The Swing of the Pendulum
“Silence” wasn’t always an issue. I was probably more on the sassy side, maybe even a little feisty……
Let’s be honest- as a redheaded “independent” woman, I wasn’t afraid to speak my mind. 🤦♀️ But thankfully, I began to mature in my twenties and I mellowed, learning the value of silence.
It wasn’t long though before I found myself on the other end of the spectrum- silent to a fault.
When silence becomes a hindrance
I have seen two areas of my life where my silence can undermine the overall goal for good.
In faith, especially as a woman, I have felt intimidated about speaking up for what I knew was right Biblically. As I have served in church ministry for 24 years, as well in the community of faith outside the church walls, there have been moments when I felt the pressure to just keep quiet. Whether that pressure was from others or from within myself in order to minimize “risk”, it was a challenge nonetheless.
There is such a tricky balance for seeking to walk in humility yet be bold and courageous in faith. As disciples of Christ, our aim is that of our Savior in His example to us, who was and is full of grace and truth. We see from Scripture that there were times He spoke up boldly and yet times when He chose the option of silence.
He chose perfectly.
Sometimes we do not …….. and sin usually abounds in these moments.
We speak when we should keep quiet and we are quiet when we should speak up. Oh, the wisdom to know the difference and the grace to follow that guidance!Jesus knew when to speak up and when to keep silent. Oh, for the wisdom and grace to do the same! Click To Tweet
The Pressure of Silence in Faith
We are not the first disciples to feel the pressure to keep quiet about what we know as true/right in the eyes of God and man. There is a scene in Mark 8:14-15,
The disciples had forgotten to bring bread, except for one loaf they had with them in the boat. “Be careful,” Jesus warned them. “Watch out for the yeast of the Pharisees and that of Herod.”
Although the disciples were too focused on the temporal, physical detail of food to see the spiritual lesson Jesus was trying to warn them about, we have the benefit of hindsight to understand it. The question we have to ask ourselves is what do the Pharisees and Herod have in common? What were they both wanting of the Jesus and His disciples?
Whether it was from within the church walls of leadership or the secular halls of government, Jesus and His followers were rocking the boat big time with their “opinions”. These two establishments wanted “the Way” to keep quiet! The Truth contrary to their plans created conflict that they just as soon live without.
It was only two chapters previously in Mark 6 where we read how John the Baptist was imprisoned and eventually beheaded for speaking up against what was wrong in the sight of God and man. And several times throughout Mark already the Pharisees were condemning Jesus’ actions AND what He was preaching.
Both parties wanted silence rather than what conflicted with their agendas.
Just as yeast works its way through the dough, the subtle/blatant pressure to keep quiet at the expense of life and limb was going to be felt. Jesus was trying to teach His disciples that they were going to feel intimidation to keep quiet and they needed to be on guard about it.
And why is that?
Because silence, when they should speak up about the truth, would be wrong……….
The pressure to cave to the opinions of religious institutions or politically correct agendas contrary to the Truth given by God was just as wrong back then as it is today.
Jesus expected His followers to stand for the eternal truth given by God, regardless of public opinion. Whether it is a denomination or a church led by self-serving leadership like the Pharisees, seeking to alter what God has said, or the opinion of public officials and their shameful behavior, caving into silence at the expense of speaking up for truth undermines our faith and God’s agenda for His kingdom.
Whether we like it or not, agree with it or not, God said what He meant and meant what He said. Period.
The Pressure of Silence in Marriage
After the first 5-8 years of my marriage when I was way too mouthy, I began to tone it down thankfully. My poor husband was so patient with my ways back then! I’m so grateful for the grace he showed me as I learned the error of my ways. Praise God for the sanctification that marriage and children afford!
My resulting tendency soon became too temperate though. I feel into the southern behavioral mindset of “just be nice” in the face of relational conflict. I mistakenly believed that the Christian response as a wife was to be nice no matter what. It took me several years before I began to learn the difference between submission/meekness and being a “doormat”.
The challenge was learning what true Biblical love acts like. Agapeo love means a commitment to the best interest of another. It isn’t so much an emotion as much as it is an action toward what is good for the other person. It may or may not meet their expectation but it is always filtered through what is best for them.
I thought my silence in the face of Kyle’s feistiness was love, but it wasn’t. By not drawing boundaries over what is right and acceptable, I was not loving him in his best interest. As I chose silence instead of speaking up for what was right, I offered my husband no accountability.
Where there is no accountability in marriage, trouble will be sure to come.A marriage without accountability is a marriage headed for trouble. Click To Tweet
Unacceptable behavior will only get worse when we choose to be silent, giving unspoken approval of what is tearing away at the fabric of intimacy and trust in marriage.
My husband needed my accountability and I needed his! That is how we show respect and consideration for one another. Letting conflict go unresolved and behavior go unchecked jeopardized our marriage.
Left to myself, I become skewed in my views and opinions. Kyle offers me balance as I consider his feedback. If I choose to ignore them, I know he has every right to call one of our good friends from our fellowship community to help us navigate our way through conflict. So I am at risk from Kyle’s silence as much as he is with mine.
The risk to my faith and marriage has shown me how important it is to speak up when the situation warrants and to keep silent when it doesn’t. God has shown me such grace and mercy as I have failed in both areas but as I seek to learn from each encounter, hopefully, I am becoming more Christlike along the way.