Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Preach. Use Words Only When Necessary.

Taylor can't talk. Well, he can sort of talk, but not really. Taylor can not read. He can barely write his name. But Taylor can communicate and he hears you loud and clear when you communicate with him. He just doesn't use many words.
So short lesson here: There are 450,000 words in the UN-abridged dictionary. Shakespeare used 60,000 words. Most 25 year olds (Taylor's age) have about 15,000 in their back pockets. Man! That's a lot of talking we could be doing. A lot of hot air. A lot of truths and not-so-truths.
There is a church down the street from us. It's one of those churches where the young people ride bicycles and go door-to-door. (They are very nice to us and let us ride bikes in their parking lot.) But often, they will stop Taylor and me and ask, "Do you mind if we share the Gospel with you? May we witness to you?" My response is always this, "Of course you may. Just don't use any words. Tell me anything about what you believe but do not use words. We're right here for you. You may begin."
You know, here's something to think about. We never really ever need to tell people what we believe. If we could hang around each other for three days, we would be able to tell each other what we see; our (unspoken) beliefs would come shining through. It would be completely obvious. We should be living it---out loud. We are doomed if we have to add subtitles to all of our actions. (I am attending my own lecture here, you can count on it. Holy Cow!! This is so jarring to know---and then admit!)
Taylor speaks through soft touches, easy embraces, direct and open eye contact, and always always with an open heart. His language is one of few words but of total acceptance---of you...of me. How do we--yes, you and yes, me -- speak compassionate acceptance for each other without saying one word? Preach what you believe. Use words only when necessary. Will it be obvious to the rest of us what it is that you believe? No subtitles allowed; take them out. Most of us white-knuckle our way through life protecting what we claim we believe. Silently and arrogantly we almost dare others to question the very actions they witness in us. Sometimes what others see from us just does not line up with what's coming out of our mouths. For example, I would tell you that I believe in helping "the poor." But, am I willing to forego a new kitchen floor, getting my hair colored and cut, buying yet another pair of shoes I'll never wear, or sacrificing those 1500 thread count egyptian cotton sheets? Please look away. I don't think my words match my beliefs. How about you? What is your life's sermon saying? Will we be able to see it? The sound is now muted. Preach.