Pep Talks: Speak Up or Shut Up

Quiet, girl. No one is waiting to hear from you.

I look down to welcome the comfort of stress-related nail biting. You’re right. I should keep quiet. Quiet is good.

I am a contemplative person. When the weight of a conversation rests upon a room, I willingly stay quiet so I can process. I don’t like speaking out of turn. I don’t even like speaking without letting my thoughts go for a bit. I want the words that come out of my mouth to have more poise than I might feel.

But ask my husband, Evan, how quiet I am. Heck, ask my kids. When I’m frustrated, I yell. When I get angry, I let the words spill like a cup tipped over. I’m sure not contemplative with my family, a blessing and a curse.

You aren’t asking for my honesty, but I’m begging to get it out. Because honestly, I feel silenced. I feel like my voice doesn’t always matter. I feel like I have a bucket of good words that most often go unused because I am scared to speak them, for fear of what you might think. I have willingly set myself aside for six months because I wanted to be contemplative about this time we’re in. It didn’t seem right to go crazy with my words, spewing them here or elsewhere, and hoping for a boost to my ego (because that’s what it would ultimately be).

But it’s been a minute. And I’m praying for God to do with these words what they were meant for.

As a young Christian teenager, I held my mentors and adult leaders to a very high standard. I thought of them as the role models I needed in order to become the woman I wanted to be. My ultimate goal was to be a woman of character and integrity, someone who stood on truth and compassion, a person who stood with arms open and eyes fixed on a God who loves immeasurably.

Those people did me well. I entered adulthood with their encouragement in my ears, as well as the long-instilled wisdom from my parents to be a human who changed the world. The possibilities were endless. I wasn’t aiming for the moon. I wanted the galaxies beyond and all the stars surrounding them.

But, things don’t always happen how we think or plan. I got married, had lots of kids, and here I sit, surrounded by toys, diapers, a cup of cold coffee, and the ever-burning fire in my bones with no place to spread it but here. I love this place I’m in so much that the fire doesn’t mind the containment.

However, as I am not so much out changing things, I am here sitting and watching. Contemplating. Wondering how this all must look.

We don’t watch the news around here anymore. If I turned it on, I’d have to turn it back off because of what my children might hear about our president. It’s horrifying and embarrassing, and I’m not okay with it. So I protect my children.

And I have remained silent on this. I will probably remain silent on the internet after this. But I sit here and realize, day after day, that I am not capable of being a woman who believes in Christ Almighty and keep silent about politics these days. You want to know why? Because I am appalled by the Christianity on display these days. It’s not of Christ. It’s just a bunch of opinions and fear.

Quiet, girl.

That’s what I hear from the looks of the people who are older than me. Whenever I feel the need to speak against anything that is of the “Christian” values, I see it in the eyes of many: shut up. But why? Why should I? We’re all in love with Jesus, aren’t we? Or are you in love with policies, being against/for something, and being right?

It is to no one’s fault of my own that I realize: I can hold no one up on a pedestal. Not even the ones I admired so greatly. We’re all so messed up, sin-laden, and imperfect that it is bound to backfire every time. The only one I uphold and look up to these days is a perfect God. Besides, if I’m going to claim His name on my life, I have to meet His standards above all else, don’t I?

And then I see how equal the ground is. How at the foot of the cross, the ground is level, and we’re all down here looking up at a slain Savior with no pedestals bringing anyone closer than another. It shuts my mouth. It makes me put my opinions to rest, reeling in the flame, and reminding me of His words to us hundreds of years ago: love.

Quiet is good. My contemplative nature has shown itself valuable in these days. But some days, God is not interested in quiet women who succumb to the looks of “Shut up, girl. Quiet, girl.” He wants me, loudmouth and all, as long as the words spilling over are from Him. Never from me.

Who are you talking to? And what are you saying? Often, our words are of our own creation, out of our own minds, echoing our confining opinions. Sometimes He wants us to shut up. Listening isn’t possible when we’re shouting. And sometimes He wants us to speak up, because sometimes people are too busy shouting and reposting and demeaning that they can’t hear anything but their own high and mighty voice.

May you be quiet. May you be loud. May you know the difference. May I know the difference.

Published by Janelle Delagrange

Wife to a graphic designer, mom to three young boys, and writer of the soul.

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