"You will continue to suffer if you have an emotional reaction to everything that is said to you. True power is sitting back and observing everything with logic; true power is restraint. If words control you that means everyone else can control you; breathe and allow things to pass."
Growing up the things that people would say to me would come in one ear, float around my heart and pull up a chair to stay forever. I was so easily moved by the words that my siblings would throw my way that even when they were kidding around, odds are that I would end up crying.
Years of experience, going to college, traveling the world...it's all toughened me up a bit. I'm not as sensitive as I used to be. Words don't just fly by me but they definitely don't take root in my soul like they used to.
With that being said, lately, I've found the sensitivity and the knee jerk reaction to respond harshly or be easily angered trying to creep it's way back into my life.
When it comes to subjects that I'm very passionate about like the Black Lives Matter movement, my faith/ the church community and our current political situation my patience has started to run so thin. I've struggled in engaging in conversations with people who have differing opinions and find myself mentally shutting down when I start to hear comments and views that I think are ignorant.
Saturday I went for an almost two hour walk in my neighborhood by myself. I went to my favorite coffee shop, got a large cup of coffee to go and just started walking. I laughed, I sang, I spent time with God and towards the end I felt like the Father was challenging my opinions and views and the way I express them.
I felt a soft nudge on my heart encouraging me to not only develop an opinion, but also develop a confidence. A confidence that allows me to engage in conversation with someone and still be passionate as well as open to the possibility that I may be wrong about some things. An openness that allows me to grow in my beliefs while still being grounded in my values.
If I'm being completely honest I think that sometimes when people disagree with me it makes me feel like my opinion and my views are wrong. There are times when I'm having a discussion, especially with men, where I feel like I need to provide irrefutable proof for every single view that I have and that I need to do it at rapid speed. If I can't express what I believe, in ten seconds or less, with facts and data to back it up than I must not have a foundation for my opinion.
Those feelings stem not only from insecurity but also from the subtle influence of a culture of oppression and the silencing/discrediting of women. They stem from the idea that I need to know everything about a topic before I can openly express my opinion about it and that's not true at all. The mindset that your opinion can't ever change about a certain topic and if it does then you probably didn't believe in it in the first place is so deeply flawed.
We as humans are not stagnant beings. If our minds never change about a topic it's because we're choosing to stay in that place. Life is all about growing, learning and developing and one of the ways that we do that is through conversations with people that make us feel safe enough to be wrong and supported enough to learn.
It's in those spaces that we develop the confidence needed to hold our own and not be rattled when surrounded by the angry, hurtful and often aggressive views that are thrown our way.
I'm only a few weeks away from turning 27 and as I approach that awesome day I do so with the resolve to become more open minded, loving and grounded in my convictions. I want others to feel safe to share their views and opinions with me, even if I disagree with them and I want to be able to have that same experience.
More than anything, I want to be firmly rooted and confident in who I am in Christ. Whether someone agrees with me, calls my opinion stupid, thinks that I don't have the right to speak up...whatever. None of that changes my identity and that should be validation enough.
Whether I'm writing my blog or boldly standing up for something I believe in, I feel so blessed to be able to use the beautiful voice that God gave me to exercise my right to speak.