For many years, I didn’t have an opinion. I was raised to listen and learn and be careful when I did speak and I often felt that I wasn’t being listened to. Yeah well, sometimes life is like that eh? But then came the Internet, email groups, forums, the power of seeing my own words in print! Wow, there’s something powerful about seeing one’s own words in print, if only on a document or an email. (I try to harness this and expand on it with teaching my children various writing skills.)
I realised that I really did have an opinion but it was learning how to voice it that was the tricky part. We all have opinions! Many of them! The difficulty isn’t in having thoughts, feelings or opinions; it is in the expressing of them. Over the years I have been offended and done some offending! I have written in haste and also taken so long to write a response that I was considered rude, but I have a learned a lot.
I’ve learned that it’s best for me to only write from my experience- that is something that I can talk about. I cannot write logically (although I’m learning through writing) or even in a concise manner but I can speak about my life experiences, lessons learned and my journey throughout life. But mainly, I’m learning that the power of words is awesome and a great responsibility- even on a blog. As home-based-learners we value the written word. So often we read something that one has written and we take it as ‘gospel’ or absolute truth without truly looking at where it came from and assess it carefully. We seem to forget that anyone can have blog or a website or even write a book!
How many times have you read a raving curriculum review? A positive note of delight about a resource that makes you feel like you can’t be without this new resource – to read a little more carefully and discover that the writer has only used it for a week or so, or a month. Really, is that truly a testament to the positive fruitfulness of a resource? Well to be fair, it doesn’t mean yay or nay but it does need to be considered. I have tried many resources that have worked for a season, and then the novelty has worn off and the monotony returns. This doesn’t mean the resource is lacking in any way though. I’ve also read rave reviews of curricula and thought that I needed it, yet I lacked some vital information. E.g: has the person writing the review used product ‘A’ with one or two children, or with several? The writer may have had a degree in history thus able to use the product more efficiently than a woman who doesn’t have a degree in history. The same can be said with negative reviews- I’m learning to read things more critically now.
I try to be aware of these things when I write a review nowadays. It’s not pleasant to sense that one’s own words have had an effect upon someone so that they’ve rushed out to purchase a much needed resource only to find that it was a waste of money for them. Of course the reader must take responsibility but this certainly doesn’t negate the responsibility of the writer. Just because something is in print doesn’t mean it is right.
Another example is something I read recently. A couple had strong feelings about issues of birth control and then wrote a book about it. A few years, and children, later they changed their mind. Now of course, its one’s prerogative to change one’s mind right? But let us not forget the power of the written word. How many people read this book and formed their own life changing thoughts based upon the information contained therein? Who knows? Thankfully, the couple have written about their change in thought. However, it’s a good reminder that just because it is written, doesn’t make it true! Only the Bible is infallible and without error- not even well intentioned, honourable men are infallible and without error.
I often look back to some of my beliefs and opinions that I held years ago- I’m thankful that I didn’t air them publicly so as to possibly affect others. When communicating we have a certain responsibility to say what we mean and while we cannot be responsible for exactly what others hear us saying, we do need to be as clear as possible. That, is effective communication. Yes, we all change our minds and positions occasionally, which is why we need to be careful when we speak or write. It’s quite a humbling thought to realise that what I say today, I may not be quite so adamant about in 5 years time. This doesn’t mean that I’m wrong or weak or anything other than we’re always growing, developing and maturing as people. Generally, *time* and *experience* are a wonderful thing to consider.
The book of 1 Peter addresses this somewhat. As children of God, He has given gifts- whatever He wants to whomever He wants. He desires that we serve the body of Christ with our gifts. This is an awesome responsibility. Writing and speaking is a gift. We should give all honour and glory to God while serving with our gift.
The end of all things is near. Therefore be clear minded and self-controlled so that you can pray. Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms. If anyone speaks, he should do it as one speaking the very words of God. If anyone serves, he should do it with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.
1 Peter 4:7-11
Lord, help me to write and speak carefully. Help me to read critically. Be with me when I speak or write?help me to communicate effectively and to recognise that part of communication is what a reader hears, not just what I say, whether it be my husband, children or someone else. Let my words be weighted with this right responsibility so that I may give glory only to you.