confessions of a conflict-avoider

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I once lied to my husband and kids about who drank the last cup of coffee. As soon as the words came out of my mouth I thought, “Sheila, you just lied to avoid conflict about coffee.” I realized how rediculous it was, lying about coffee.

“Eh-hum, I’m sorry guys.” The boys were getting ready for school, my husband making himself some scrambled eggs. They all looked up at me.

“Sorry for what mom?” my 9 year old asked.

“I lied.”

Six wide eyes were looking right at me.

“You lied?! About what?” My husband asked in a suspicious tone.

“I lied about the coffee. I drank the last cup of coffee.”

“Why would you do that?” my husband was perplexed. He’s the in-your-face type. He thrives on conflict.

“I don’t know, I guess I just didn’t want to deal with you getting upset about the coffee.”

“Upset? Why would I be upset. I’d just make another cup.”

“I know it’s rediculous. I’m sorry.”

I turned my eyes to my sons who were watching this vingette in the kitchen play out like a suspensful sci-fi movie.

My tendency to do whatever it takes to avoid conflict and the work of Christ in my life to change that inclination in me is, for me, one of the greatest evidences that Jesus Christ is real. My conflict-avoiding bent, combined with being a female raised in an ultra-conservative church, has been almost a perfect storm in which I’ve nearly shipwrecked my faith.

When you’re personality lends toward being the peacemaker, being the mediator, doing whatever you can to make sure everyone’s happy and there’s no tension, and you’re taught that God wants you to be submissive and quiet because you’re a woman, you can easily be duped into thinking you’re being godly when you’re really drowning in a sea of sinful brokenness.

There is no linear, superficial, canned, boxed, flat way with Christ. He is the word made flesh.  I can type these words on a screen, and they may be true, but without a tangible embodiment, they can be employed in a way I never intended in writing them. What God’s word says about submission, being quiet, womanhood and peacemaking is true in the way Jesus lived it on, not in the way we misconstrue words on a page. Embodied word is complex and looks different in different situations.

I believe the humility of Christ, that submits himself to others, although he is free, is a characteristic of all Christians, not just women.  And I believe there is wisdom in being quiet- for both men and women.  But there’s a time to be quiet, and there’s a time to speak.  There’s a time to submit and there’s a time to resist.  There’s a time to make peace and there’s a time to turn some tables.

Even Jesus said both that he came to give us peace and that he came not to bring peace but a sword.  So which is it Jesus?  It’s both.  He came to bring peace, not as the world gives, not by trying to make everyone happy, but by his faithful and soveriegn goodness.  And he came to bring a sword, not to kill people but to do surgery on men’s hearts, harvest a field and cut down lies.

When you’re a conflict-avoider like me by nature and Jesus comes in, he turns over all kinds of rugs and shades and dividers and lies we use to bring a fragile sense of “peace.” But it’s no real peace. Since Christ came crashing into my life at 16 he’s been taking me out of my padded passivity into courageous action.  Even in the smallest things like confessing lying about coffee.

I’m amazed as I look at my life and see what he is doing.  I would be a cowardly, lying, self-preserving, brown-noser, surrounding myself with people who made me comfortable or hiding in a convent if it weren’t for Jesus.  He makes me brave.  Where I have thought I was being submissive, he’s shown me I’m just being passive.  Where I thought I was being quiet for the sake of peace, he showed me I was enabling sin by not speaking the truth and shining a light.

I still hate conflict, but I find Christ in me compels me to go towards what I would usually shy away from.  And that is evidence that his life is really at work in me.  Which is a real life miracle!

I am woman

pexels-photo-619949.jpegA lot of bad things happen to women because men abuse their power.  And a lot of women use their power to do bad things. And in both cases we have believed a lie about who we are. Lying to women about who they are has been a tactic of evil since the beginning (Genesis 3). This world is harsh and deceiving. And being a woman without Christ is like being a person with amnesia, never knowing who you really are. But in Christ, being a woman is wonder!

