January 20, 2010

Sticks and Stones, Love (Positive Theology: v)

There’s great irony in my writing this blog entry.
I want to talk about the power of the spoken word and I’m typing. Hear me out though, metaphorically speaking. My whole life I’ve heard, “Sticks and stones will break my bones but words will never hurt me.” Recently, I’ve given it a second thought.

Commuting from Nashville to Lexington every week last semester game me a lot of time to think about the words I’ve heard and spoken.
Then, this week, I lost my voice and I couldn’t speak for about three days, so I had time to think about life without words. I went through an entire day of work without my full voice. It was amazing how differently life happened without the ability to speak. My job requires that I go in and out of offices picking up paper for shredding. Then, I’m required to put the paper in a truck and shred it, ‘Mobile Shredding,’ it says on the side of my truck. There’s a small constituent of receptionists in Nashville that know me only as “The Shredder.” I’ve never met the ninja turtles, but maybe if I keep this identity, they’ll find me. Going in and out of these offices without the ability to speak made me realize that they probably think I’m mute! I had the thought—how much different would I be if I could never speak? I don’t really know, but I’d probably be a better person... maybe worse.

I am making a verse in Hebrews 3 one of my life verses: “Encourage one another daily as long as it is called today.”
I don’t know how to encourage someone without using words. Okay, I guess I could write letters and give pats on the back, but I’m not sure if there’s a more powerful way to encourage someone than to speak. I guess that’s why preaching is powerful. I say preaching not in a negative way but in the true meaning of the word. Preaching, when done well, is encouraging. Everyone thinks about God, but it’s completely different to talk about him. I used to think that preaching meant coming up cool, new ideas about the nature of God every week. But I think preaching is different. Preaching doesn’t require innovation but simply using the spoken word to remind the people of God the content and meaning God’s story.

It’s kind of like when you know someone is holding something against you and they just need to say it.
You wanna scream: “Say what you need to say?” But John Mayer’s words would only make the elephant in the room more awkward. I think God wants me to confess more... out loud. Not just to Him but to people I’ve hurt. James told the early Christians, “Therefore, confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.” Something happens when we speak the truth even if it’s about sin.

There’s something about talking to people that we tend to avoid: confrontation.
It’s so easy to talk about people, but it’s hard to talk to people. I have this theory that I’ll never be able to prove. It’s that every war, divorce and broken relationship comes from bad communication—words spoken rashly, words spoken in hate or words never spoken at all.


Nathan said...

I really like this. Do you think that sometimes, in these broken relationships, words have been spoken, but not heard though.

For instance, a wife speaks to her husband, but because he does not want to hear, the words are neglected.

How do you think neglection of spoken words and the confession of brothers and sisters in the church effects the continual cycle of relationships?

Chad said...

Nathan, nice critique. I like it. Neglect of listening to the spoken word is something I hadn't thought of for this blog post. This is just as harmful as not speaking an apt word. When we don't listen, we are telling people they are not human.... Conversely, when we listen, we are affirming their common humanity.

I'm not sure what you mean by continual cycle of relationships but I do think that our neglect of confession does negatively affection relationships. Especially, when we don't address the wrong we've done to someone or the other way around. Matthew 18 is one of the least understood and practiced passages in Matthew. If we would simply learn to confront in a healthy way, I think that the cycles within a relationship would spin more healthily.

Speaking of marriage, it's interesting that Paul speaks directedly towards the attitude in life--"Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers" (1 Pet 3:7). Wow... the way we talk and treat others close to us can hinder our relational intimacy with God.

What did you mean by continual cycle of relationships?