Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Silence

When I was a kid, I didn't talk much. And when I did, it was because I was arguing with somebody. I picked my fights carefully, the ones I knew I would win or if I felt backed into a corner. My opponents were usually caught off guard. But this was so infrequent, it was usually forgotten what happened when I decided to say something.

In high school, a good friend and I were hanging out at the library at lunch time perusing the science fiction paperbacks. She picked up a little book with the peculiar title "The Quiet American" and showed it to our other friends nearby playing chess, and then pointed to me. They all laughed. Which made me blush and then they laughed even more. I didn't like attention and I learned that you didn't have to say a thing to get it.

Although I was quiet on the outside, I was noisy on the inside. I obsessively wrote in journals, which I still have. About everything I had an opinion on back then, good or bad, is in those notebooks. I haven't read them in years, it's kind of embarrassing how self-righteous I was. In between the rants, there were deep laments about the world and myself. I'm sure I was typical as a teenager, kind of depressed with a lot of angst and confusion. I was sure that there was nothing to live for. I was sure I was a loser. I was lost on how to connect with people or love anybody or be loved. And then it got dark. I was plunging into an abyss and I didn't know how to retrieve myself. I started to get quiet on the inside as well not because I had found inward peace but because I was afraid of where my thoughts were leading me. If I knew anything about philosophy, I would've seen that I was a perfect nihilist at fifteen years old.

While walking down the school hallway, presumably with that perpetual dark cloud hanging over my head, a girl stopped me and gave me a hug and told me that "God loves you!" Hmm, did that instantly make me happy? I was not happier, just startled. Yet, I respected that girl and knew her life was not a bowl of cherries, either. Her comment moved me onto a new trajectory of thought along the lines of "Yeah, what about God?" or "He loves me? Prove it!" or "What is love, anyway?".
Nowadays, when I think about it, I marvel how brave that girl was in taking that step towards me. Quiet people are intimidating. And they know it.

I started praying "The Lord's Prayer" before going to sleep every night. I started having amazing dreams of falling over a cliff and God's love rescuing me. But I still didn't know how He loved me. I wanted to know and when confronted with the truth of the Gospel a few months later, I knew that I was no longer lost.

Yes, I was still silent. I was dismayed when I was voted "Most Shy" in my class, because quiet didn't mean scared (a great friend wrote in my annual "yeah, but I know the truth!"). My notebooks became full of plans for my future (WSU, here I go!), observations about God and the Bible, and concern for my friends and family members' welfare. Inwardly, chaos turned to order. But as usual, words don't say everything.

It was the last week of classes and John S.was behind me in the clarinet section performing the usual funnies he had for eight years that I knew him. I knew I was going to miss him and inwardly wished him well. He stopped in mid-antic and stared at me. Later, he asked me why I had changed. Changed, John? What are you talking about? You smile. You never did that before. Hmm, yes, it must be my new contact lenses.(smile) Are you sure? I don't believe that. Wasn't it God? You know, God coming into your life? He came into mine. No response. Silent wonder.

No comments: