Thursday, May 29, 2014

Maya's Impact -- Words

There are days when I feel like an inspired writer. The image in the mirror actually looks the part. The stars hold hidden meaning. Worship songs hold depth and meaning. I sit like a lady and I write things with actual rhyme and reason to them. My work has structure, points, and sometimes even pictures and poems to go with it.
And then there are these days, or nights, I should say, maybe. Everything makes me want to cry. I'm sitting at the computer, Indian-style, in my grungiest pajamas, past my preferred bedtime, with Pandora playing. Partially because watching The Brady Bunch right now would be considered pathetic by most people. Mostly due to the fact that I was inspired to write today. Not the pretty kind of inspiration, though.
One of my favorite poets died.
Maya Angelou. I knew her story. I had written a paper on her. I'd read her poetry, and I even posted one here. She was not just a name to me. She was one of my heroes. I know she had faults - we all do - but her story ... it wasn't one I could just read and move on from. Even  now, as I Google her to get my facts straight, I have to hold back tears. Everything reads "She was" now ... last I checked, things read "Maya Angelou is." But now she was.
Here is the part of her story that gets into my blood. As a child, she was abused and raped by her mother's boyfriend. She told her brother, and word got around, leading to the man's imprisonment, for one day. Days after his release he was murdered, presumably by one of Maya's male relatives.
She thought her words had killed him.
So she stopped speaking.
For almost five years.
Silence. 
She had gone through all of that, but she kept it bottled inside out of fear for those around her. She had discovered the power of words.
Funny how her voice is now what she is most renowned for. She was silent for all those years, learning to listen, observe, and remember ... and then she learned how to use her voice to bring life instead of death.
I don't have every detail of her life memorized. I'm not here to write a biography. I will not praise all of the choices she made. I do not claim that all her work is classic literature that should be read by all. I only know this: she inspired me with this one bit of herself that was beyond extraordinary.
I have days that I wish I had no voice; wish I had just kept quiet. There are days when I doubt that anyone truly wants to hear what I have to say. There are days when the war inside seems to throw me over and I don't dare put pen to paper. Or fingers to keys. I forget the power of words.
Maya's story tells me that we have three choices when it comes to speaking. We can say words that kill, say words that bring life, or we can be silent. The worst words I've spoken have been the ones that I hurriedly spit out when I felt like I had nothing to say. No adequate comeback. No witty remark. No comforting thought. Sometimes there is exquisite help found in silence. Some things are better left unsaid.
And then there are things that you just cannot keep inside. I've kept things to myself, and have literally become sick from the weight and pressure.
Your story needs to be told. Maybe it can bring beauty. Instruction. Warning. Hope. Inspiration. If discretion is necessary, tell someone you know you can trust (and we have the constant ear of the One who is Truth itself; He longs to hear our heart-cries). The Lord will show you when it is time to tell your story, if you ask Him. That's how I wind up writing bits of mine here. It doesn't seem helpful or beautiful, trust me, but He knows better. He makes stars from the darkness. He can use my tired sentences. He can use my silence.
So I am surrendering. Letting go of my preconceived notions of what is or is not acceptable to tell people. Abandoning my opinion that my opinion actually matters. Opinion never matters. Truth is what matters. Opinion changes how we view the world, but no matter what lenses you look through to see, truth is what remains; God is what remains. So it does not matter what I think, but what He knows. And somehow He uses my past, my experience, my present, my perspective, my hope, my retrospect, my position, my opposition, the fragments of my life that I thought were entirely irrelevant, the dreams that never came to be, and my very life to do something that is completely unique. God's plan is always unexpectedly, extravagantly, hopelessly beautiful.
He gave me a voice. He told me to speak; to write. So here are my words.