Once we’ve heard the power of our authentic voices, it is impossible to go back to being silent.
There are consequences to finding our voices, and we must be willing to accept them. It is not comfortable to be the person who addresses the elephant in the room or shared space, but it is necessary. Likewise, it is not comfortable to be in the room as a bystander when the elephant is addressed.
Unfortunately, most people are not tuned in to their authentic voices and are unable to voice their support or displeasure when we speak truth to power. They have vocal paralysis and will distance themselves until they are back in a place of comfort.
This used to make me angry. I wondered why no one else would speak up about statements or situations so egregious that we have to choose a side. The silence bothered me more than disagreeing with my vantage point. I saw silence as spineless, an attempt to ignore a gaping wound. Their silence was a vote for complacency and normalcy at the cost of peace.
I don’t get angry anymore, but it does make me incredibly sad. The silence of others in important moments reminds me of my own journey with fear and complacency, the many times I allowed the violation of my standards and boundaries in the name of — but the detriment to — keeping the peace.
Peace is expensive. It can cost us friends and family. It can cost us jobs and what we’ve grown to consider security. But God commands us to speak in truth and love, not to lull ourselves into false versions of both by being quiet.
There is peace in knowing we’ve stood up for ourselves and our values. There is peace in creating firm boundaries and upholding them when situations arise that would require compromising them. There is peace and good rest in knowing that we have stood up for God’s creation — our souls and our lives.
There is also peace in knowing that because our voices are so powerful, they are not to be used lightly. There’s power in knowing that inserting ourselves unnecessarily in every conversation, social media outrage and comment thread actually dilutes our voices. There is peace and power with creating a strategy to use these gifts.
Using our voices as strategic weapons in our arsenals takes our power to the next level. Being thoughtful on when and how to address an issue is just as important as knowing we need to address it. When we realize the power our voices actually wield, we find it difficult to insert ourselves and our opinions in conversations that are not meaningful or productive.
One of the most powerful results of the death and resurrection of Jesus is that it produced disciples who used their voices strategically to spread the gospel. Jesus proclaimed that they (and we) would do greater works, and they took that proclamation from one small North African region and spread the good news throughout the world.
They wrote. They preached. They spoke. They used their voices. And once they realized their power, they were no longer silent. May we learn from them and speak boldly.
LaMonique Hamilton is a Wilson resident and former Times reporter and copy editor. She is the national deputy director of communications for Repairers of the Breach and the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival and blogs about arts and culture at iamlamonique.com.
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