I hear voices in my head. There. I admitted it. But it’s not what you think.
The voices are the over-saturation of messages that I’m privileged to receive in a day. The voices are the “experts” telling me that organics are the only way or that I have to give up sugar to be healthy. They advise that I should make my own sunscreen…and laundry detergent and maybe even dig for petroleum in my backyard so I can fuel my minivan independent of the oil giants. And while I’m at it, they suggest that I make a nifty Mason jar craft and homeschool my kids.
Are you sensing that I’m a little overloaded? A little done? A little overly facebooked, news-fed and pinterested?
I caught myself actually apologizing for having an opinion today and I realized that it’s not the opinion that I’m sorry for, it’s the worry that a friend would take offense that what I have to say is contrary to the messages that she’s hearing. It’s the fear that I’ll be causing the same noise in her life that all the voices are causing in mine. It’s the anxiety that the noise of all the advice, all the opinions, will detract from genuine helpfulness.
And most us just want to help, don’t we? I want to help my family be healthy, so I read blogs and ask for advice. I want to help my friends with their dilemmas, so I offer that same advice I’ve gotten and advise them. No wonder we’re all tired. We’re striving all the time. We’re so busy that we crave interaction and we plug in…to everything. We are curious by design, so we listen to everything.
We’re so blessed to live in an age in which we have all of this information – we can learn, we can communicate over distance and we can entertain ourselves. But I can’t help but think that maybe it’s all just so much and that sets us on edge. We preface friendly conversations with “I don’t want to debate this but…” and “Please don’t take offense…” and “This is JUST my opinion…”
Then it came to me – grace. That’s what we’re lacking. In essence, we’re forgetting that (because we’re friends or family or just friendLY) that the information that we’re sharing was given and should be received gracefully. Because, more often than not, the comment was given from a place of helpfulness and should be received kindly. But, when I’m feeling like I’m not measuring up to the standard I’m reading or hearing about, I take those helpful comments on the defense, without grace. I justify my position instead of being appreciative for the input or at least of the person’s care for me to share. Or maybe I’m starting out a conversation worrying that my comment won’t be received as innocently helpful as I had intended, so I preface and posture to be non-offensive. It’s exhausting.
So, I took a few minutes today to just sit and be. It was wonderful. Then that wonderful-ness turned to prayer, as silence often does with me, and I asked God to help me give and receive more grace. I don’t want the noise to overload me and make me defensive and insecure. I don’t want to add to other’s overload just because I want to be heard or needed.
I want to be the kind of person that adds to a person’s peace, not overload….a person who is helpful, but not too opinionated. I want people to see less Kristen and more Jesus. And the way that I can tell if that’s the case is if I am, if they are, seeing more of the fruits of the Spirit in my life.
Qualities like –
- joyfulness – being an encourager, a person who builds others up without criticizing
- patience – listening without waiting for a chance to offer advice and being willing to let frustrations pass without the need to be right
- kindness – offering grace, not getting defensive and ugly
- love – being a person who decides not to keep a record of wrongs
- peaceful – being a girl who isn’t looking for a fight
- patience – being tolerant and willing to let it pass, the kind of person who chooses not to do or say something even when when I could do or say it
- goodness – not just being a “nice” person or a moral person, but someone who puts the good of others above myself
- faithfulness – being loyal and resolutely sticking with a person (and my beliefs) without waver
- gentleness – being a gentle person, one who is considerate in disposition, mild in mood, soft, tender; well-managed, not sudden or rash or angry, the kind of friend who is careful not to cause harm in others
- and that pretty much segues into self-control – being a girl who can manage her emotions, her reactions, so she can be a person with all of the above qualities.
That’s a tall order, but it sure cuts down on the feelings of being overwhelmed because I know that I can’t be any of those things without God so loving me that He sent His son to take the ugliness, the sin that causes me to be just the opposite of those things. Since my life is already His to use, I just have to remember to step aside and consider my motives – am I being fruitful or selfish? If my action is motivated by God in me, then I’m not being noisy, I’m being fruity.