1 b (1) : to express thoughts, opinions, or feelings orally (2) : to extend a greeting (3) : to be friendly enough to engage in conversation
I read a blog post last week exhorting women to speak. Moments after reading it in my Google reader, a friend e-mailed me a link to it. I guess God was just underlining the point. If that didn't get through, He conveniently arranged a fight between my husband and me about my inability/unwillingness/ineptitude at communicating my thoughts and actions, much less my wants and needs.
Speak? About what, exactly? What could I possibly have to say that others need to hear?
Speak? And risk that I actually say something and someone listens? Or doesn't listen? Which would actually be worse?
Speak? At the expense of listening? Alongside it? After it? Before it? How does this work?
Speak? What words? Comforting ones? Encouraging ones? Or the ones I don't even let my mind think, much less utter aloud?
I started this blog post a few hours ago, got as far as the title and decided I didn't have anything to say worth saying. So I closed it up and went away. Then my husband's frustration with me overflowed and as my eyes did the same, I became resigned to writing. Sometimes God can feel like a bully. He just won't let it go until I give up my own idea of who I am and step a tiny bit outside of my shell.
I had planned to write about this year's election. About how it tore my heart wide open to see how divided we are as a country. And how my torn-open heart led to no news, no NPR, no debates. I could not bear it. Instead I prayed. About who to vote for. Whether to vote. About who I should and could be in a country so set on drawing lines between us and them. Because if those are the only choices, I don't know where to stand. I want to stand in the middle. With people who both agree with me and disagree with me, but who seek to find common ground and a place to start.
I've begun to think that the only way to really honor God come election time is with lots of prayer. Not prayer for specific outcomes, but prayer for guidance - guidance on what issues make my heart leap with resonance or ache for resolution. Because the way I want to vote is by praying and asking God to reveal my heart and then following that. I think this could be the solution to our divided country: if every Christian prayed and asked God to reveal which particular issue was most important to them. I believe we would each get answers as varied as we are - and the coming together of all of those things would be both healing and God-glorifying. Like the Enneagram, which shows us the face of God in all the different ways He made us, our votes would reflect Him, too - by their diversity and variances.
Sadly, I don't see this happening anytime soon. Because it would require that we not let others decide the issues and our positions for us. It would require seeking to understand what God wants for us as individuals - and this would require a great deal of asking and listening. Not to mention faith that we would actually hear an answer to our queries.
The day after the election, I sat down with my daughters and explained to them the issues that make my heart ache and my hand push the green vote button. I told them there are others equally passionate about other issues - and that is good and right. I hope they will always think before voting. And I hope they'll be bolder in speaking up than their mother.
I hope they will retain the voices that are often raised inside the four walls of our home. I hope they will fight to know who they are and not flinch from seeing it revealed. I hope they will speak. I hope they will be spared the fear that their words don't matter, aren't worth hearing, should be buried and forgotten. I hope they don't believe life is easier if they just shut up and go along. And I fear for these hopes to be realized I must begin to model something very different.
May I learn to speak kindly, lovingly, strongly, wrongly, at great cost and when I am most afraid.