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Nov 11 2017

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It’s the silence that kills

The Five Minute Friday word is silence. (My five minutes of writing is under words of life*.) “For 16 years, Brenda Tracy bore the burden of a life-altering trauma in silence.” As I read her story recently, I saw silence again and again. In breaking her silence, she challenges the status quo and inspires change. And, I hope, helping many people to speak, to stand up for the hurting and stand against what’s wrong.

It's the silence that kills

It’s the silence that kills

 

Silence is a problem in our world. I see it in the news. I feel the weight of it in my friends’ lives. It hits home in my family, and I have my own stories of silence. That which is left unsaid has as much power as the spoken word, but with a different twist. Silence permeates the lives of many because the victim isn’t always the one who doesn’t speak. Sometimes the perpetrator is the one who kills with no words at all.

Isolation silence

In one instance, it’s the soul-eating silence of hidden shame and pain. Bullying. Physical, emotional, or sexual abuse. Job loss. Grief. Pressure from without and within. The situations vary, but the pain is real. When a person suffers silently, they torment themselves. If left hidden and without aid, it leads to a tragic end. Those tragic ends lead to other tragic ends. So many people suffer when silence kills.

Withholding

But the silence of withholding is equally deadly. When life-giving words ought to be spoken yet are kept quiet,   people suffer. Gratitude. Encouragement. Counsel. Wisdom. Truth. Love. Protection. Restoration. This world needs life-giving words.

We’re all touched by silence

We’ve all been silent at one time or another. We’ve all kept things inside instead of seeking help. We’ve all sat dumbstruck when our words could have helped. We did that because we didn’t know what to do or we didn’t believe it’d make a difference.

But we’ve felt the pain of others’ silence as well. When my friend committed suicide many years ago, I was left with a gaping wound wondering why. The what if’s flooded my mind and heart. If she had called me or called someone, I would have…. Could I have been more attentive or done something differently?

Her silence still haunts me with an unanswered ache.

My father died when I was eight. I have no memory of him saying he loved me. There’s a space where those words should have been placed.

Silence touches us all, but I wonder if we realize how silence kills. Our news reports are filled with stories of silence. Some are like Brenda’s that are being told after a long period of quiet. Some are the tragic results of a person’s long-unresolved inner turmoil. We’re left looking for answers. What if words of life were spoken instead of left unsaid? Could those things be prevented?

Maybe we can make a difference by choosing to fill our world with words of life.

Words of life that need to be spoken in our world today*

I love you.

You matter to me.

Thank you.

Forgive me, I was wrong.

I’m sorry.

I forgive you.

I need help.

Let’s be friends.

How can I help you?

Would you like me to listen?

You did a good job.

Do you want a hug?

How can I pray for you?

Will you call me if you’re struggling?

I’ll to go with you (to report abuse).

I’m not okay with that kind of teasing or joking.

Stop bullying.

I won’t keep that secret.

What words of life do you need to speak today?

Every day, we have a choice. There are people all around us suffering in silence. Be the voice of life. You might be the one who makes a difference.

If you’re the one suffering, will you reach out to a trusted friend? Find someone to talk with about your pain. There is hope and healing to be found.

 

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2 comments

  1. Lesley

    I love your take on this prompt, Cheryl! Yes, silence can be very destructive at times. I’ve tried for a while now to be intentional about speaking those words of life. It doesn’t take much to encourage someone or let them know we care but it can make a big difference!

    1. Cheryl

      It can make a difference. I’ve never regretted saying words of encouragement. But I’ve regretted not speaking more words of kindness.

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