Loss For Words

It used to be that when I was having trouble writing, the best remedy was to read. It reminded me that I loved words.  I loved giving myself over to someone else’s vision, to being led, to being thrilled by a turn of phrase, a clever twist, being surprised that words on a page could evoke emotions usually reserved for real life. 

When I seemed unable to do any of those things myself, I sat at someone else’s feet and let them school me. It was liberating, nourishing, invigorating.  

Lately, it has had the opposite effect. The more I read, the less I want to write.  In the last few years, the non-fiction writing I have consumed from newspapers, magazines, Twitter (lots of Twitter) has left me exhausted and for the first time in my life, at a loss for words. 

Two things have happened that have made the thought of opining about anything as appealing as root canal.  Twitter is at the heart of both.  

Ironically, I started on Twitter because of  my writing.  I was told that to be successful, I had to build my platform, and social media was the way to do it.  I quickly realized I’m just not a Twitter kind of gal.  Other than promoting my blog, I couldn’t think of a thing to say.  But, I did get sucked into the vortex of other people’s opinions, hot takes and flame wars. And all those voices have just drowned out my own.  Like someone who spends all day working in a candy factory, the last thing I wanted to do was have a chocolate bar when I got home.

It’s not just exhaustion, it’s also fear. Because of the nature of Twitter — of any kind of public discourse, really — I am loath to peek out of my foxhole for fear of drawing fire.  I have seen what happens to people to wade into that battlefield and it ain’t pretty.

When I think about it, there are things I want to say, but I am afraid.  I want to set the record straight about things I know are not true.  I want to present another side to a story that is being presented as incontrovertible fact.  I want to come out of the closet and say, “You know those people you think are stupid/evil/enemies of all that is good and holy — well, that’s me.” This leaves them with two choices:  reevaluate their assessment of those people, or reevaluate their assessment of me.  I fear it would be the latter. 

I think I know what I can expect from the world at large.  But it becomes particularly difficult when it comes to people who share my faith.  I’ve come to expect vitriol and closed minds in the public square.  It seems people have retreated to their own fortified castles where only the like-minded are welcomed and the thick stone walls ensure no other voices penetrate.  I fight hard, not always successfully, against this in my own life.  When I come across a story that fits a little too perfectly with my ideas about things, I try to stop and see if it is really true.  Often it is not, and I am chastened.  I fight hard to keep the drawbridge down, lest someone with whom I disagree cares to visit. 

But I have a higher standard for people in the body of Christ.  Not that they’re perfect saintly people all the time.  I know I am not, and I know they aren’t either.  But, I do expect some shared notion of grace and mercy, some expectation of mutual respect simply because we are both children of God.  Alas, I have been disappointed many times.  Disappointed in how others spoke to and of me.  Disappointed in how I treated others.  

I once belonged to a Christian organization that preached the virtue of diversity, and rightly so.  But when I dared to transgress the accepted zeitgeist, I learned that this didn’t include diversity of opinion.  When I tried to express my (unacceptable) views, I was called vile names, the worst being “not a true Christian.” I expected that from cable news.  I didn’t expect it from the gathering of saints.  So, I stopped speaking and I stopped listening. Another fracture in the body of Christ. And wasn’t Satan pleased!  

In fact, I wonder if this era of fighting like cats in a bag isn’t Satan’s finest hour. Encouraging our darkest impulses, especially those who belong to the Lord, hoping to peel the sheep from the shepherd. Fomenting fear, keeping people slinging mud, hurling epithets, using primal screams in the place of reasoned discourse.  Or worse, scaring people into silence and silos.  

“The Lord said to Satan, “Where have you come from?” Satan answered the Lord, “From roaming throughout the earth, going back and forth on it.” (Job 1:7)

It is has ever been thus.

4 thoughts on “Loss For Words

  1. Satan is a busy guy and every day ready to trip us up. Good article. Lots of ponder. Than you for sharing your thoughts. This popped into my mind. When I say, “I am a Christian,” I’m not shouting, “I’ve been saved!”I’m whispering, “I get lost! That’s why I chose this way”

    When I say, “I am a Christian,” I don’t speak with human prideI’m confessing that I stumble — needing God to be my guide

    When I say, “I am a Christian,” I’m not trying to be strongI’m professing that I’m weak and pray for strength to carry on

    When I say, “I am a Christian,” I’m not bragging of successI’m admitting that I’ve failed and cannot ever pay the debt

    When I say, “I am a Christian,” I don’t think I know it allI submit to my confusion asking humbly to be taught

    When I say, “I am a Christian,” I’m not claiming to be perfectMy flaws are far too visible but God believes I’m worth it

    When I say, “I am a Christian,” I still feel the sting of painI have my share of heartache which is why I seek His name

    When I say, “I am a Christian,” I do not wish to judgeI have no authority — I only know I’m loved. Blessings, Patsy 🙏❤️🙏🌷

  2. Again… so real.

    The response of those in Christ has been devastation to me.

    Following Christ in and with tension…how to seek heart transformation( it’s not just words expressed , is it? It’s what is in the heart that bears fruit)…

  3. I have had this experience many times, and this is one of the reasons I am never really comfortable in a church. I have expressed my opinions on issues in a mature and calm manner. and have been blasted out of the water for it or at the very least given those “what are you saying as a Christian look.” We do live in a world now where social media can be used for good things, but most of time it seems that it has become a sounding board for hurtful rhetoric, and “nasty” people. I have been in Bible studies where I knew to keep my mouth shut otherwise I would have consequences. I can read a room pretty good, and don’t have the energy anymore to take a stand on what I believe becasue I know the backlash will come. I am very pro LGTBQ aware and I don’t thing being gay means you are going to hell. Nor do I think a fourteen year old year who is raped by her father has to have that baby. Not everything is black and white. All or nothing thinking leaves no room for possibility or kindness. This is why I rather worship in a tent as Jesus did, and then celebrate a nice dinner with others and speak truth from the heart, than attend an “Christian” event where backstabbers can lurk. When you take away freedom of speech is when you run into problems.

  4. Amen, Laura. People are so afraid of not belonging — especially in this age –they will fiercely police the boundaries of any group essential to their identitiy.

    But, our first belonging should be to our expansive God, whose image we see in Jesus. Jesus was always participating in communities of interpretation, in constant dialogue with other Jews about how to interpret and apply the Torah. That living, arguing, listening and learning community should be essential to our faith. This is what the Jews understand as the “oral Torah,” the ongoing revelation from God that exceeds the written Torah.

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