Not Much to Say These Days? Find Silence Welcomed Here.
"If you don't know what to say, choose silence. In doing, we amplify those voices that are most prone to being drowned out by the noise of the world. Maybe it's not your voice you need to hear today."
- Cole Arthur Riley, Author of This Here Flesh.
This thread came out of Riley’s Instagram Sunday morning and in addition to stopping me in my scrolling, it led me to take a deep breath.
Social media is flooded with images, prayers, articles on what’s happening in Ukraine. And I found myself silent, assuming it was my own ignorance or cowardice. Assuming I should just re-post or retweet what seems impactful or important.
As I kept scrolling, I read more about #AfricansinUkraine. And I’m shocked, but at the same time, not shocked by the blatant racism displayed even as people are fleeing for their lives.
It feels like the evils of power, racism, and injustice will continue. That no matter how much I keep scrolling, this is not going away.
Shouldn’t we be asking, whose voices are being drowned out in these conversations? What would it look like if we asked whose voice we need to hear today as Riley suggests?
If I were to keep scrolling, I would see #ChristianNationalism infiltrates some of these conversations. These continue to drown out the voices of others even with things like mask rights and Covid trends. Our social media feeds can be frustrating. My heart feels calloused–it seems the only response when I feel helpless…or annoyed.
If I continued scrolling, Trayvon Martin’s death anniversary and a guilty verdict for Ahmaud Arbery’s murderers would come up. As a pot full to the brim, so is the heaviness of my heart. It seems not much has changed with racial injustice in America, yet many Christians are riled up about CRT.
As image-bearers of God, we should care. We should love our neighbor. We should be broken by systemic racism, the refugee crisis, and civil war.
For a moment, what if we chose silence?
Some may argue that silence implies compliance, especially in the wake of church abuse and racial injustice. And for some, silence may not reflect our heart of empathy and compassion. “How will my friend know I care about these issues?” I agree and understand. In fact, I firmly believe that there is a time to speak up and act. There should be an ongoing pursuit of relationships so that folks are not just hearing from you from one soapbox to the next.
My bigger question and challenge for myself is when the world is heavy and the air feels thick, what if we chose to stop filling our minds with our feeds? What if we allow silence and give others and ourselves space to breathe?
Does this mean we sit on our hands and do nothing?
No, because as the heart of God aches for those trying to flee what is happening in Ukraine, the refugee trying to make it somewhere safe, or the Black mother grieving the safety of her child, we can find our refuge in Him.
No, because the only way to fulfill the call in Micah 6:8 is to “do justice.”
No, because as Riley says, “Silence can be sacred.”
While one form of justice work could be increasing awareness through social media, what if instead of reposting or retweeting to let it fall on deaf ears, why not bring our cries to the Lord? For many, these last few years have been heavy, discouraging, and endless. So taking some breaths and turning to the One who gives us breath may be just what we need.
Can a corrupt throne be allied with you— a throne that brings on misery by its decrees? The wicked band together against the righteous and condemn the innocent to death. But the Lord has become my fortress, and my God the rock in whom I take refuge. He will repay them for their sins and destroy them for their wickedness; the Lord our God will destroy them. Psalm 94:20-23
In a short social media silence, I cling to the truth that God will not share his throne. He will put an end to all wickedness. The air is thick with injustice, but the One who tore the veil of the temple will pierce through this too. In this in between, I can rest, grieve, be silent, and plead “Maranatha! Come quickly, Lord Jesus.”
Rachel C. Varghese is a teacher, writer, and homeschooling mom who supports the Better Samaritan as Communications Associate. With her past ministry and church staff experience, Rachel is passionate about learning, living out, and equipping others with the Word in all aspects of life.
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