Not that the church has always gotten right the value and dignity and worth of women.  And not the the rest of the world or it’s various cultures have gotten it right either.  But the God of the Bible designed womanhood.  And he made it very good.  He also cursed it and made it very hard.  But he redeemed it and so it is a confident joy to be a woman in Christ.

The true church is a bunch of ragamuffin people from all different demographics throughout time.  And among these shabby sheep there have been, and still are wolves, making themselves out to be one of us.  And they have set out to tarnish the name of Christ.  One way they have done that is by treating women wrong and not honoring them as equal bearers of the image of the Living God.  But the God of the Bible has never gotten it wrong.  He has clearly given us his word that we are his image bearers and are called, albeit through much suffering, to share in his grace-filled eternal life.  He has a special eye of love and fervor for women and children when they are abandoned and mistreated by men. Christ has also never gotten it wrong. He has demonstrated what servant-leadership and self-sacrificial love looks like.

Christ has redeemed our broken womanhood.  He has given us a new identity worth more than anything this world offers.  We don’t have to prove our strength by our buff arms, or ability to do jobs our culture has historically said are for men only.  We don’t have to prove our power by manipulating others with sex, or taking positions the world calls enviable.  There is no glass ceiling for Christian women.  We stand strong, thankful, powerful and loved because we are women, made in the image of God, redeemed by Christ who saw us when we sold ourselves for what power, pleasure and possessions we could have now.  As a Christian woman, all my worth and identity is wrapped up in Christ.  I am Christ’s and he is mine and there’s nothing and no one that can take that away from me.

Being Christ’s enables me to stand for the truth even the powers that be try to quiet me. Being Christ’s makes me able to take the position of servant and not feel threatened.  As Jesus laid down his life willingly, I can lay down mine.  I know who I am.  I know whose I am.  I know where I’ve come from.  And I know where I’m going.  I can love those who betray me.  Like seriously… love them!  Want their good.  I don’t need the world’s idea of power.  I don’t need a “man’s” job.  I am a woman.

Within me there’s a cry that Elizabeth Elliot titled one of her books, “Let me be a woman!”  But that’s only because I feel the pressure from all sides to be more like a man.  Even from the people who say their fighting for women’s rights.   Without Christ, I do want to be more like a man.  I want power.  I don’t want to have to suffer so much in my body to give another person life.  But because of Christ I have everything!  My identity is rock-solid.  I know who I am. So I can be a woman.


eyes on the Author- the every morning struggle to walk by faith

I don’t wake up full of vision and motivation.  Actually, what motivates me most is the idea that my french press and single-origin coffee from Guatemala are just minutes away from awaking my senses with it’s warm, toasty aroma.  And on those days when I get my stiff, puffy-eyed body out of bed and make my way to the cabinet to prep the press with my favorite coffee and find we’re out, I feel great motivation to get dressed and drive to the local store so I can hurry up and get back home before too much time has passed and get my coffee going.

Basically, coffee motivates me to get up in the morning.

Mixed in the grogginess between eyes open and that first cup of coffee I remember who I am.

I am not my own.  I am a Christian.  The weight of meaning in that word falls on me like gravity on the fledgling attempts of a young eagle to fly every morning.

I feel myself falling.  Falling. Squawking out a cry, “Help!  Help Lord!  I am yours. Let me hear your loving kindness in the morning lest I be like those who go down to the pit!”  Sometimes sooner, sometimes later, but never failing, my faithful Helper and Friend, my God, my Father, the one who made me a Christian and bought me out of slavery to the law of sin and death, he swoops down and lifts me up on his everlasting wings.

He’s teaching me to fly.  To soar on wings like eagles.  To walk and not grow weary.  To run the race set before me as a woman finding her identity in Christ, as wife to James in a difficult marriage, as a mother raising men, in a community and time full of the “treasures of Egypt“.  And when he finally lifts me up I see the wonder of who He is and what He’s done and what He’s doing in me, I can face the day.

I don’t always get a chance to reflect on the truth of what God has done in calling me his own daughter like today.  Usually the day marches on and I struggle to fix my eyes on the One who wrote this story. He’s the author of my faith, and since he is, he’s also the one who will finish the story he started in me.  He’s not an inconsistent blogger or an aspiring writer.  He’s the author of life, and the writer of faith, and the one who began this good work in me.  And he will be faithful to complete it.

