Please accept my apologies for receiving a blog full of random thoughts, misspelling, and semi-plagiarism. I feel as though I got caught without all my clothes on! How embarrassing! Life has been so hectic that I had forgotten this post was set to go live without finishing my thoughts.
Let’s try “Take 2”:
“Choosing with integrity means finding ways to speak up that honor your reality, the reality of others, and your willingness to meet in the center of that large field. It’s hard sometimes.” ~Terry Tempest Williams
I met Ben Malcolmson the other day.
Who’s Ben Malcolmson? Watch Pete Carroll (Seahawks Head coach) and you’ll find Ben nearby. Ben is Pete’s personal assistant, right-hand man, guardian, and decision making deputy. The two are inseparable during the football season.
The day that we met was in June, however, and Ben was alone. Granted, it was a short exchange, my husband introducing us because they’ve met on other occasions, but the significance of this timely meet-up was that he had just come out of a bookstore with a Christian book in his hand, while I had one of my own books in my purse. I wanted to offer my book, pull it out, ask him to accept it as a gift, and respectfully suggest that the read would be worthy of his time.
But I remained silent, while I secretly screamed inside.
I thought The Teacher should be the one to suggest his wife’s book. Wouldn’t that be more natural? Who was I to speak up? I just met the man and it would be arrogant to self-promote my own work.
But after thinking about that three minute meet-up (three thousand times), I believe I made the wrong decision to remain silent. I had an opportunity and I failed to take it. Russell Wilson coined the phrase, “Why not me?” and I should have had the same confidence.
The Teacher was too caught up in the moment to advocate for me, which brings me to the main point of today’s self-coaching question: In what way should you speak up?
I’m not asking, “Should you speak up?” I’m asking, “In what way should you speak up?”
I love the opening quote by Terry Tempest Williams because it touches on several key factors in speaking up for ourselves. I’d like to break this down into five key components:
1) Choose with integrity
I know some people that always speak up…to everyone! There is no filter. No compass for where spewed words will fall. I’m sorry, but people like this are annoying. Proverbs 21:23 is wise to warn us that we’ll be kept from trouble if we learn to hold our tongue, and James 3 doesn’t hold anything back in teaching us about the small, but deadly, weapon we carry between two lips.
We should always prayerfully consider our motive, intention, and purpose with integrity before speaking up. And, who knows, maybe it was integrity that kept me silent before Ben. Are my intentions to spread the message of my book for God’s glory, or my own? That is something I prayerfully wrestle with and consider on a daily basis.
Also, choosing to speak up should not be about entitlement. We are given the privilege to speak. Words are a gift from the Father to be used for good. We are not entitled to our voices.
2) Honor your reality
Know one else lives your life. No one else walks your journey. Your unique reality is the only reality you have, and that is where you can confidently speak. Do you feel passionate about something? Share it! Are you feeling troubled, inspired, annoyed, or joyful? You are the only one who can feel those exact emotions, in those exact situations.
Honor your reality!! Own your life and speak that life into a world who needs you. If you weren’t needed…if your voice was never meant to be heard, why did God create you?
I love this quote by Valorie Burton, “Whether you need to speak up by asking for what you want, defending something you believe in, or expressing your feelings, know that speaking up is about honoring what you know to be true for you.”
3) Honor the reality of others
This is where things start to get tricky, because our reality is not another’s reality. Just as no one has lived my life, it is super arrogant for me to believe someone else will see things exactly as I see them. The important point here is that this sentiment must go both ways! If we are going to successfully move toward one another, both parties have to remain sensitive to the reality of the other.
Let’s just be honest, we suck at this! Allow me to make an observation, however…
I think we suck while speaking up “publicly”–social media, reports, editorials, campaigns, gossip (which spreads like wildfire). Although not perfect, I believe we are better face-to-face. We show more respect, and understanding. We (hopefully) take time to listen, ask questions, and seek to understand.
Let us honor what is true for ourselves, while remembering to honor what is true for another.
4) Be willing to meet
Audre Lorde, from her book The Cancer Journals says, “My silences had not protected me. Your silence will not protect you. But for every real word spoken, for every attempt I had ever made to speak those truths for which I am still seeking, I had made contact with other women while we examined the words to fit a world in which we all believed, bridging our differences.”
I just think this quote is brilliant! It tells me that neither party is backing down, but there is mutual flexibility, a willingness to agree to disagree, and, most importantly, a bridge to connect the two. I’ve been feeling that many people have been busy knocking bridges down, instead of finding places to build them.
Yes, we’re living in a large field, but can we try to find a center where we can honor and respect each other? This should, and can be done without losing our choice to stand upon what we believe. As soon as we ask someone to only see it our way, we are not honoring the other reality. Let’s say what we need to say, but let’s refuse to be hypocrites when listening to the other opinion.
5) Accept the level of difficulty
Sure, it’s going to be hard. Remember, we suck at trying to understand the reality of another. But in the difficult spaces let’s not become slaves to silence. Please remember that each voice is important. I can’t say it any better than Vera Nazarian, who says in The Perpetual Calendar of Inspiration, “A choir is made up of many voices, including yours and mine. If one by one all go silent then all that will be left are the soloists. Don’t let a loud few determine the nature of the sound. It makes for poor harmony and diminishes the song.
I Russell can say, “Why not me?”, then I say, “Why not you?”
Have you been silent too long? In what way do you need to speak up?
Additional thought: Maybe I’ll get another chance to meet Ben, but in the mean time, I’m delighted to highlight him beyond Pete Carroll’s assistant. He has compiled a very helpful, downloadable, one page sheet that reminds us of our identity in Jesus Christ. This is such a helpful resource for people of all ages, because we need to be reminded, over and over again. Thank you, Ben.
Photo Credit: Flickr (Creative Commons)
Kim’s signature closing:
Welcome new readers, and those well loved! My blogs are focused on authentic Christianity and real life decisions. History proves that my readers interact most comfortably through an email exchange, rather than a public comment. You are always welcome to find me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I welcome your questions or comments and will do my best to respond in a timely manner.
My deepest desire is for you to know Jesus real. He is not just a positive thought, a model to follow, or a comfortable space to hear love. He is life. Adventure. He can be the very air you breathe with just one decision. I never knew Him until I ended up sitting on a dirty field in India. He met me there, and that gripping tale of redemption is found in my life’s work: The Chance to Choose: Become Who You Were Meant to Be One Choice At a Time. I’d love all my reader’s to know the story. It is there where you’ll understand me, and the One I serve, best. Click on printed/signed copy, or Kindle version (also available on Nook and Apple iBook) to purchase, and if you need more, check out the book trailer below: