For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven…
A time to keep silence, and a time to speak
As a young girl I was shy and deeply introverted. This resulted in a rock wall of silence that took me years to chip away. In my high school classrooms I never spoke. I answered every question in my head. I came up with witty responses to the silly banter of adolescence, but never actually delivered them. My teachers begged me to participate, but the words just wouldn’t come out. Looking back at my high school yearbook, almost every note from teachers and acquaintances remarked on how quiet I was. Only to my friends did I open up and reveal my inner life. I felt safe with them. I could trust them with my truth.
This reticence lessened in college and more so in graduate school, but only by a little. My graduate advisor understood. She knew I wasn’t just sitting there, disengaged with all that was happening in class. In fact I was quite busy. I was learning, discovering, uncovering, soaking in, turning over, deciding, proving, agreeing, dissenting. All this was happening within the safe walls of my own mind. I knew that more was expected of me, but the words just wouldn’t come out. Almost like a crowd of people trying to get out of an elevator all at once. They were wedged in. Stuck. If you’re an introvert like me, this feeling is probably all too familiar.
One day in a private meeting in her office, my advisor said to me: “Sometimes, the person who says nothing can be the most active participant in the class. Dynamic listening is a gift. But someday you’re going to have to share what’s going on in there.”
It took a degree of bravery that I did not find until I was almost forty years old. Like the Sara Bareilles song:
Say what you wanna say
And let the words fall out
Honestly—I wanna see you be brave
When I started giving retreats, started speaking out about God’s love, I had finally found my voice. It was only through prayer and the gentle gift of God’s guidance that I felt brave enough to put my thoughts on paper and speak them aloud. Just like that beautiful line from Ecclesiastes, I had come into my season to speak.
Towards what season is God guiding YOU?
Do you have a gift or talent that you’re keeping hidden or silent? Can you hear God whispering to you, asking you to share that gift? It requires a degree of bravery, but remember…God gives us all the strength and courage we need. “No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house.” (Matthew 5:15)
At my first retreat presentation, I stood in front of a crowd of 60 women, wide-eyed and expectant. I wasn’t afraid. It didn’t occur to me that my ninth-grade self would have shriveled and hid at such a scene.
I got up…and the words fell out.