Ever been around someone who’s so loud and obnoxious about their beliefs that you’re completely turned off? What about someone who’s so quiet and reserved that she never stands up or speaks out – a wallflower who fades into the background?
I think there’s a middle ground: a volume loud enough to be heard above the drone of this world but quiet enough to hear others as well. Looking back on my life thus far, I see now that sometimes I’ve been too loud. Sometimes too quiet. At times, those extremes have been due to me not experiencing healing in areas where I needed it; healing that would have enabled me to step into the fullness God had for me at that particular time. Other times, my being at the wrong volume has been because of the particular season in which I was.
I often think back to a quieter season I had not that long ago. Within a span of about two years I lost three loved ones that were precious to me.I’ll share more of this as we go along but the short version is that I lost my mother-in-law to cancer, had a miscarriage, and lost one of my best friends (my same age), again, to cancer. Each one was devastating. Together as a sum they were discouraging. Although I was never silent (that doesn’t happen to me often!), I was in a quieter phase – a season of trauma, then of healing, then of rebuilding. I’m not sure exactly what was built from that time but I did learn a lot. I also cried a lot.
The healing I experienced during that season, which brings me to where I am today, has inspired an upward turn to a higher volume. It’s been a very gradual incline, but today I’m feeling loud. Not obnoxiously loud. Just loud. Wanting to be heard. I know myself better, I’ve learned to show myself more grace, give myself more space – to mourn, to grieve, to be disappointed – and to receive His love more deeply than I had before. What is meant for bad in our lives, God can and will redeem. Oh how I could write a book on the lessons learned in that season! But, instead of getting off track, I’m going to focus now on what I originally set out to write about today. (Focus, Samantha, focus!)
This blog will likely have a theme threaded throughout: of finding that spot, that middle-ground, that strikes the right balance, finds the right volume, as we live in the tension of being in this world but not of this world. When I talk about “finding your right volume” I’m referring to something that’s relative to you. When I say “meet me in the middle”, I mean your middle, not mine. We all can “meet up,” middle-to-middle. And your middle-ground may be different at different times.
I tend to think in black and white, this way or that, one side or the other. Not that I judge which side is better (quiet/loud, colorful/gray, active/still); it’s just the way my brain works – gimme a break, I’m an accountant for cryin’ out loud! When I came up with the some-of-my-favorite-things list I couldn’t help but notice I’m kind of a study in contrasts. I like quiet escapes and loud music, bright colors and soothing ones, hanging out with loved ones and being alone. I like it all, but at different times; each at the appropriate time. It’s much like that with finding our volume. You could be in a quieter season right now which is healing you and/or preparing you for a later, different season, possibly a louder one.
Taking this a step further: to say that finding the middle ground is a good thing doesn’t mean we’re never called out to the extremes. (Thank goodness because I live there a lot!) My guess is that the people in the temple courts the day Jesus pushed over the moneychangers’ tables probably thought he was being pretty loud and obnoxious. The mental image that story conjures up has me thinking it was not only loud, but disruptive in a shock-you-into-stillness sort of way, as well as being very messy. He offended people for sure. There were also times he was quieter, escaped even, when he felt the crowds pressing in on him and sensed he needed some time alone to be with his Father and hear His voice.
Jesus was always at the right volume. I’m thankful I have him to look to for my example of how to be, how to live. He was in the extremes when the time called for it and in the middle-ground (between the extremes) at other times. Always perfectly appropriate when using his voice, his volume, even when he shocked the observers and challenged the powers that be. Remember the “T” in the “S-A-L-T” acronym? This is what I meant: timing varies, use wisdom, consider the situation and the season in which you find yourself.
After writing this I’ve about talked myself out of meeting in the middle. I’ve written myself to the conclusion that we’re called out to the extremes or somewhere in-between at different times and for different reasons and purposes. But that was never the point anyway. The point is this: you’re always in the right spot and at the right volume when you’re being led by Him. It’s possible to be right where you’re supposed to be when you’re in the middle, or at the transition place, or at one-end-of-the-spectrum or the other. The key is to be in constant communication with the One who’s leading you. Pray without ceasing. Did you know the following verse that’s so commonly quoted, about which songs have been written, refers to hearing His word when read in the original language?
Your word is a lamp to guide my feet and a light for my path. Psalm 119:105
Looking for signs of God, listening for His voice, perceiving where he wants you and at what volume, are all a part of being led by Him; all a part of life with Him.
The odd-looking bench in the picture above, taken in South Carolina, is called a joggling board. I did not travel there just for this picture; I happened to be there already, although I wouldn’t put it past me. I can just hear the phone conversation now: “Mom, Dad, Jon and I need to make a trip out of state to snap a picture for my blog…..What’s that you say? I could photoshop myself into one from the internet? What? Huh? Photoshop? The internet? Sorry, never heard of ‘em. I’ll be by to drop the kids in about an hour. We’ll only be gone a couple of days, I promise….Why’s it so important, you ask? Well because thousands of (a girl can dream can’t she?), if not at least several, people are counting on me to be interesting and funny and spiritually-wise all at the same time and I seriously need some pictures that draw them in and stimulate them visually (my interior-design friend said she likes blogs with pictures)….I gotta go; I’m packin’ my bags. Toodle-loo…”
Actually we snapped the picture because I was writing a post about meeting in the middle and I thought it may be a good illustration. What I didn’t know at the time was the history of the joggling board: Created by family members for a woman with joint problems, the purpose was to give her a means of exercise. Joggling boards later became hugely popular but the first one was made in South Carolina in the 1800s out of a pliable timber for this ailing woman and her loved ones suggested she sit on it and gently bounce.
A woman with a sickness, using a tool to exercise her body, may be even to gain some healing along the way. The applications of that illustration are endless. I’ll shut up now and give you space for your imagination to run wild….Stand at either end, stand in the middle, bounce all along the way ladies…..let’s have some fun!
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