The Silent Minority

i-was-quiet-but-i-was

We live in a culture that rewards us when we speak. We blast our thoughts out on Twitter, on Facebook and on Youtube. I’m even blasting my thoughts, currently. While this can be a good thing, I think our culture is becoming so obsessed with always having to be heard that we forget that sometimes silence is just as powerful.

The quote “My dear, you’ve missed so many opportunities to say nothing,” crosses my mind often.

I think that this is a rather radical way to look at life, especially considering that our culture abhors awkward silences and not throwing out the last word during a debate. I find myself mentally combing through my interactions, looking for all the times I forgot to say nothing. Trying to not miss an opportunity to stay silent challenges me. And I think it should challenge you, as well.

The next time somebody tries to bait you into a debate, capitalize upon this opportunity to stay silent and truly learn what and why they believe the opposite of what you do. To do this, you must be prepared to swallow your pride but do so while remembering that you’re learning more about why you disagree with them- not just being reaffirmed that you do.

The next time friends are discussing a subject or hobby that is unfamiliar to you, don’t try to change the subject so that you can contribute, too. Realize that this is an opportunity to stay silent and perhaps learn something new about your friends. Who knows, you might even be inspired to read up on a new subject or take up a new hobby.

Being able to stay silent throughout these examples take maturity. I know it isn’t easy to sit silently while somebody spouts off opinions that you have no tolerance for. I know it isn’t easy to be the odd man out in a conversation.

It isn’t easy because, when we are silent, we hear our own insecurities. When we quietly let others share their opinion, we worry that others will find us to be less intelligent than we are. When we stay silent amongst friends, we worry that they don’t really care for us and that they only put up with us out of pity. Or worse, we feel as if we don’t belong.

But, talking over these insecurities only masks the issue. It is like putting a band-aid over a broken bone. To truly conquer these insecurities we must remain silent and acknowledge that our self-confidence is lacking. You will quickly realize that listening to other’s opinions does not leave you less intelligent- it prepares you for the next confrontation. You will realize that your friends won’t find you odd when you drift out the conversation- they will appreciate your maturity in remaining silent instead of abruptly changing the conversation.

Proverbs 17:28 states that “Even fools are thought wise if they keep silent, and discerning if they hold their tongues.” Staying silent has the power to transform the opinions people have of fools. This is a Biblical testament to how powerful listening is.

So, the next time you find yourself in a conversation, I encourage you to briefly consider whether or not you’re about to waste an opportunity to say nothing.

Advertisements

Why You Should be a Reader

When I was younger, I used to get in trouble for hiding books underneath my desk during school. My mom would often catch me with my light on, reading at 1 or 2 in the morning. It was abnormal for me to be without a book in my hand.

Reading was a way of life for me, and I am so happy that is was.

I think that everybody should be an avid reader. Or, at least read a book every month or so. The brain is a muscle and it requires exercise to truly excel. Through reading, you are accumulating a larger vocabulary. You are improving your memory. You are learning how to listen.

Listening is something we struggle with in our culture. In a world of social media and status updates, the norm is for us to get our thoughts out there so we are heard. When correctly reading a book, though, you have to truly read and listen to what the author is trying to communicate. You have to meditate on the ideas presented. You have to try and get to know the various characters found throughout the pages. You have to shove your own thoughts and experiences into the corner of your mind in.

Books don’t stop at just teaching us to listen, though. Books also teach us how to analyze. I know attribute my own analytic ability to how much I read growing up. Author’s try to communicate a messages that aren’t always entirely apparent on the surface of the story. To truly understand what the story means, you have to learn to pick out the detailed hints the author leaves for you. It’s the same in life. Each person you meet has a story that usually isn’t known right away. You can read between the lines in order to get a glimpse into the way they operate.

While I love how reading has taught me to listen and analyze, my favorite is how each book I’ve read has taught me something crucial about the world I live in. I am a firm believer that truth is absolute and that it can be found anywhere. After reading Brave New World, I saw that people crave comfort more than they crave truth. After reading Billy Budd, I learned that actions have consequences, even if motive doesn’t warrant the outcome. After reading Hamlet, I learned that revenge is something that can truly drive you mad.

Reading is about more than being entertained- reading is about viewing the world through a different sense for a few hundred pages. It’s about learning more about yourself. More about others. And more about the world around us.

Reading is about exploring to find the truths God has left for us on this earth.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go read a book.

Shadow Sides

We live in a fallen world where the death that comes with sin has perverted everything around us. I think a part of this perversion takes our greatest God-given gift and mutates it into one of our deepest, if not our worst, struggle.

I find that my mind is both my greatest strength and my greatest weakness. With my mind I have the ability to analyze and have a deep understanding of people. With my mind I am able to write music, poetry, and books. God has blessed me with a mind that understands concepts and how things connect.

None of these gifts come without a price, though. My mind has also taken me to some of the darkest places I have ever been. My mind has held me captive with hopelessness. My mind has twisted me into someone I’m not. My mind has been lost to the addiction that comes with depression.

The Bible states that Satan only wishes to steal and kill and destroy. I don’t think we realize that our talents are anything but off-limits when it comes to Satan’s hatred. He aims to mangle us and destroy everything we are because we are made in the image of God.

This is why Satan targets our greatest gifts or talents. God has implanted each and every one of us with a unique and intentional gift. Some of us have a beautiful heart. Some of us have unparalleled passion. Some of us have the ability to entertain and make others laugh.

What better revenge than to take these gifts and twist them into a horrific ailment?

A beautiful heart becomes anxiety. An unparalleled passion becomes a disconnection from others. The gift of entertainment transforms into a fear of man.

In my case, a creative mind transformed into crippling depression.

I want to remind you that your gifts were not designed for malfunction. Your gifts were not designed with the purpose that their shadow sides would win out in the end.

God has given you special gifts so that they will be used to serve others and fulfill the very special mission He has for you. We see in Jeremiah 1:5 that God knows not only who we are but what role He has for us before we even exist.

The gifts of God are your destiny, not their shadow sides that comes from the perversion of Sin and Satan.