I have been doing some reflecting of late. And not much writing. I’m happy to see people are still looking at my blog, even if I haven’t posted anything since Monday.
Why am I writing? What purpose is there in wanting to communicate clearly, either verbally or in writing?
I attended a Toastmasters meeting Wednesday evening and I think I found part of my answer. There was a young lady there who had suffered a stroke at birth and multiple seizures after birth. The doctors told her parents that she had irreparable brain damage and would never leave the hospital, or if by some miracle she did survive long enough to go home, she would never walk or talk.
This young lady not only learned to walk, she became a runner, competing in Special Olympics events. Wednesday evening she read her speech, but she read clearly, without mispronouncing or stumbling over any word. She wrote the talk herself and made only a passing reference to her disability. Her point was that we are all called to do our part in fulfilling the Great Commission.
We are acquainted with the family; her mother has written a book about Amee. I am impressed at how she is continuing to grow and learn and has become an articulate and bubbly young lady.
So here I am, an old geezer with a lifetime of experience outside and inside Evangelical Christian circles. And a head packed full of stories and information that I’ve lived, observed, heard or read. It seems to me that I see things outside that circle in a way that many people inside just do not comprehend. And I see things from the inside that are just not getting through to those on the outside.
I am also someone from a non-Anabaptist background who has chosen the Anabaptist faith as the truest expression of the Christian faith. It seems to me that we all – Anabaptists, Evangelicals and non-Christians – live in our hermetically-sealed bubbles, passing each other on the street, but unable to speak intelligible words to each other.
The things we say make sense to us and others who live in the same kind of bubble that we are in. Those words may be misunderstood by others; they may even sound like nonsense. We sense that we are not getting through, so we say the same words, just a little louder. That doesn’t work either and we begin to suspect that the others are just not able to think very clearly.
We really need to get out of our bubble and connect with people. We don’t need a new gospel in hipster language, but we may need to drop some of the expressions that have been repeated over and over through the past two generations. I don’t think they really worked two generations ago and they certainly don’t now. Nor do we need more important sounding words. The deepest truths are communicated with simple words. But to really communicate, we have to become vulnerable, drop our masks, overcome our fears and become real people to those we meet.
Perhaps I have as much of a handicap as Amee. She has spent her life up to now in a battle to overcome her disabilities – and she is succeeding. What’s stopping me?