I've never really been that much of a talker, even before this last phase of silence. I have tended to think carefully before speaking and to do most processing internally before verbalizing anything. Eventually God and others convinced me that I was a prophet and had the obligation as well as the need to speak in many situations. I was still careful, and still frequently begged God to let me off the hook when the speaking was hard. Being a female prophet may be Biblical, but it's definitely not Baptist (in my experience--please don't feel a need to argue this in comments). So little hammers chipped away my voice that way, all hammers who were sure that they were doing the right thing. But I finally became a bit more comfortable in my own voice. I found a tiny core of two other women with whom I could learn how to speak not just God's heart but my own. Encouraged, I began to actually speak my heart unguardedly. For whatever reasons, that turned out to be too much pressure on the relationships. Because I had fought hard to reach that level of vulnerability, I think I tried pretty hard to keep it going. But I just didn't know how. The whole thing had been a new experience for me, so I didn't have any prior knowledge to fall back on. Then it seemed that those I was most open with were telling me again and again how hurtful my words were, how destructive. So I tried less and less to keep talking. Discouraged but still sure there was something in what I had gained that I was not supposed to lose, I even tried to resume relationships with people I had long ago achieved a high level of openness with. And I totally sucked at those efforts too.
I found that I had no words that could heal the people right next to me who were in deep crisis. I did try for as long as I could but I heard from multiple people how wrong my efforts were.
First to go was the phone since I've always had some phone phobia. I completely stopped communicating by phone and let Paul relay all messages, check on people I was concerned about, etc. I realized recently that it's been at least six months since I've e-mailed anyone other than my parents about anything non-logistical or non-business-related. I have tried to keep up with at least occasional teaching at our house church because that's my responsibility, but I have definitely been in the role of teacher rather than prophet, and I have mostly relied on parroting the words of others (although very high quality words). And I have frequently just not been able to show up.
Some time back, I was doing my lectionary study online with the revgals group. I wiped away tears at a few of the current struggles shared briefly amidst sermon title talk and smiled at the warm encouragement given, and I was hit by a warm feeling: Now this is my community. Of course moments later I was chilled by the realization that I have never once posted a word, that I am a lurker there. Ouch. That's a sick concept of community.
I've started calling Paul often on difficult days and saying, "Did you have a flash of inspiration of someone who might help us? I just don't feel like I'm going to make it through the day." And for months, he has continued to say, "I'm sorry honey--I can't think of anybody to ask. Do you need me to take the rest of the day off work?" Which is of course ridiculous, but has occasionally turned out to be necessary.
I've been having dreams fairly often in which Paul and Brianna aren't part of the existing world and I find myself completely alone with no one to talk to or lean on in any way.
So, I'm sure that at least some of you have been wounded, offended, disappointed, or angered by my silence. I'm sorry. It really wasn't about you, and I really didn't feel able to do anything else, but I'm sorry. And I really am working to give my silence up for lent.
(Sigh. Hitting post before I can decide to delete.)