My New Motto – It’s Shocking

Flannery O’Connor said, “To the hard of hearing you shout and for the blind you draw large and startling figures.” Her startling Southern Gothic writing is true to her conviction. I don’t know if she did, but it makes sense that she might have appreciated the artist, Edvard Munch, who vowed to paint people who “breathed and had emotions, that suffered and loved.” As a person who breathes and has emotions, who suffers and loves, and who is sometimes hard of hearing and blind, there are times when I need to be approached with shouts – or screams. That’s part of the reason my new motto is, “Shut up and pray.”

I don’t use my motto on other people, of course. Telling someone else to “shut up” is rude. Growing up, I was taught that uttering those six little letters was as offensive and vulgar as the worst four-letter profanity. To this day, “shut up” is a command that shocks me, makes me cringe. It’s a scream to me even when hissed in a whisper. That’s what makes it effective on my dull, deluded self.

Sometimes I need to cringe. Like when my mouth is spewing frustrations, fears and anxieties. More often than not, I only spew internally, dialoguing with a self that is engaging in futile situational dissection. Shut Up is the lasso that reins in stampeding thoughts, and like an animal resigned to the restraint, I am calmed enough to overcome the blindness. Here, my blindness is thinking that that the shock of Shut Up is all I need. No, the second half of my motto is absolutely essential.

It’s not enough just to shut up; I must pray. Praying puts me at the feet of the One who utters words obeyed by wind and rain. The lasso can be loosed; I am held here by awe. His words are, “Be still and know that I am God.” I am convinced that I benefit from my strident self admonishments, because I am even more convinced of the benefits of being admonished by the God of the universe. I may scream, He makes me still.


6 thoughts on “My New Motto – It’s Shocking

  1. I loved the pairing of O'Connor and Munch. Excellent. You write beautifully. You could be a reformed Ann Lamot.We had a great time yesterday. Thanks for sharing your lives with us.Love you,Gail

  2. "Howitt," I DID get your comment – your way too kind comment! (I owe you much gratitude for introducing me to Flannery O'Connor, BTW.) The "Reformed Anne Lamott" – that's a pretty lofty goal. Thanks for your encouragement. It means so much coming from such a very talented friend – whom we LOVE having in our home. You really need to start your own "Short Story" blog. Really!

  3. Hey there, Bri. I read this a couple weeks ago and "Shut up and pray!" still reverberates in my mind when I am tempted to be anxious about something (which is just about all the time). I also think of Phil. 4:6: "DO NOT BE ANXIOUS about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication WITH THANKSGIVING let your requests be made known to God." Love you!!

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