Since November I’ve been attempting an odd sort of fast. Every Thursday I’ve attempted to be extremely careful with my words. The rules are simple, don’t speak unless necessary, be sure to answer questions concisely as possible, and be careful to only say things that matter in eternity. I would begin my fast on Wednesday 8:30 pm night after youth group and conclude it on Thursday before small group 6 pm. Each morning on Thursday I would spend a little time in prayer and then try to be as intentional as possible with my words. I was prepared to adapt my vocabulary, I was prepared to focus my mind on eternity, I was prepared for hours of silence, and I was prepared for this to be awesome! I was not prepared for what God had to teach me.
The first weeks seemed easy. Most of the days were spent in my office reading and studying. Occasionally there was a lunch or meetings to sit through awkwardly, but for the most part these days were quiet already and not talking was only a minor challenge. Then it happened. The Lord began to move in the way He does. God began to speak in the small moments. God always starts with small moments.
I heard the laughter in the office adjacent to mine and was drawn to the fellowship of humor. I stood in the doorway and watched as my brothers in Christ bantered with one another. I longed to engage, I wanted to be seen, I wanted to know that I mattered. And yet, I stood back and faded into the void. Thus began my journey to understanding this very peculiar rift in my soul.
Slowly, my Lord began to expose my wound. Over the next few months I would experience opportunities to rest in silence and be inconsequential. In the silence God revealed a deep fear in my soul. I am absolutely terrified that I will not be heard. I fear people will not hear my voice and I will not matter. I fear that my life and my voice will be inconsequential. The remarkable truth about fear is it’s propensity to inspire irrational responses. The fear that I would not matter drove me to say and do things that didn’t matter. I would make jokes that bore no weight on the soul. I would engage in trivialities. My fear drove me to inconsequential existence. When I intentionally forced myself to only say what matters it was revealed how little my words have mattered. Giving into the fear of meaninglessness drove me to meaningless speech for the sake of attention. Whereas striving to make my words significant forced me to be silent and often fade into the background, but what I did say matters.