Every morning the struggle is real.  And that’s no cliche.  I need to get my eyes on Jesus every morning and remember who I am, and the promise that He who began this good work in me will be faithful to complete it.  I need to remember that God gave me life in Christ and I am destined to be with him forever.  I need to remember because I’m called to die daily.  I’m called to follow Jesus in taking up my cross daily.  I’m not here for my best life now.  My life is not all about me and getting all the pleasure and comfort and ease I can squeeze out of the day and people in my world.  I’m a Christian, my best life is already and not yet.  I taste it here in every little resurrection, when I deny bitterness and embrace forgivenesss, when I deny ease and choose serving, when I feel the sorrow and the pain of my own sin and others’ sins and rejoice in the promise that the One I love, who I have never seen, He will make all things new.

If I could just get my eyes on the Author today I’ll be OK.

“…let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith,” – Hebrews 12:1-2

Real Women

I’ve had something on my mind: Real Women.

Look around you sometime at the grocery store, or gas station, at work or at the gym.  Look at the real women around you.  How many of them look like the women on cover of magazines, in commercials or at elite fitness competitions?  I propose almost none.  There was one woman today who I saw at the gym who legitimately looked like a elite fitness/pin-up model.  Maybe she was one.

Our sex-crazed culture is so perverted in it’s message about what a woman should look like.  Most of us real women spend way too much time, money, thought and energy into trying to achieve some semblance of that air-brushed, artificially-preserved image.  To clarify, my point here isn’t let yourself go, throw healthy diet and exercise out with the dirty bathwater of trying to look like the perky-disproportionately-large busted, thin-waisted, flawless-skinned, whitened teeth, stylish, muscle-up repping, 7% body fat, tanned-skin woman we are being told everywhere is what a beautiful woman should look like.  The thing I want to say here is real women everywhere who care about a healthy diet and who exercise their bodies to keep them healthy are all shapes and sizes and have varicose veins, hemorrhoids, postpartum depression, premenstrual syndrome, endometriosis, migraine headaches, fatigue, acne, heavy periods, irregular periods, infertility, eczema, psoriasis, wrinkles, freckles, moles, birth marks, scars, cow-licks, curly hair, straight hair, thinning hair, no hair, brown eyes, blue eyes, blind eyes, glaucoma damaged eyes, are near-sighted, far-sighted, lactose intolerant, have Crohn’s disease, osteoarthritis, cancer, hypothyroidism, hyperthyroidism, auto-immune diseases, amputations, skin-grafts, transplants, hearing loss, joint-damage, injuries… I could go on and on.  My point is, none of those things that real, beautiful women live with every day show up on that cover of Fitness Today, or in the friggin’ Carl’s Jr. commercial with the seductive woman nearly orgasmic over a hamburger for goodness sake!

I have the privilege of talking to lots of women.  Most of them in the hospital for some malady that has plagued their lives or some injury or trauma that has drastically changed it forever.  Their ages range from teens to 100’s.  Some of them are strikingly beautiful-  if you saw them all cleaned up and made up and in their best clothes and their best health in the best light you’d be like, “Whoa!  She’s beautiful!”  Most of them though wouldn’t probably catch your attention on the physical beauty radar, but that’s just the thing.  That’s MOST of the women in the world.  There are stunningly beautiful women, no doubt.  But most of us are in the girl-next-door beauty category.  We might have beautiful eyes, but our jaw line is receding, or our nose is crooked, or we have an acne problem or we’re pear-shaped… and supposedly those things make us not very beautiful anymore according to the media message we are barraged by.  And I just want to say bologna!!  BOLOGNA!  Real women are really beautiful for many reasons including, but not limited to their bust, waste and hip measurements.

