Eloquence is a gift. A wise word spoken in a timely way is incredibly soothing. Reams have been written about the power of the pen and tongue. More needs to be written about their powerlessness.
Have you ever heard,
• "I taught that concept all semester and they missed it on the exam. What is wrong with my students?!"
• Or, "I can't believe we're even having this issue, I preached on this last week!"
• Or, the even more common "I tried to tell her! but she won't listen."
One of the reasons the Body of Christ needs to passionately include people with developmental disabilities (when I say include, I do not mean tolerate) is we have got to stop worshipping of the power of language. We think we can change each other with crafty speech or pushing our favorite authors and preachers. We think most power lies in verbalization. Eloquence becomes a verbal battering ram and a shield. If you can out-talk your opponent, you must be right. If you can out-maneuver another verbally, you do not have to listen. If you can boil your point down to a bumper sticker, even better. The man who has the last word wins.
Nothing nixes the power of language like autism (and other developmental disabilities). And eloquence is a joke.
When I wish to relate in an impactful way with my son who has autism , I not only have had to learn every element of his body language but I have also had to become aware of mine. I have had to carefully craft my words so he can process them and I have to correctly interpret his unusual language patterns to make sure I assign them his intended meaning. Every tone and inflection is a dance. To impact him, I have to know him intimately, and this highly attuned process in turn deeply impacts me.
Imagine if this kind of attentiveness infected the Body of Christ. "Oh how they love one another," would be a common observation by outsiders. Instead we sound like Charlie Brown's teacher to the world (and to each other). "Ma mwah, ma mwha, mwha…"
I am convicted as I type.