“…speaking the truth in love, we must grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by every ligament with which it is equipped, as each part is working properly, promotes the body’s growth in building itself up in love.
We all have a voice. That matters. But what matters more is what we choose to give voice to and how we choose to do that. Does what we say tear down or build up? How we answer that question matters most.
By the evening of January 6, 2021, I was nearly voiceless. I was a jumble of raw emotions because of what I had seen taking place earlier that afternoon in Washington DC. I had no idea how to respond. I was adrift, floundering somewhere in that thin space between feeling equal parts anger, disbelief, fear, grief, and despair, and that very odd sensation that we call “numb.” The only relief I found was from a Lutheran pastor in Denver who tweeted this encouragement: “Don’t expect yourself to be productive right now.” I don’t like feeling numb. I don’t like not being able to speak into very difficult situations with calm, clarity and direction. But on Wednesday evening I was without words, without a voice, and feeling numb.
What to do? What to say? How does one respond to the madness that we saw?
I’ve been doing some intentional study on the difference between “Limiting Beliefs” and “Liberating Truths.” Limiting Beliefs are attitudes that we embrace about ourselves, about others, about the world. Limiting Beliefs are rooted in scarcity thinking and cause us to be risk-averse, complacent, stagnant, prone to defeat, cynical and stingy. Limiting Beliefs tells us that the world is mess, that there is a powerful minority wholly uninterested in what is good for the majority of the world, and at the end of the day we don’t have what we need to navigate any of that. That was the limiting belief that I had taken hold of me as the sun went down on Wednesday, January 6, 2021.
Liberating Truths, on the other hand, are rooted in an abundance mindset and help us orient our lives toward health and wholeness. With an abundance mindset we are much more likely to be adventurous, ambitious, hopeful realists, generous, open-handed and open-hearted. Liberating truths boldly proclaim that the beauty of the world far outweighs the mess we’ve made of it, and that there are so many more kind and generous people bringing so much more goodness into the world. That was the liberating truth that longed to lean into as the sun came up on Thursday, January 7, 2021.
Since last week when an angry mob entered the Portico on the west side of the Capitol building in Washington DC and smashed their way into the Rotunda and into the sacred halls and inner chambers of our Democracy, I’ve wrestled with the limiting belief that my one voice isn’t strong enough, clear enough, compelling enough to make a difference in the world. I hear a whisper attempting to tell me that I don’t have any real helpful perspective, no salient point of light to lodge against any counterpoint of darkness, that I don’t have enough breath in my lungs to speak against the high tide of evil, that I don’t have a clear word of hope that can bring change in the lives of others. It’s a wretched kind of whisper. And this is a challenge, of course, because for as long as I can remember my highest joy has been to bring a deepened sense of spirited adventure and creative wonder to every encounter by helping others explore the depth of life through the Jesus tradition.
And that’s where the liberating truth comes from.
The counter to the Limiting Belief is the Liberating Truth. Let me be clear: the liberating truth isn’t just a bit of positive thinking. It’s a statement of purpose that propels us forward and has the effect of actually creating goodness, wholeness, life and more life. I am now declaring this Liberating Truth:
“Yes, the world can be a really messy place, but I am here to bear witness to the Light, the Source, the Spirit and the Word – the Good News that out of chaos comes order, out of darkness comes light, out of death comes new life. And I bear witness to that Good News by realizing that my voice is strong enough, my voice is clear enough, that my voice is compelling enough to make an impact on the world, one person at a time.”
David Wood, a friend of mine, is the Senior Minister at Glencoe Union Church in Glencoe, Illinois. In a stirring and compassionate letter to his congregation last week after the events on Wednesday afternoon, David wrote this:
“There are moments we live through in our common life when we know we are living through a moment that will be remembered, collectively, as a turning point in our lives. [January 6, 2021] was one of those days. There are days we live through when we are jolted into a new, unshakable recognition of the precarity of things we hold most dear. In such moments we know, as never before, what is required of us if those things are to endure. [January 6, 2021] was one of those days.”
I deeply appreciate David’s voice. Much will be required of us. January 6, 2021 was a turning point in our lives. And to be sure, more days and more turning points are coming. But the extent to which we acknowledge that each of us has a voice is the extent to which we will recreate a world that is filled less with the darkness of another day of pain and violence, but more with the light of the Epiphany – people from near and far gathering to worship – of all things – a baby, the Prince of Peace.
Centuries ago the Apostle Paul used his voice to urge Followers of Jesus to use their voice to speak words of love. By doing so, we grow up into Christ, the Living Word, the Living Voice which creates love and more love, life and more life. We all have a voice. What matters most is what we choose to give voice to and how we choose to do that.
What’s your Liberating Truth? Use your voice to speak it.