I feel so passionate about this right now, I want to start a hashtag campaign for #RealWomen to take pictures of their real selves and post them on social media.  (I just looked up the hashtag RealWoman… don’t do it.  It’s already being used and perverted… So much for the hashtag campaign idea.  I guess I’ll just post an obscure blog.)  I wish we could flood the media with what real women look like and see how beautiful we are with our various struggles and body types.  This passion rises in me as a 42 year old, six-foot tall, blonde, fair-skinned, fairly thin woman who has been told most of her life by various people, “You should be a model!”  All my life I have really dreaded hearing that from people.  I mean I know they’re being nice and all, but being a model isn’t the pinnacle of feminine beauty and it’s certainly not what I want to do with my life.  Unless, I could be a model and show the extra roll of padding that has formed around my waist-line in the last 10 years, and the varicose veins that have disfigured my legs, and the painful-bloated abdomen that bothers me about 2 weeks out of every month simply because of ovulation and menstruation.  If I could show the world what I really look like no modeling agency would have me, because, well, I’m a real woman.  I have a real body with real fat and muscle and bone that don’t conform to the cover of Vogue.

So I’ll never be a runway model, and I never want to be, but I do model for my husband and sons and co-workers and nieces and nephews and kids at church and in my neighborhood what a real woman looks like and what makes her beautiful.   So what does make a woman beautiful?

The design of the feminine physique is un-mistakeably a thing of beauty.  No doubt, God made a woman as a display of beauty unchallenged by the rest of his creation.  In fact, the physical beauty of a woman is the reason the perversion, molestation and objectifying de-humanization of it is such a thriving industry both in the sex-selling advertisements used on everything from cars to hamburgers, and in the get yourself air-brushed, lifted, tucked, waxed, tattooed, slimmed, dieted, toned and trimmed messages we hear on advertisements everywhere.  We are being told constantly that the female body is beautiful if it makes a man want to engage in sexual acts with it, and if it is physically fit enough to compete in a modeling or fitness competition.  But the truth is, the female body’s beauty isn’t just like an exotic flower that’s stunning and visually alluring for a time, and then, eventually wilts and fades.  It does wilt and wrinkle, fade and age-spot.  But the physical allure of a woman’s body is also like fine wine and a timeless piece of architecture- it’s beauty develops depth and variety and character over time and gravity and arthritis.   It really does.  The secret to the beauty of a woman that endures time and brokenness is not found at Ulta or the gym.  It’s not confirmed in a man’s arousal or an elite-fitness award.  This is where the God part of my soapbox on #RealWomen comes in.

I can’t avoid it.  This is the thing about thinking through a line of reasoning.  If I leave God out of it, I could say a real woman’s beauty comes from good character and trying to stay healthy.  No God needed.  But the motives behind the woman’s good character and trying to stay healthy are the real light shining out of the lamp of that woman’s life and if the motives are self-actualization and self-fulfillment as defined by other women and men in the world, then the light is a deceptive allure to a dead end.  But if the motives behind the woman’s good character and work towards good health is the imaging of God’s beauty and worth then she shines a light so bright it breaks through the thickest fog of depression, cancer and loss a real woman lives with, giving her the hope of also becoming a stunningly beautiful woman.  The light that shines from the life of a woman who’s hope is in God, not in men or women or society, drives out the darkness that comes with sagging skin and hearing loss and clears the path for women with silhouettes and shapes of all kinds to walk the way of #RealWomen beauty.

God in Christ is the standard of #RealWoman beauty.  He’s the creator of it and it’s to him I look for what real beauty is, not magazines or what the world around me says.  He says real woman beauty is a gentle and quiet spirit.  He says real woman beauty is fearing no one but God alone.  He says real woman beauty looks fear in the face and laughs, cause nothing can drive out the unapproachable light of God’s truth and his good plans.  He says the really beautiful woman knows she’s a child of God, and like Christ, lays down her life- submitting to others willingly, and standing firm in the truth unwaveringly.  

I want to look to him for what beauty is and spend my time and energy striving after those things with the strength he supplies.  The physical maintenance of my body and the painting of the house must be done.  But they are not the methods I want to use to achieve beauty.  They are outward, temporary maintenance not inward lasting beauty.

Are you a real woman?  How do you define feminine beauty?


