems to be the most powerful force to possess in any situation. When I forget this, I overeat more than the average American, watch too many episodes of Law and Order, and criticize everything and everyone around me.
And this is also true: Sometimes I say just enough of the right thing for the best reason at the exact time it’s needed. So that is where I will set up shop. I’m not holding an internal to speak or not to speak meeting with myself anymore. That is the wrong conversation. It has truly become more about how and why and what and when and to whom I will speak. Choosing to remain quiet is often virtuous; being forced into silence is almost always an injustice. Certainly it’s most tragic when my silencer is me.
Being forced into silence is almost always an injustice. Certainly it’s most tragic when my silencer is me.Click to tweet
So I will speak and I will listen because I know my heart can be with you, whether in person or in words. My stories and yours, even our darkest, can bloom to color when the light touches them. They can carry life into other places and people. They will help us connect with each other, love each other. There is a universal story of life and death and hope that weaves itself through all of us. Well, maybe “weaves” is grandma doing crafts in her comfy chair on Sunday afternoon. I’d say it’s more like DRAGS or CLAWS or EXPLODES. My counseling supervisor tells me that life isn’t so much a journey (grandma’s knitting) as much as it is a marathon (you get that runner’s high, but at some point you’ll wish for death). That seems about right.
Welcome. I’m glad you’re alive. I’m thankful you’re here. I’ll be me and you be you.