What? You didn’t think I knew what people say about me?
One fascination of mine has always been observing people. Watching their actions, listening to their words, and trying to figure out what makes them tick. There is one particular attribute I have noticed in nearly all of them—-People are blab mouths. We love to hear our own voice. During conversations, we often value our own words so much more than the other person’s that we unconsciously find ourselves thinking about what we’re going to say next instead of listening. All we really care about is that one momentary pause where we can jump in and continue to share our, “nuggets” of wisdom (notice . . . I put nuggets in quotes).
It’s even worse when it comes to Christians because they always seem to think they’ve got some deep, revelational truth that God sent them to tell you. So it becomes more than just a desire to talk— it’s a crusade. A mission from the Throne Room to straighten you out and mow you down with the, “sword of the spirit.”
God, knowing we have this tendency, spends a huge amount of time in the book of Proverbs trying to get us to shut up and listen. And James does a great job of encapsulating this thought by condensing it into a few words: Let every man be quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger (Jms 1).
Christians practice this passage all the time. They just do it in reverse. Slow to hear, quick to speak, and quick to get angry. As a result, just like the book of Proverbs repeatedly warns, our decision to be disobedient is often met with destruction in one form or another. Then you have these dear folks who were never taught properly and think that every time something bad happens in their life it’s because God has some great, magnificent reason for it. It never seems to occur to them that their failure to listen has resulted the way He warned it would—-with negative consequences.
Why I Suck at Debating
I know in my own life, nearly every time I say something on a discussion of importance without ample time to first reflect on what’s already been said, I regret it later. This is why I suck at debating. Debating requires immediate responses or else the audience thinks that you’ve, “lost.”
A lot of people will be surprised to hear me say this but I’m opposed to debating and arguing. I don’t know how any Christian could be in favor of that type of format when James told us to be quick to hear and slow to speak.
I’m also opposed to debating because it carries with it the idea that we’re supposed to be convincing this other person of how right we are and how wrong they are.
I have absolutely no interest in convincing anyone of anything.
See, folks are so used to loud, overbearing, obnoxious, Christians that they just assume that the only reason anyone would want to talk about a controversial topic is so they can stir up an argument. I can’t tell you how many times people have said to me, “there you go again, causing trouble. You must love arguing with people just for the sake of arguing.” That couldn’t be further from the truth. I hate debating and I hate disagreements.
But here’s the thing—- I love the truth. And that love drives me to put it above my comfort zone. So I talk about it. I ask questions. I engage in conversations that are considered, “weird” or socially awkward. Why? So I can win arguments? No. So I can learn where I’m missing it. I want to test and see if what I believe will stand up under scrutiny. I want to hear from others with different perspectives than mine in the hopes that they can poke holes in my convictions.
In other words, if I’m wrong, I want to know about it!
What’s with the Nerdy Online Stuff?
Although I suspect this is true of everyone, I can only speak for myself when I say that I need time to process and digest information. I also need time to allow my emotions to settle. Very important topics are often very emotional topics and in order to be objective, you have to learn to separate yourself from how they make you feel. Usually my initial knee jerk reaction to what I hear is not the correct one. It’s more defensive than it is logical. That makes having these types of conversations in person very rushed and often fruitless.
This is why written format is so valuable. It allows for ample time to think about what someone says before issuing a response. There is no pressure to just say something in order to fill dead air space or because the other person may think you’re, “losing” if you don’t.
What Christians Really Mean When They Say They Just Want to, “Talk”
Finally, the other benefit of written communication (and this is really one of, if not theeee biggest reason I’ve restricted all discussion to this format) is you can avoid people who talk too much. Simply put, people are rude and inconsiderate. They take advantage of your manners by blabbing non stop, knowing that out of respect you won’t interrupt. These same people will often refuse to have dialogue in any other format than face to face where they’re used to dominating the conversation.
It’s actually gotten to the point now that when someone says, “we should get together and talk about this sometime” what I hear is . . .
“With your permission, I’d like to punish you with my words. First, I’ll start by going on and on, branching off into different tangents. My plan is to keep a steady stream of words going so that you don’t get a chance to zero in on anything suspicious. I’ll be sporadically raising my voice whenever I suspect you may be attempting to cut me off.
Though you will try, you won’t be able to follow or see how any of what I say has anything to do with the subject at hand.
Then I’ll move on to peppering you with quick jabs of semi dubious Bible quotes without giving you a chance to look them up (because to be honest, I don’t know where they are either . . . They may not even be in there, come to think of it).
Sure, you’ll look for a way of escape. Maybe crashing through the nearest window or possibly even stabbing yourself with a fork (because we’ll probably be at a Denny’s or something.) But you won’t have the guts to see it through.
By the time I’m done steam rolling, and stripping you of all hope for getting a word in edgewise, I will have broken your will—-I mean, we’re talking Bane on Batman, I will straight up, break you.
The end result? The most uncomfortable four and a half hours of you’re life. You’ll be legitimately terrified to say or ask anything else for fear that I’ll go off again.
I promise you, the sheer length of my discourse will make you wish you were never born.
Oh . . . And by the way, you better pray I bring Tic-Tacs or else you can kiss those eyebrows goodbye.
. . . So what do you say? How about Denny’s after church, Sunday?”