Tuesday Thoughts

It rained mud last night.

It’s 9pm and I just stopped cooking. This crazy Music Man of mine is charging me to dive into entrepreneurship, but I have NO idea what I’m doing.

He’s convinced I’m just a few short steps away from success with my homemade paleo mayo and the other paleo creations I’ve come up with.

Thursday he meets with a gym owner to see if we can do a test run and survey with his gym’s clients.  We’re going the direction of catered paleo meals.

I’m scared to death and excited as a kid in a toy store.

There’s a helicopter hovering over our house right now.  My man says he thinks they’re scanning the desert across the street from us for someone who’s hiding.  “Does this mean someone could come running into our yard?”  I asked,  “Could,”  he answers non-chalantly with the front and back doors wide open.  I shut and lock the front, he walks out back with his binocs to see what he can spy.  Polar opposites.

I listened to a wonderful teaching on what it means to be a complementarian today.  I had no idea I was a complementarian.  But I am.  To me it is a beautiful, Christ magnifying thing, that we are made in the image of God as male and female.  Not unisex or asexual.  Male.  Female.  Each with a race set before us to live out by faith in Christ.  Each with a calling from God to conform us to the image of His son through our maleness or femaleness.  Servant Leader and Strong Helper.  Both terms God uses to describe himself.

So the primary responsibility for initiative and leadership in the home is to come from the husband who is taking his cues from Christ, the head. And it is clear that this is not about rights and power, but about responsibility and sacrifice. Verse 25: “As Christ loved the church and gave himself for her.”  No abuse. No bossiness. No authoritarianism. No arrogance. Here is a man whose pride has been broken by his own need for a Savior, and he is willing to bear the burden of leadership given to him by his Master, no matter how heavy the load. Godly women see this and are glad. This leadership in the home involves the sense of primary responsibility for nourishing provision and tender protection. Verse 29: “For no one ever hated his own flesh (that is, his wife), but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church.” The word, “nourishes” implies nourishing provision. And the word “cherishes” implies tender protection. This is what Christ does for his bride. This is what the godly husband feels the primary responsibility to do for his wife and family.So a complementarian concludes that biblical headship for the husband is the divine calling to take primary responsibility for Christlike servant-leadership, protection and provision in the home. And biblical submission for the wife is the divine calling to honor and affirm her husband’s leadership and help carry it through according to her gifts. “A helper suitable for him,” as Genesis 2:18 says. -John Piper

So what does a godly woman do who doesn’t see that her husband’s, “…pride has been broken by his own need for a Savior…”?  She looks to her Designer, and Servant-King Lord and bends her knee to his Soveriegnty and, “… entrusts {herself} to Him who judges justly.(1 Peter 2:23 with my personalization) 

Oh Lord, make me that woman!


Learning in silence- A lesson from my haste

For whatever reason, it seems Christmastime (especially last year and this year) is a time when the Spirit really admonishes me- in every sense of the word.

I’ve been looking back, not in a longing way, not in a holding on to the past way, but as though I were an athlete looking at a previous game to learn from my mistakes that I might train myself to not perform them again.

I believe this is a godly sorrow that God is working in me. It’s not fun! It’s not condemning either though. It’s learning to despise my ways and love the Lords. And it’s clinging even more to His mercy and grace.

When I was a teenager I played basketball at my school. I wasn’t very much of a hustler. I was timid and scared of fouling anyone and therefore didn’t make much of an impact on the game for my team, other than rebounding. But in one game, the ball landed in my hands while my team was on offense. I was standing right under our hoop, but I was so excited about my destiny with the ball, convincing myself quickly that I could do this, that I made a terribly embarrassing error. I started dribbling down the court… THE WRONG WAY!!!! I heard all the screams and cheers and thought everyone was cheering for me, and then I made the shot. At that point, as I stood alone with a smile on my face under the opposing team’s basket I began looking around for my teammates to give them high fives. I suddenly realized what I had done when I saw my team hanging their shaking heads, my coach yelling my last name, and the opposing team cheering. I was mortified!!!! Utterly! I loathed myself and wanted to give up basketball forever. (That is a totally true story and one of the most embarrassing moments of my life by the way.)

