hillary-clinton-secretary-of-stateDuring the morning, I performed some mindless cleaning and straightening of a supply closet.  Also, I listened to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton as she testified before the Senate.  Later, in the afternoon, I met in a strategy meeting with a co-worker and friend regarding changes that need to take place in our ministry.

In both incidences, I came away fascinated with the levels of communication that we all demonstrate.  Secretary Clinton shyly accepted the compliments of the Senators and Congressmen.  She choked with emotion as she recalled meeting the plane with the President to bring home the dead bodies of the four men murdered on 9/11/2012.  She angrily beat the table with her fists in response to a question poised by a Republican Senator.

Later, at our strategy meeting, some of the same emotions surfaced.  While emotions are an important part of our personalities, I wonder how often these necessary power-charged expressions become the villain.  Emotions often keep us from saying the things we mean.  Even worse emotions hinder our being able to communicate the things which need to be said.

Wedged between these events, I’d attended a Webinar explaining the appeals process in the State of Florida.  As I listened to three lawyers explain how to prepare and present a case in an appeals hearing, the application demonstrated by Mrs. Clinton and the Senators was shockingly evident.

honor guardMrs. Clinton was prepared for every question.  She accepted responsibility while denying all knowledge or the ability to make adjustments which could have saved the lives of our Ambassador and the other three men.  The Senators did not understand the events as clearly as she.  They were scattered and disjointed.  However, neither the Senators nor Mrs. Clinton presented the kind of information needed by the American public regarding the Benghazi murders.

Mrs. Clinton was pleasantly evasive.  The Democrats were obliging and congratulatory, more focused on letting people know how much they loved and appreciated the Secretary of State than participating in the Republican “witch hunt.”   Almost all Republican Senators showed controlled anger and a need to get their individual point across.

BenghaziThere was no request for a narrative regarding the timeline of the events.  The information needed and wanted by the US public was not presented.  I could sit, listening and understand all the mistakes made by these women and men as I took mental notes during the Webinar on the appeals process.

However, after the Webinar was over and I merged into a strategy meeting, I repeated all the mistakes I’d earlier recognized in others.  Setting aside my mind, I let my emotions rule the decision and processing of future needs.  I spoke emotionally, not logically.

Saying what we mean is much harder than we often recognize.  It takes discipline.  There must be preparation.  However, most of all, we must say what we mean–not what we feel.

In writing to the Romans, Paul was emotionally involved and those emotions are evident throughout his presentation. However, he did not allow his emotions over rule his presenting to the Roman church and to us a concise and valuable summary of God’s salvation plan.  He does not deviate from the primary message.  We are saved by God’s grace and only by his grace.  Our works must be an outgrowth of our love for the Lord, demonstrating the mercy and grace of our Father.

Because the mentally challenged community is not able to communicate at a mature level, it often becomes our responsibility to give voice to their needs and hurts.  It is important that we not only understand our members.  We must also make advocate for them in a prayerful and concise way, saying what we mean not what we feel.

I sat at the table. The paper placard in front of me had my name printed on it to remind people of who I am.  For about four terms, I’ve served either as an alternate or a member of a local coordinating board for transportation in our county.  I have, in fact, sat through multiple meetings like this one in three different counties in Florida.

While I serve as a citizen advocate on this board, the issues that face us are more complex than I ever imagined when I first started to attending them.  Of course, I sat dazed by the acronyms and double speak that swirled around me for the first couple of months; but I assured myself that if I continued to attend, I would gradually begin to understand what was being discussed.

Then I applied to serve as an alternate.  After being in that position for about four years, I once again assured myself that I’d soon understand everything there was to know about transportation in our county.  When the fog cleared a bit and a position on the board opened, I applied.

Unfortunately, as soon as I was seated on the board, the federal and state legislation changed drastically and I was back to square one.  I found myself flipping through the pages sent to me before each meeting wishing I could decipher the complex verbage on which I was supposed to vote.  With every new administration, there are new laws and regulations that the local boards are supposed to miraculously comprehend.

Yet, in the past few years, I find myself understanding the discussions that swirl around my head.  No longer does the talk whiz over my head, it is now filtered through knowledge and history.  In fact, at a recent committee meeting, I found that I became the historian of the group, having served longer than anyone else.  My mind recalled facts and figures that surprised me.

At times, citizens are reluctant to become a part of the process because the issues are simply too complex.  And that is usually true at the beginning.  Even after years, of study and research, administrations and local issues change as well as the laws.  Then the learning process begins again…and again…and again.

Isn’t that like our lives, however?  As soon as I thought I had my husband all figured out, the Lord would do something different and I would be left scratching my head, wondering why he had changed.  Even in my own life, I wake up and find that during the night the Lord supernaturally answered a prayer and transformed my heart.  Or I read a book and God begins to speak to me about fears and concerns that have plagued my spirit since childhood, he makes my spirit responsive to his love and the Holy Spirit does a fresh work.

Different from the complex issues that we face with governance, God’s transformations are usually simple changes that transform our behaviors, attitudes and desires.  Paul was correct when he wrote to the Romans that laws and regulations cannot make transformational changes.  That is God’s job.