Most mornings I can be found at the small, corner table in my school cafeteria. A book, cup of coffee and a computer routinely accompany me as I pass the morning hours. And I enjoy their company. A lot. The stillness lends me refreshment and energy I’ve learned to rely on. It’s comfortable. It’s sacred.
Yet most mornings I pass up on opportunities to interact with someone I haven’t talked to in awhile. As they fry an egg or sit down after an early class, I’ll lean back with my coffee and momentarily ignore the book and computer vying for my attention. I debate whether to go ask this person how his semester is going. I deliberate if I should sit down and see how home has been since we last talked. Maybe what I just read a few minutes ago is exactly what he needs to hear. Maybe he just needs someone to listen.
But then the sentence I was reading catches my eye again. The article that appeared promising begins to dominate my peripherals. And I remember that I’m content.
I love spending time with friends. I cherish conversations with others. But for those introverted mornings, the bubble labelled “My Comfort Zone” is selfishly left intact.
Last week I talked with some friends about faith through actions and faith through words. Some felt strongly they should let their faith be seen through their actions and words should be avoided altogether. Coming off judgmental or unloving is the worst possible outcome, so verbal expression is better left abandoned.
I’m not sure I agree.
I definitely understand the logic behind the sentiment. Today, it seems that people who are making a vocal stand in their faith or beliefs always seem to end up in hot water. But the negative examples, the examples of how not to do it, are often the only ones witnessed. And thus, the reaction is to not speak at all. To keep words dormant for fear of hypocrisy or judgment erupting. To hope someone simply sees our actions. And to leave it at that.
I think about what Jesus did and what He’s given me, and I can’t justify only living by actions. How am I supposed to love others the way He did if I’m unwilling to use words? How am I supposed to show I care if I simply watch the opportunities pass me by while I leisurely sip my coffee? I’ve had all morning for complacency, comfort and investing in myself. Shouldn’t some of that time be spent on another person?
And words are tough. Words bring responsibility and constant scrutiny. People look a little more closely if condemnation is present but love is absent. I’m more comfortable staying silent, and I’m not particularly good with coming up with what to say on the fly, anyways. Words aren’t requested by my book or computer during my morning routine.
I want to think actions are enough because actively engaging those occasions with others isn’t my strong suit. I wish I could justify my mornings of absent intentionality and pure, selfish introversion. But I’m convinced I’m called to a little more than a passive pursuit, void of tangibly sharing with others what God is trying to teach me.
Actions speak louder than words, but when founded in love and integrity, actions and words undoubtedly speak the loudest. I think I’ll invite both of them instead of my comfort zone and computer tomorrow morning.
Flickr photo (cc) by JosephGilbert.org