This is sort of how I’ve felt this past week as the Spirit has “played the video” for me of previous “games” in my life where I’ve made grievous errors in judgement. I’m so glad God is more merciful than my 7th grade basketball coach. But I’m sad, because my sinful ways in life have caused a lot more damage than 2 points in the opposing teams basket.
I wanted to share with you (whoever you are out there in blogland) a sorrow I have from my past choices that has lead to a true turn around (repentance) in my life. I pray you will learn from my experience and not make the same error in your own “game”.

  • I sorrow that I did not learn in silence.

Women should listen and learn quietly and submissively.” 1
Timothy 2:11 NLT

The tendency, when I first hear that verse is to feel defensive and try to explain it away. But after having chosen to not learn in silence, being quick to start “teaching” others what I was so convinced I understood, I realize how shameful my choice was and how wise and right God’s word is.

When I first reunited with my husband I was so excited! For many reasons. One being I was convinced I was going to start some version of a Billy Graham crusade where women would see how much Christ loved and valued them and suddenly WANT to love their husbands in Christ-like, humble love. I had the basketball and I started running with it! Problem is, I was running the wrong way! I ended up sharing online, and with a neighbor friend, and even with a small group at church, what I was convinced was a sure “two-pointer” for our team, but it turned out to be a score for the opposing team.

It wasn’t that what I wanted was wrong. I wanted to score for “my team” (women in the body of Christ). I wanted to encourage other women with the same encouragement I’d received from the Lord. I wanted them to know what God was teaching me, but my running to the wrong hoop lied in the fact that I was still learning. And because I was still the “younger woman”, learning how to apply this revelation of Christ’s love for me in my own life, when I went around “teaching” others I delivered a mixed up message… I didn’t rightly divide the word of truth.

The result was even more humiliating and more damaging than scoring for the wrong team. I’ve had to go back and confess that I was wrong to the women I’ve talked with, and even one of their husband’s (with the wife present). I’ve grieved much over them because in my haste I misrepresented God’s word to them. I’ve given the enemy fuel for the accusing and have been stuck in a mire of pity and discouragement, and much more, all as a result of not learning in silence.

The call to the sidelines in the months which followed that first year or two of running to the wrong hoop (not learning in silence) was even harder than it was for me in 7th grade. God humbled me and I didn’t want to “play” anymore! But this past year He’s been teaching me the importance of having a godly sorrow that leads to turning around, not a worldly sorrow that leads to giving up (death). God doesn’t want me to stay sorrowful and stop running the race set before me (Hebrews 12:1). He wants me to receive with meekness what He teaches me in His word and let be implanted in me for true growth.

Therefore lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness, and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls. – James 1:21

So this week as I was reflecting on this bad play from my past I thought, “Your Word is so good Lord! There’s nothing at all to be despised about 1 Timothy 2:11. It’s a rule of Your game of faith that will save many women from running to the wrong basket.”

Oh, how I wish I had of been more like Mary in the days, weeks and years following the miraculous intervention of God in my life. I wish I had just treasured up all the things God was doing and speaking to me, pondering them in my heart… learning in silence.

There’s a time to learn in silence and there’s a time to teach good things. But I would be wise to be sure I’ve learned before I teach.

So how do I know if I’ve learned something so that I might go teach it to another woman as God would have me?

Here are some questions I’m asking myself now:

  • Am I still learning?
  • Do I still have questions?
  • Has this topic gone from “taking it in” to “fleshing it out” in my life or am I still just taking it in?
  • Is what I think I’ve learned clearly in the Word?
  • Do other godly women and accurate teachers of God’s Word I know confirm the things I’ve learned in their teaching of the Word?

It’s SOOOOO important to stick close to the Word!

When God says “learn in silence” He’s not saying, “Don’t talk to anyone.” He’s saying take time to learn, and while you’re learning, keep quiet about it. He also says, “Older women be teachers of good things,” and then He even goes on to list those good things very clearly.

