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Quick to Listen

My life is surrounded by words.  My days are spent in the word of God, and there I learn truth and power.  My weeks are spent speaking this word to others, trying to take the power that has changed my life and give it away to others.  I am a writer, so I weave words and turn phrases in order to point to the secret places of the human heart.  I am a man who lives and works and plays with words.  

I am also a mean man, which is not a good combination.  My first instinct is to form words into a knife, not a tourniquet.   

And then I open the windows to see what is happening on Facebook world, and I am still surprised.  I am still surprised how we call whole groups of people we don’t know terrible names.  I am still surprised to see the followers of Jesus following the false shepherds of politics and Americana.  I am still surprised at the amount of misinformation flooding forth from people I know and love.   

My first instinct is to call out the mistakes.  I want a reaction that is as strong as the voice of the one yelling.  I want to outscream them, outmanuveur them, use words to flank their argument and destroy their armies.  That is what I want to do.  And I am still surprised at myself.  That I add to the noise. That I think I’m right about everything.  That I get sucked in to all these worthless conversations.  I am still surprised by my own pride and wrath.   

There is this teaching in the Bible that I recall from my youth.  “Be quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger.”  Facebook pulls from me the exact opposite response.  I want to be quick to speak.  I don’t want to think.  I don’t want to count the cost.   

There is this invitation to be silent.  I don’t have to give my two cents.  I don’t have to be right.  I don’t have to be the Twitter police.  I don’t have to call out every wrongheaded thing online.  There is a God in heaven, and I am not Him.  So I put down my knife.  I take the words I love so much and try to fashion them into something else.  I try to build a compass to point home.  I try to build a light to shine in the darkness.  I build a house that all are welcome in.   

There will be a time to talk.  Of that I am certain. But it will not be in the crapstorm of Facebook.  It will not be on a soapbox.  It will not be at a stranger.  It will be with another person who I can see and know.  It will be spoken with great love and affection.  And it will be spoken for God’s glory, not my own.   

I see you in the crapstorm.  Hopefully I will see you on the streets. 

A fellow sojourner, Ernesto Alaniz.