Whether or not anyone has noticed, my corner of the blogosphere has been eerily silent for almost two years. Sometimes, of course, we are silent for a reason. Other times, we have much we wish to say but don’t find the time or the words to say it. Still other times, like the one I’ve been going through, we don’t intend the silence at all and are as surprised as anyone when we discover its hold.
At some point over the past two years, I realized why I wasn’t writing here. It wasn’t that I was afraid of how my words would be received by others; no, I finally woke up to the fact that I was scared of how my words would sound to me.
I don’t mean to suggest that I was afraid of all the things that typically frighten writers who care about how their words sound. I’ve always had those fears and suspect I always will. No, this was a new fear, a fear that gnawed at everything holding the world together for me, and I simply didn’t trust myself to write what I was actually feeling and thinking. I feared doing so would commit me to thoughts that were difficult to own.
You see, it’s been a trying two years. Some days, my anger at somebody’s actions or words shook me. Other days, grief burrowed into the depths of my heart, causing an ache that lingers still. And then there were those days when things conspired in such a way to make me question everything about who I am or what I value.
I suspect you know what I’m talking about. You’ve been there, I’m sure.
Along the way, I stopped trusting my words. Slowly, though, I came to understand what someone meant when they wrote this: “When we engage in the making of sounds we put ourselves at the mercy of others, we become vulnerable in different ways.” It meant coming to grips with the fact that our words–no matter how trivially we may use or abuse them–always reveal deeper theological questions about who we are, what frightens us, and where we place our trust.
By this simple post, I have broken the silence which has held this space for too long. For now, that is enough.
John has been the pastor of Massanutten Presbyterian Church in Penn Laird, VA since November, 2003. He finds great joy in being a husband, father, and pastor.