The Power of Silence

The Power of Silence

A friend said to me one day that she couldn’t image her commute to work without music, that talk radio show she loves so much or something to fill the quiet. She went on to say that she knew someone who actually rode with nothing on. Can you imagine that? !

Yes, actually I can. I find it interesting that we are a culture that attempts to fill every white space, almost every moment of every day. The Daily News reports that  more than 80% of the world confesses that they can’t do without their mobile devices.

This leaves us with little to no precious time to clear our heads, our thoughts, evaluate what we’ve learned without forces sucking    us in to respond to some type of stimuli– begging us, beseeching us to buy or sell or react emotionally to some news, gossip or current event. Overloaded with information, we are often no better for it. We subconsciously take in stuff which produces no benefit in exchange for something, anything to fill our heads. It’s kind of like eating when you are clearly not hungry.

We seldom give ourselves time to evaluate, ponder or consider whether information is useful before we are back at it taking in more—stuff. And even when we are conversing with others in real time, we often do more talking than listening always ready to pour out from our head what we know. It just seems the natural thing to do considering we know so much. Sigh.

A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of sitting with a curmudgeon old lady who rarely smiles and is never up for small talk. She is not the one to chat about the weather –mentioning how unseasonably warm it is for the month of May. Her talk is purposeful and to the point. When she is done, she stops talking.

There was an incident which occurred with my son and her niece and she came to talk to me about it out of concern for her niece. My first reaction was one of defense. I wanted immediately to remind her that I have successfully raised three children and I’ve got this thank you. I wanted to tell her all I knew on child rearing. Did I mention I have three children? But something inside willed me to hush. Be silent. Listen. And so I did. I took in everything, immediately mentally applying it where it was necessary. No I didn’t listen as we often do; we barely hear what the person is saying because we are awaiting our turn to share, to tell what we know, add meaning and depth when often none is needed. No, I emptied myself of preconceived opinions and drank in her words.

 

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What I noticed is that truly listening is well…humbling. It is like sitting at the feet of a sage for the beauty of their knowledge. Assured that they have a perspective, you haven’t considered or experience in an area where you lack.

I saw that day behind that droopy, leathery face and glassy eyes a women who’d truly lived. Her life hadn’t been particularly exciting but she’d lived. It was the same kind of living I was doing. But the difference was she’d already been there. She wasn’t condescending or mean. She was calm, with a slow, measured rhythm to her words. She wouldn’t allow me to rush her But took her time to ensure I didn’t miss anything.

As writers silence is powerful because it allows us to process knowledge in a way that makes it useful, instead of busy chatter clogging our minds. We began to know how an experience feels, what it tastes like, what it smells like and the way it leaves you in the aftermath. It allows us to compartmentalize what we know and apply it when and where it’s needed and discard what is not needed or at least place it aside until the next time.

Silence is powerful because it shows control and discipline on our part. It forces us to think about what we are thinking about. It helps us to hear our inner voice. It is that voice—the spirit of a man, which guides us into truth, helps us to make sound decisions, not just based on how we feel, but what our spirit is revealing to us. It is the God part of us, because it is he who is feeding our spirit-man; yes. It is spirit to spirit.

The next time your emotions are screaming, or you are tempted to make a decision bred from some emotional high or low or you’re incited to write some crazy, impulsive comment on Twitter or another form of social media, based on what some political blowhard has feed you, I ask you to be still. Be silent. Consider. Think about it. Listen. Simply listen.

Stephen King’s Advice for Writers

Stephen King’s Advice for Writers

His advice has been well publicized, but I thought it worth repeating:

 

  1. First write for yourself, and then worry about the audience. “When you write a story, you’re telling yourself the story. When you rewrite, your main job is taking out all the things that are not the story.”
  2. Don’t use passive voice. “Timid writers like passive verbs for the same reason that timid lovers like passive partners. The passive voice is safe.”
  3. Avoid adverbs. “The adverb is not your friend.” (e.g., “he said happily” and “she said angrily”, etc.)
  4. But don’t obsess over perfect grammar. “The object of fiction isn’t grammatical correctness but to make the reader welcome and then tell a story.”
  5. The magic is in you. “I’m convinced that fear is at the root of most bad writing.”
  6. Read, read, read. “If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write.”
  7. Don’t worry about making other people happy. “If you intend to write as truthfully as you can, your days as a member of polite society are numbered, anyway.”
  8. Turn off the TV. “TV—while working out or anywhere else—really is about the last thing an aspiring writer needs.”
  9. You have three months. “The first draft of a book—even a long one—should take no more than three months, the length of a season.”
Stay Creative!

Stay Creative!

Eight cool things about creativity

Bombard the Darkness with Light

Bombard the Darkness with Light

“The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” (John 1:5)

When I was a kid my mother would say, “What happens in this house, stays in this house.” It was our family’s mantra. It was a theme so instilled until it was no longer a house rule, but a way of living. And even when things started to fall apart, it was ingrained in us to keep mum. When sexual molestation invaded our family unit there was never a question as to whether we would tell someone. We would not. We had become prisoners of our own beliefs. And so for years it went on devastating me and my sister while my parents quietly went on with their lives. And by the time they found out the damage, psychologically had been done to my sister. Somehow I survived only minimally scathed.

Darkness is a powerful force. It is where the spiritual evils live. They don’t lurk here or ease around here they run rampant and free, thriving, feeding off of secrecy and shame and fear—all elements of the dark universe. They unabashedly assault and torment those who are too ashamed to tell and those too fearful to share. They torment best, when in their element.

