To my soapbox:
It’s not you, and it’s not me. It’s both of us.
You have become my favorite poison, my drug of choice, what I turn to when I’m angry or hurt. You cheer me on as I shout over the sound of stories and heartbeats, real people with real stories that you’ve encouraged me not to listen to.
When I’m hurt or angry because someone says something stupid (which, on the internet, happens daily), you egg me on. You tell me to monologue. You tell me to preach. And in doing so, I lose the people I want to connect with most.
I have sacrificed empathy at your altar. I have given up listening and compassion to show up at your door. You have allowed me to believe that being right is more important than being kind. And I have become exactly like those I cannot respect.
Whenever I’m with you, I forget that there are real people on the other end of my words. Real people with real stories that really shape them and their entire lives up until the moment they share with me. I don’t know what brought them there, and I can’t assume where they’ve been.
My words need to be less about me, and more about the people I am connecting with. It is less about talking and more about a two-way street. I don’t want to talk at people, I want to talk with people.
In the last few weeks I have seen several people get on their soapbox. And I wanted to criticize them for not even paying attention to who they were talking to, but I remembered: how often do I do that? How often do I just talk, no matter who I’m talking to or where we are?
I. Am. No. Better.
In this season, I am finding that being teachable means putting down my shield and really listening: I’m letting go of the fear that if I listen, I will be swayed by anyone who speaks. And I am finding that I really am capable of discerning the voices in my life – the ones that speak with truth versus the ones that speak out of bitterness. And I am realizing that being teachable is equally as valuable as being the one teaching.
So, soapbox: preaching is for the pulpit. I created you, but now it’s time for me to set you aside and choose to listen rather than rant. There are more important things than platform. Words have no meaning if they don’t have ears to listen.