God does want us to “teach” other women in our lives, for we are “older” than someone in the Lord, and we are “younger” than someone too. But if we stray from the simple power of God’s word and add in a lot of our own thoughts (which I have done), sin is not absent.

In the multitude of words sin is not lacking, But he who restrains his
lips is wise.
– Proverbs 10:19

The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul; The testimony of
the Lord is sure, making wise the simple; The statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; The commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes; The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever; The judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, Yea, than much fine gold; Sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb. Moreover by them Your servant is warned, And in keeping them there is great reward.
– Psalm 19:7-11

As I look back on my own mistakes I wish I had of made a few “passes” instead of running down the court with the ball. In other words, I wish I had of gotten together with another Biblical “older” woman in my life and discussed the things I was learning and then just prayerfully waited for who I should share it with.

Where there is no counsel, the people fall; But in the multitude of
counselors there is safety.
-Proverbs 11:14

None of us in our “learning” ever fully arrive at attaining what we’ve learned. Even Paul said,

Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press
on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me
.” -Phil.3:12

And we know that the Lord wants us to teach others what He teaches us:

Whatever I tell you in the dark, speak in the light; and what you hear in the ear, preach on the housetops. -Matthew 10:27

Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in
the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.
-Matthew 28:20

…the older women likewise, that they be reverent in behavior, not
slanderers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things– that they
admonish the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be discreet, chaste, homemakers, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be blasphemed. –
Titus 2:3-5

Yet there is clearly a time for quietly learning and waiting, receiving the implanted Word meekly, and letting it mature into seen fruitfulness in our own lives before we set out to teach it to others.

I am convinced, after my own sin in this, that there is a need to stop and truly spend time waiting on the Lord when He’s doing or has done something in our lives that we’re eager to share. I’m so quick to want to share with others what I’m learning, but there’s something to be said for just treasuring up what I’m learning, so that a day may come when I can effectively teach it to others.

Here I am, blogging about learning in silence. May seem to be a bit of a contradiction. And truly, the fact that I’ve set out to share my life and God’s Word on this blog should cause me to pause and check myself to be sure what I’m sharing is accurately God’s word. There’s a healthy tension God would have me press forward in. God does not want me to give up teaching good things- teaching the things He’s taught me, teaching His word accurately- but He wants me to restrain my teaching with silence while I’m learning. In this way I might go forward not like a wild horse, but like a trained and reigned in one.

To help me submit to those reigns gladly, yet move forward in the direction my Master would guide me, I’ve decided to embed these scriptures to the top of each of the posts I go to create. I want to be sure what I share here is clearly and accurately spoken by the Spirit in the scriptures and submitted to in my own life:

Dear brothers and sisters, not many of you should become
teachers in the church, for we who teach will be judged by God with greater strictness.
James 3:1 (NLT)

Women should listen and learn quietly and submissively.
1 Timothy 2:11 (NLT)

But as for you, promote the kind of living that reflects right teaching… live in a way that is appropriate for someone serving the Lord. They must not go around speaking evil of others and must not be heavy drinkers. Instead, they should teach others what is good. These older women must train the younger women to love their husbands and their children, to live wisely and be pure, to take care of their homes, to do good, and to be submissive to their husbands. Then they will not bring shame on the word of God.
Titus 2:1, 3-5 (NLT)

Oh Father, You’ve been so patient with me. I’ve despised Your discipline and pouted for a long time. I haven’t received Your chastisements as a loving Father dealing with His wayward daughter. Thank You for being patient to let me see that it is good that You deal with me so. Please set a guard over my lips, and fingers (for typing), that I might be restrained with silence while I’m learning something You want to teach me. And let me press forward in sharing Your word accurately. I know it begins in my own heart. This is my prayer:

Who can understand his errors? Cleanse me from secret faults. Keep back Your servant also from presumptuous sins; Let them not have dominion over me. Then I shall be blameless, And I shall be innocent of great transgression. Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart Be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord, my strength and my Redeemer. -Psalm 19:12-14

* Related: A Great Devotion from Elizabeth Elliot on Observation in Silence

Redeeming the time