My near-Hippie mother is such a perfect product of the 60s and 70s. She’s brave, outspoken, brazen. And at once, she’s also deeply invested in maintaining the homeostasis of peace by letting people live how they choose. She wants people happy, healthy, thriving, and most of all, free.
I’ve always been my mother’s child this way, and now so is my daughter. We’re sort of “social Amazons”, walking head-down ever-forward, always laughing too loud, coming in too hard…
So we’re told, anyway.
It might be hard to imagine that in my upbringing by the sea, none of these characteristic were ever regarded as negatives. In my old world of strong, mostly divorced or separated single moms, these traits weren’t only accepted, they were weapons of survival. And we come by it honestly.
Like the quiet meekness that is inane and cultural in the Anabaptist culture that later adopted me, our expressed inner-loudness is cultural for Acadians and Mi’kmaq women. For me, it was quite the culture shock. And it has left me as a convert, and the mother of a feral daughter, in a chronic state of trying to balance healthy self-expression, and following the Anabaptist cultural wave. There is a scriptural, Christian truth in the middle of my cultural volume, and that of hundreds of years of Anabaptist history.
Cultural tones like the one I’m discussing, are usually the end-result of the past. We’re loud because we were abused in silence, in the dark. Or alternatively, because we were historically abused right out in the open, and then silenced. And then that silence became abuse itself, as a form of neglecting people’s needs for validation and acknowledgement.
Thriving towards the biblical ideal of personal meekness (an endeavor in self-control, and love for God and others), and and having it derived from generations under the thumb of another, are two very different things. The outcome might sound almost the same from the outside, but oppression invokes backlash. Our cultural loud, as women especially, came from a place of push-back so we wouldn’t get crushed. And I believe my Christ understands this, as baby born in the middle of a violent occupation.
Maybe that’s why my “new” surroundings often leave me feeling like I’m playing a character. My life, and all the lives of those before me who helped bring me to this point, did not prepare me for a quiet place. I was made prepared to brazenly plowing through chaos, not quiet contemplation and a-Capella hymns. And there are so many like me.
Quiet is an outcome. Loud is an outcome. Neither good, neither bad. It’s just the current by which our expression flows, and how we sail through social seas.
For someone who is culturally loud, and who’s been intimately silenced under a few thumbs, any socially-quiet outcome can look suspicious and frightening. Even if the path to get are so wildly different, and Christ only invites those in agreement. I’m a gazelle at Christ’s ever-flowing oasis, but I do worry there could be crocodiles in the cool waters that heal me. It doesn’t have to be rational to matter.
It’s all a very strange interpersonal Babel, where our collective voices and our understanding of them can cause rifts and schisms between entire peoples. Though it was mandated by God at the time, I do believe the first segregated cultures were born of Babel itself, with tones and social coping mechanisms of their own to deal with the trauma of their scatter. But it was also born in what kept them together. And we’re no different. Babel has been happening in that way ever since.
But for me, the words of my Christ have been a bridge towards every person in that personal process. He tells me that if my loudness is part of my brokenness, it can be healed. But that if it’s inane to my person, it should be accepted. I can rest in Christ, because I’ll never truly figure out which is which (especially since it changes). Reaching for Him in these challenges bridges me to others and carves in a seat at church that fits only me. I’m there because I was called, not even of my own volition, even in these times my heart deceives me into feeling like I ultimately don’t belong. The Kingdom is the one place of existence where cultural schisms are irrelevant, because we’re bridged by the Divine towards God and each other. I can be there in all my foreign nature. I think it adds a layer of truth to welcoming the foreigner.
Of course, this begs the question: Are these parts of ourselves and our cultures something to fix? Is the mechanism of outcome, based on the consequences of generations past, something God intended for us at the start, or is it a corruption of the of the fall? I’ll never be able to draw a line there myself, and this is where leaning on our Creator ho has all these answers becomes so important. These are good subjected for very intentional prayers.
I believe these are the ways that God can use to keep us learning, and humble. For everything we don’t know, we have to lean on God. It’s truly wonderful, and a privilege, when we can learn from our own potential mistakes, rather than learning from the mistakes of others inflicted on ourselves. It’s so much easier to build ourselves up, when the brokenness of another (or of a whole society) isn’t a factor in God healing us again. There’s no cultural volume that doesn’t require a bridge to each other, and that bridge is the Messiah.
There’s no inner voice and emotional mechanism that doesn’t need the Holy Spirit’s direction to be understood and well received in this world. But there’s also great benefit in making the decision to be open to those with a different sound.