I always feel like I need to have an opinion. This has often caused some level of pain; either to myself, others, or both. Yet I press on with this idea that I need to have some level of thought about every topic I encounter. It’s ironic, actually, because I really value learning, and growing, and changing. Yet, in spite of that value, I discover that there is no room for simply not knowing something in my life. Wherever I don’t know facts, I inject opinion, for surely that will do just as well. Right?
But it doesn’t. My opinion is not often in the majority. I find myself forming half developed ideas, and then having to stand alone. It happens all the time. I can justify it in a dozen different ways, of course. I’m like Elijah, standing alone as a prophet. Only, when he said that to God, God gave him a smack down and told him to get over himself. There were thousands of others God had set aside besides Elijah. So, usually, the Elijah stance doesn’t fare very well.
I can claim that I am misunderstood. But if that is true, how much of it is my fault? Am I really speaking in grace, love, mercy, and hope? No, not usually. If I were, people would react differently. I wouldn’t get the look of confused amazement that conveys “You actually believe what you just said?” quite as often, I think. I don’t believe this is really the root of the problem.
Or I can realize it comes down to fear and pride. That’s where I usually land with my feet on something solid. I’m afraid of what will happen if I have nothing to add to a conversation. I’m afraid I’ll be passed over, forgotten. But isn’t that the whole point of this idea of following Jesus. Shouldn’t I be living a life where I am remembered and noticed less and less, and He is seen more and more? If so, then it’s okay to be passed over, to be missed. I can rest easy in His care. If I’m needed, He will open that up in my life. If not, that is equally beautiful.
It’s so hard to take a gun to the lecherous animal of pride and kill it. It’s so integral, so destructively comforting, that it’s hard to separate from. It’s much like one of the ghosts in C.S. Lewis’ book The Great Divorce. This soul is at the gateway to heaven, being pursued by one of the angels. But the ghost has a small, foul lizard on his shoulder. It whispers in his ear to run, to be afraid, to ignore the angel. The angel repeatedly asks if it can kill the lizard on the ghost’s shoulder. Finally, in desparation, the ghost agrees. “Kill it!” he cries. Immediately the angel rips the lizard from the man’s shoulder, leaving the man screaming in agony. But, the man begins to transform into something new, something solid, something beautiful. As he looks at the lizard laying dead on the ground, he is free. The lust, the dark passions of his life, are gone. And as he watches, the lizard goes through a transformation as well. It changes into a gorgeous, powerful stallion, which the man mounts and rides into the hills of heaven. The narrator explains that passion turned inward becomes a terrible, dark voice in our ear of self destruction. But when we allow God to rip the lust away and kill it, He gives it new life as a powerful passion that can drive us ever closer to Him.
So, I stand, asking for God to take my fear and pride, and make it something new. Something beautiful. Something which will carry me closer to Him. Maybe then I can finally learn to be okay with not knowing. And with keeping my mouth shut. Maybe.