Speaking Up -(and water poem)

james river VAWe all have different views at different times in life – and sometimes people can only grow when they see a new angle – which may involve someone taking the effort to speak up! In this poem about water, the writer (Robert Fletcher) cleverly asks what someone sees when they look into water:


When you look into water, do you 

see yourself in the reflection

or do you see a

place where life flows through- 

like sun flows through a

window on a hot summer day?

Do you see something that gives life to every thing

in the world?

Or do you see a place to go swimming?

I like how this poem touches upon the way we can all see the same thing in different ways. Like for the person on a hot day, water is for swimming, but for the person in need of hydration, water is for drinking.  Similarly, in other areas of life – there may be topics – or situations – that have a few different ways of being viewed – depending on function, where we are at, and WHAT we are able to “see.”

This summer I felt led to speak up about two things. Both times this involved effort and precious time invested in writing.  My GOAL for speaking up in both cases was just to RAISE AWARENESS – because I firmly believe that “we cannot fix what we do not see” – and we “cannot improve if we do not know what to target.” Speaking up has MUCH VALUE because we ARE our ‘brothers’ keeper’ – and at times it may be our personal view that is key to someone else’s growth and health!  Just like I cannot read a label or book that is pressed to my face – many times people are in situations that are too close – too raw – or too complex to see different angles – and we can help a new angle to be viewed.

Of course there are times when we should NOT speak up (times when it is none of our business, we are not the right person for the situation, we are have the limited view, or we are seeing the speck in someone else’s eye while ignoring the big log in our own eye…) – and sometimes speaking up is a form of meddling and will only cause you trouble as this Proverb notes: “Getting involved in an argument that is none of your business is like going down the street and grabbing a dog by the ears.

However, too often we become passive out of good intentions!  Or we misunderstand healthy confronting and are uncomfortable with this healthy tension. Some may fall into a passive mode of not wanting to hurt feelings or sound rude – but while doing so – we miss out on helping someone grow – or we rob a situation from having the chance to be improved from our input! I know there is a fine line (and often confused line) between what is judging and what is offering HELPFUL CRITICISM, but helpful criticism is tough love!  And helpful criticism is motivated by love AND concern – and even though it is hard to give and/or get (at first), it is essential for growth!

And think about this – NOBODY EVER came back later to say, “Hey, thanks so much for never speaking up about anything in my life! I really appreciate that you passively let me stay comfortable – because now all these years later, the mess I have to deal with is extra meaty – so thanks a lot for NOT speaking up!”

So keep this in mind – there are times when we need to look the other way and surrender the situation to God or someone else.  Thankfully we do NOT have to shoulder the burden for every problem we discern or are privy to. But if you feel led to speak up – know that God will lead and provide what you need.

When I look into water, I also see it useful for bathing purposes! And like a cleansing bath, there are times when speaking up is a way of allowing the SANITIZING TRUTH to be exposed; times when a situation may only be improved or helped when some raw and messy things are highlighted.

washing with water

So mind your own business at times- of course – but also know that occasionally you may have to speak up – and it will likely have a nice, helpful rippling effect in someone’s life!

Teaching Tips:

~Talk about the value of speaking up- and how the mess and risk is sometimes the small price we pay to really change and invest in the health of others.

~ Talk about how speaking up may lead to personal attack – when well-meaning folks may criticize YOU for speaking up – discuss what ad hominem is and ways to combat this with assertiveness and strength.

~Talk about ways to cope with the “mess” of speaking up (having good support systems, pondering the path, knowing the long-term fruits that come from it, etc.).

~Talk about how having true self-awareness is essential for wellness.  How does one become self-aware? Many times objective self-awareness only comes from the contributions of others.

~ Talk about how sometimes speaking up may be from faulty motives – and so it is wise to seriously consider your MOTIVE any time you are speaking up.

~Talk about the dangers of choosing “peace at any price” – which is not true peace!!