The Sound of Silence (or, gifts come in unexpected packages)

 

The other morning, I was awoken (a bit early) with The Sound of Silence playing in my head – you know, that new cover by Disturbed (it’s awesome, right?!). I’ve been around long enough to know that God often speaks to me very early in the morning, during that twilight time between wakefulness and sleep, when the gates of my conscious mind are unmanned and inspiration can slip through. So, in my quest to honor my soul’s calling, I rolled out of bed, phone in hand, to record what was coming in.

At first glance, the message seemed obvious – Silence. But, what about Silence? As a writer, silence is difficult. Sure, I can be silent verbally, but not mentally, not on paper. I am typically awash in words. Stemming the incessant verbal tide that flows, like water from a broken main, is an unending challenge! In fact, I’ve often thought it a curse. Do you know how hard it is to meditate – to listen – when you can’t “turn off” the faucet? Well, multiply that by 10, and you will come close to comprehending my dilemma.

Not too long ago, however, I recognized this as a gift, my gift – an extraordinary, divinely-inspired gift! Because, when I’m in tune with the Universe, the words that bubble out are like little packages of joy! When I attended church in Texas, the pastor purchased Kleenex boxes for each pew, at least partly due to my penchant for crying. When something touches my Spirit, when God speaks to me, I cry. That’s how I know when a song, a feeling, a word, has resonated with my soul. I mention this because very often, as I am writing, or perhaps when I reread what I have written, I will get tears in my eyes. I say this not out of arrogance but to explain that it is in those moments when I understand that the words didn’t come from me. Well, they came from me, from that source of inspiration within us all, just not from my Ego. They bubbled up from that bottomless well of infinite wisdom that each one of us has access to.

So, there I was, awoken out of a dead sleep, with this song in my head. I sat down to think about what God was trying to tell me. To be quiet? Could be, but that’s kind of vague. To stop and think before I speak in anger? That is definitely one possibility. Or, perhaps it was just to get me thinking about my gift. Human beings come to earth endowed with a variety of physical and personal characteristics, talents, strengths, and weaknesses. But, like my chattering mind, what may at first appear to be a negative trait might actually be beneficial – a hidden strength, even!

For example, as a counselor, I work with lots of students diagnosed with ADD/ADHD. Within our one-size-fits-all education system, many of these students learn to view themselves as failures. They can be impulsive, flighty, forgetful, and unorganized. However, once they learn a few coping skills, the traits they once thought a curse could actually enable them to become wildly successful! Creative, out-of-the-box thinking, ingenuity, risk-taking, and spontaneity are all positive “side effects” of ADD/ADHD, shared by people like Will Smith, Michael Phelps, Sir Richard Branson, Jim Carrey, and David Neeleman, founder of JetBlue Airlines. Neeleman, was asked in an interview for ADDitude Magazine if, looking back, he would choose to be “normal,” as opposed to having ADD. He answered, NO! “I’m afraid of taking drugs once, blowing a circuit, and then being like the rest of you” (Gilman, 2005, p. 1).

If that’s not a testament for reevaluating what we think of as a “weakness,” I don’t know what is! Long story short, although I should still keep my mouth closed before spouting off in an angry tirade (Silence!), I think that there was a deeper message that morning. I believe I was supposed to tell you to value your skills AND your flaws (or what you perceive to be a flaw). God doesn’t make mistakes, remember? Take some time this week to reflect on areas in which you beat yourself up. Look at those “gifts” from a different angle. And then, give thanks!