Monday, February 27, 2012

Hesitating Over Communication

I sit there, typing furiously, trying desperately to get the words out.  Pausing to look at my work, dismay hits, and the backspace button is employed once again.  With a clean sheet of paper, I migrate away from the computer, hoping to capture with paper the thoughts which the computer could not.  But it is to no avail.
Anything I wish to communicate via the written word is inadequate, imperfect, too stiff.  Some people are able to speak and write eloquently, making me laugh or cry or ponder.  But when I write, everything just seems blah, at least to me.  When I speak, it is not without much hesitation and trepidation.
Blog post drafts stay in the draft stage for weeks, months, and sometimes even years before I finally decide to either delete them or take a deep breath and hit the publish button.  Conversations play out in my mind for hours before I take a deep breath and introduce myself to someone new.  Even emails and letter collect {virtual??} dust as I try to find the courage to send them.
After I say finally something or publish a blog post or hit the send button or seal the envelope or whatever, I ask myself, why?
Why is it so hard for me to express what I want to say?  Why do I fear to open my mouth?  What makes it so difficult for me to be content with the quality of what I have communicated?
The answer lies not in that I have had a lot of criticism, or that I have been lambasted for saying something in the past, or anything like that.  Although there have been times when close friends and family gently admonish me over something unkind which I stated, I have never received any real opposition to anything I’ve ever said.
So why the hesitation?
Perfectionism is a pitfall which I all to easily stumble into.  Mortified all too easily at any blunder, any faux pas, I tend to keep everything inside instead.  After all, I can’t go wrong if I don’t say anything, right?
But instead, I hurt myself as well as those around me.  I keep silent when I ought to say something, I don’t comment even when I know that I could or should or ought to.
Almost two years ago, some girls at Presbytery were going to be singing a quick chorus at the “talent show” there.  They asked me to join, since the needed all the volume they could get.  Refusing with the excuse that I needed to help Mom with the little kids, I politely declined and heaved a deep sigh of relief.
But now I wonder if my refusal was partly based on pride, on the fear that I would mess up.  If I has asked Mom, I’m sure she would have told me to go ahead.  Instead, I let my fears get in the way.
The epistle of James speaks of the tongue being a rudder, something which steers the whole course of life.  I’ve heard many people speak of times they said the wrong thing, times they blundered terribly with what the spoke and damaged many around them.
“Look also at ships: although they are so large and are driven by fierce winds, they are turned by a very small rudder wherever the pilot desires. Even so the tongue is a little member and boasts great things.”   – James 3:4-5
So many realize quickly how easy it is the say the wrong thing at the wrong time, to speak when it is not appropriate.
But a ship’s rudder, although it can be incredibly harmful when used the wrong way, is also necessary.  So also is communicating, even when it is something hard for me to do.
Moses was not nimble in speaking.  He did not feel at all capable of confronting the Pharaoh, of taking on the tremendous task of ambassador for Israel.
And yet he did.
Sure, God sent his brother along to help him out, but Moses was not excused  from duty.
Just as Moses stood up and used his faltering mouth for God’s glory, so I ought to do the same, even when my pride hisses to me that I can’t, shouldn’t, won’t.
Perhaps I will never find speaking to be an easy task. Perhaps I will never excel at communicating.  But with God’s help, I  can reach past my pride and trepidation and speak.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

One Decade Ago Today

A decade ago today, Momma told Stephen, Lizzy, and I to go pack overnight bags, that we were going to stay with our friends for that day and possibly overnight.   We went to our bedrooms and pulled out some clothes and stuffed them into bags.
“You’re going to get a new baby brother or sister today!” Dad and Mom told us as we tromped into the car.  We celebrated and bounced up and down and were a little bit scared, all at the same time.
They dropped us off at the residence of the P__ family, then continued on to their destination.
Our young minds quickly left the topic of new baby and refocused on playing with the other kids.  We found the playmobils and guided them through an adventure.  We went outside and played on their swing set.  We played checkers on a big cracker-barrel style mat thing.  We went on a walk around the block with them and their mom.
And then that evening, while coloring pictures with the family’s only girl and Lizzy, using markers from a butterfly shaped art case, I was handed the phone.
“Hi Hannah!” came Dad’s voice “you have a new baby sister!  Her name is Esther Ruth.”