DISCLAIMER – I AM ABOUT TO GRACE YOU WITH INCREDIBLE WISDOM THAT I FIND DIFFICULT TO FOLLOW. PLEASE DO NOT HOLD ME RESPONSIBLE WHEN, SOMETIME IN THE NEAR FUTURE, I DO NOT TAKE MY OWN ADVICE TO HEART.
“Soon silence will have passed into legend. Man has turned his back on silence. Day after day he invents machines and devices that increase noise and distract humanity from the essence of life, contemplation, meditation… tooting, howling, screeching, booming, crashing, whistling, grinding, and trilling bolster his ego. His anxiety subsides. His inhuman void spreads monstrously like a gray vegetation.” ~Jean Arp
I grew up on a farm. It was pretty much heaven on earth for a seven-year-old kid: plenty of animals to antagonize, plenty of space to grow into. Fruit trees erupted along our stone lane, perfect for climbing and hiding in. Two huge oak trees grew in our front yard – one of them was struck by lightning while my mom walked underneath it. She was okay, but later we found pieces of the tree lying in the far field.
Someone had divided the huge farmhouse into two sides, so we shared the house with another family. They were a nice, peace-loving group, and they had a boy my age.
But we just didn’t get along.
No matter what we tried to play, we ended up fighting. No matter where we played – the cemetery, the church parking lot across the road, the creek down by the Amish schoolhouse – it ended with conflict. He was large, I was quick, so we were a good match: my rapier-like tongue cut him with its sharp wit, and his lumbering body, if it caught me, would pin me to the rich earth and smoosh me like a grape.
Based on our personalities, and the age we were when we met, we were just not meant to be friends.
* * * * *
There’s a guy at my church who sees a world I don’t see. He’s certain, he’s full of belief and he’s definitely never wrong. I, on the other hand, am intrigued by paradoxes, don’t worry so much about doubt and am pretty certain that most of us are wrong most of the time. Or much of the time.
This guy and I, we just don’t make good Bible study buddies.
And that’s okay.
Sometimes I think restoring unity will be more about disengaging from conversations than it will be about changing people’s minds. And this is the difficult part, because we all usually want people to think like we do, or to at least be open to it.
What if those of us concerned with restoring unity would spend a month without commenting on blogs or Facebook statuses? What if, whenever we found ourselves on the precipice of a conversation that we know will lead to an argument, we engaged with God (instead of the person) in the spiritual disciplines of silence, meditation and prayer? What if we let our modern, rational minds take a back seat and instead relied on the mystical, the unexplained, the Holy Spirit?
If we want to restore unity, sometimes we have to shut up. Sometimes we have to refrain from hitting “send” or “submit.”
Sometimes we have to turn the other cheek.
“If we are only certain in our beliefs, we get dignified and severe and have the ban of finality about our views; but when we are rightly related to God, life is full of spontaneous, joyful uncertainty and expectancy” (Oswald Chambers, My Utmost For His Highest)
This blog is part of the “Rally to Restore Unity” organized by Rachel Held Evans. Check out her blog to find out more or to see a full list of blogs on this subject.
4 Replies to “Restore Unity: Don’t Hit “Submit””
Yes, well said. It is freeing for us as well to let go of other people’s views. Why do we take so much responsibility for what other people believe or think? Why do we need to change people so fervently? Why do we need people to be like us? Well, as you know because you lived with me, I’m an arguer. I like a good debate. But it used to be real problem for me to not let other people have their views. The way I would argue would alienate people. Sometimes that still happens. The root of this issue, I believe and have somewhat learned in psychology, is that we feel at a deeper level that our beliefs are WHO we are and this just isn’t true. So when someone thinks differently from us, we feel our identity is threatened. The lower the sense of self, the greater the need to fight for what we believe is a part of our Self. But the more solid one begins to feel in who they are, the less the need to convince others of their views. To put it simply, desperate argument stems from insecurity in one’s self.
Silence is becoming a lost art – I will agree to that. I fear for too liberal an application, though, because silence is often taken as consent and agreement. There are many situations where silence is neither good nor appropriate, and I hope we re-learn the discernment and lack of ego to tell which we need at a given time.
Sara, I would totally agree. It is a balance. Also, speaking out of one’s convictions and “truth” in a calm-assertive way (ode to Dog Whisperer) is different than speaking in a desperate way to convince others you are right. There is a different “extending” in the latter.
I enjoyed reading this very much! I liked the anecdote about you as a kid fighting with the neighbor boy. I think I will join your campaign and learn to keep my mouth shot more often.
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