What is interesting about the story of the woman with the issue of blood as that she came to Jesus secretly. Her plan was to simply touch the hem of his garment, get healed and keep moving. But Jesus called her out, openly, publicly. He stopped in his tracks to give full attention to this woman who had suffered in silence for so long. There was no shame in her affliction because Jesus had come for people just like her! But legalistically she wasn’t even supposed to be seen in public. But the healer had come. The deliverer was here. The law was being fulfilled. No need to hide. No need to feel unworthy.

“For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, (Col. 1:13)

Right now, my daughter is dealing with depression. We are praying and standing on the Word of God for healing and wholeness. When I first found out, my initial instinct was to do as I’d been taught to do from an early age—down play it and deal with it on a very private level. Listen, my friend Satan’s plan is to assault you privately and watch you suffer publicly. To tread gingerly is to battle in the devil’s realm. To keep quiet or low key out of shame is to walk on the same grounds as he.

And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed. (Gen. 2:25)

 

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Shame represents a sin consciousness; it is laid upon us by the enemy. It is a condemning vice which represents blame. Adam and Eve did not know shame until they had a sin consciousness and this was of course after they’d eaten of the forbidden fruit. The book of Revelation calls Satan, “accuser of our brethren” (Rev. 12:10). But Jesus defeated sin by the blood he shed. We no longer carry the guilt and shame of sin. We are free! Therefore we must resist this shame with the Word of God. It is not ours to handle or hold. And once we annihilate the shame we can use our weapons to wage this war confident that we will win.

“The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds.” (II Cor. 10:4)

 

Calling others who understand the power of prayer and are using those same weapons is a way to seriously assault and slay the enemy’s plan. You may have faith. You may be able to pray quite well—so can I. But I know others who can and will agree with me. You cannot have too much faith or too much prayer. My plan is to bombard heaven with the prayers of faith. This doesn’t mean that everyone in your neighborhood has to know everything that is going on in your household. You don’t even have to announce it to the entire church congregation. It simply means, with the leading of God, reaching out to others, with whom you can share your situation.

You see I’m completely vested in my child—spiritually, physically and mentally and it can be trying. Others will be vested with concentrated effort—all out spiritually warfare. The enemy is serious about his attack and we must be likewise about ours. We have all been given a measure of faith. We can use it for ourselves as well as others.

Brooding quietly in darkness waiting for relief is not the answer. There are believers who are willing and waiting to intercede on your behalf. Although there is darkness, the light of Christ cannot stand against it.

 

 

Who Colored My History?

Who Colored My History?

Note: This blog is one that I published in 2013, but I thought it needed a repeat.

 

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February is the month officially designated to celebrate all that is Black in history in America. This is the time that the rest of the nation steps back, acquiesce to our request for alone time and watch us step out in unhinged celebration. There will be dinners and functions, programs and marches; books will be read that that are normally tucked away in seldom visited sections of libraries all over this country. For all of this I am grateful but also puzzled.  I ask, is my history really Black?

Consider this: the contributions made in America by slaves and their descendants are no more apart from American History than are those made by slave masters and their children. Our contributions are woven tightly into the fabric of American History; the strands brilliant and outstanding, courageous and strong and without them, the dynamics of America would be vastly different. Our history is American history; equally, American history is mine.

Although we are often divided on issues; we sometimes deprecate one another, insult and misunderstand each other, our hand in building this America is singular. What former slaves and their children have done in and for this country contributed to the building of America–my America. Your America. We helped to build this institution.

We all strive for the same things: freedom, a right to be seen, heard, respected and treated with dignity. Our way of getting such things is often unalike and sometimes even hostile but our humanness should transcend our hostility. And it is true that racism is apparent; a social strategy to keep us oppressed. But we cannot oppress one race or group and remain a “free nation,” because of our undeniable connectedness.

 

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We all thrive on the provisions of one another, even when we refuse to acknowledge the souls that have made such provisions.

The babies my great grandmother cradled and fed, the big house she cleaned and the clothes she scrubbed were not her own. But those children grew to be strong and viable; the house was kept immaculate and the way of living for her master was made easier. We all benefit from the work of those Black teachers and tutors, doctors and researchers that rose from the trenches of their enslaved parents and grandparents. They gave us light in the way of inventions and findings and educated individuals.

Likewise the language we speak and the laws by which we abide were not created by Black Americans, yet we abide by those laws and seek to create equality through them. It has taken citizens great and small to establish a nation that has remained a bastion in the world for more than 200 years. We cannot deny each other.

American history isn’t sweet or flowery. No, in many aspects it is brutal, despicable, embarrassing and painful to remember. But it is truth and cannot be changed or altered. But it is the way in which we face such truths that uproots us from our comfortable spaces and causes the scales to fall from our eyes. It is only when we begin to look at each other and see a reflection of ourselves that we can begin a sincere dialog. It is when we acknowledge this truth that we will begin to understand what makes us think and feel and act in the manner in which we do.

To join us as we celebrate those who endured much hardship and bravely adopted this country as their own is not a separate celebration. For as you recognize our history you also celebrate your own.

To deny the contributions Blacks have made in history as American history is to broaden an already growing disparity between our races. A people who will not be heard will always be misunderstood. Celebrate with me, learn with me, discover and be in awe. My history is American.

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