Where have all the shrinking violets gone?

Rev. Raymond Maher

Ed, my old neighbour in Saskatchewan, called yesterday to wish me a happy birthday. “At your age, you should celebrate with fireworks and with the musical tribute of a socially distanced Scottish pipe band,” my old neighbour said, mocking my liking for bagpipe music. He also said that because I am so old, it’s no time for me to be a shrinking violet about my age but that I should boldly broadcast it to the world. I assured Ed the world already has too much loud and personal posturing for attention.

I asked Ed, “Where have all the shrinking violets gone? Our nightly news is filled with endless folks complaining and protesting. It seems there are few, if any, shy, modest folks around anymore. Maybe the folks who do not like to attract attention to themselves have always been few and far between. There are too many hindsight answers on what was done. There is too much self-focused broadcasting about how things need to be done instead. Many claim they know best and things would be better if they were in charge.”

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Ed challenged me, saying people have a right to speak out and criticize as they see fit. He believes I want people to be quiet, like shrinking violets, instead of screeching like a bagpipe. I do agree with Ed that some people who give their two cents, give what is worth a nickel or more. Everyone has worthwhile knowledge to share, but too often, personal knowledge puffs people up in pride and arrogance and is not held in tension with the love of others.

Too often, knowledge divides because knowledge is never all there is to know. Knowledge is meant to humble us into knowing we need to learn more. True knowledge is built upon our learning from and with others before God. Only God knows all, but He doesn’t give us all answers. He gives the fullness of unconditional love that is patient and merciful for all sinners, championed on Earth in the modest and humble life and death of Jesus, His Son.

1 Corinthians 8:1-2 says, “We know that we all possess knowledge. Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up. The man who thinks he knows something does not yet know as he ought to know.”

It is time for us to be still and know that we have God, who is our refuge and strength. It is not easy to get people to stop talking and be still and allow God to be God. Psalm 46:10 says, “Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations. I will be exalted in the Earth.”

Perhaps we protest and talk so loudly because we feel out of control in that things appear to be going in the wrong direction. Instead of trusting in God, we try to find some refuge or strength in ourselves or others.

Trusting God means we may not have the answers we want, but we do have God’s unconditional love now and in heaven to come. God is our refuge and strength so that we can be still and peacefully listen to Him.

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