Eradicate silence. When I hear those words I think power, strength, durability, and fear. Lots of fear. Why do I need to eradicate silence? That sounds too scary. And what does it mean?
Eradicate is a strong, powerful word. I chose it because I think that silence, the type of silence I’m talking about, is powerful. And needs a stronger verb to accompany it and hopefully subdue it.
But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Let’s first define silence. What does silence mean in our context?
For me, silence was a mode of survival. It was the default. Witness something horrific. Silence. Experience trauma. Silence. Find out a painful secret that affected numerous people. Silence. My struggle with depression and suicide. Silence.
It’s how I coped. It felt like if I didn’t talk about it, share it, or tell it, I would not only protect myself but also protect those that might be affected if I didn’t keep silent. And so on and on I went. Adding to my pile of things that I kept silent about.
To the point that my depression and my desire to take my life were so strong that I needed to start saying things out loud. Thus I began my journey of eradicating silence. I’m still on it. And will be, forever.
So what is silence to us as a Wari Tumas community?
Silence in our context perpetuates shame and loneliness in our individual and communal brokenness. This could be shame and loneliness in mental health, in your image, in addiction, in a struggling faith, or a struggling marriage. I struggle with depression but the way I grew up, it was seen as a weakness in character, something that I made up, so I felt shame about my struggle, and because of my shame, I struggled with depression alone.
I have chosen silence out of fear of offending, causing conflict, or being labeled (fill in the blank). Sometimes we keep silent to keep up appearances and look perfect, to keep from becoming “other”. (Check out my blog on perfection as a missionary kid). But sometimes we keep silent because we think we are completely and utterly alone in our struggles.
That aloneness in my story isolated me more from my community and hindered my relationships. By choosing silence, I was imprisoned in my traumas and brokenness. And I was alone.
Eradicate is a scary word
Eradicate means to completely destroy and remove something from existence.
When I think of the word eradicate – I think diseases. I looked at the World Health Organization’s website and there are only two diseases that are considered eradicated. The smallpox being one. But smallpox still exists, we have to take a vaccine for it as babies. We’ve just prevented it to the point that it’s very rare to have the disease naturally.
When I think of “eradicate” in our context, this is the definition I think of. I want us to eradicate silence that traps us in our brokenness, that chains us to our pain, grief, trauma and isolates us from God and community. I want us to strip away and destroy the habits and norms that keep us chained. Silence (in the context of silence surrounding brokenness) isn’t eliminated from our world, it sometimes protects us. Sometimes we need that vaccine to keep us from getting the disease, a vaccine that protects us from further pain or trauma.
If you could eradicate silence – make it so rare that you can live a happy healthy life, would you do it?
Choosing into the Journey
To eradicate is a choice. To diminish and destroy silence around pain and trauma— that takes a lot of effort, pain, and grit. And Durability.
One thing that I’ve learned in my process of eradicating the silence of my pain and trauma is that it will be a never-ending process and I need a lot of strength and determination to get through it. Eradicating silence is going to take a long time, maybe forever, and we will have to keep choosing to. Only then can we mend our brokenness and begin healing.
So why do we need to eradicate silence?
Silence about our brokenness disconnects us from our relationships and God, and that’s the silence that we need to eradicate. We need to eradicate the idea that silence is better than showing weakness, silence is better than showing or feeling emotions, silence is better than being uncomfortable or imperfect.
Only when we can vocalize our brokenness, our pain, can we start to go on the journey of healing. A journey to understand and accept ourselves fully for who we are. When we start that journey of vulnerability and authenticity, we invite healing and community. So why do we need to eradicate silence? I want to eradicate silence so that I can heal and become my best and authentic self so that I can flourish in my relationships with God and with others.
I want that. I so desperately want that. Do you?
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