No filter...

I've been addicted to Spotify lately, and yes, I'm one of those who pays just so I can avoid the ads and interruptions. Mostly, I've been listening to radio stations based on some of my favorite songs. This morning, on my way to campus, one of my favorite artists, Audra McDonald, showed up with a song by John Mayer called "My Stupid Mouth." I fell in love with her all over again, not simply because of the amazing tamber in her voice, but also because the song puts perfectly to words how I feel most every day of my life.

My stupid mouth has got me in trouble. I said too much again...

Yup. That's me. I don't care what the situation is — somewhere along the way, my filter died, disintegrated, and was destroyed. I can be in a meeting, a class, heck, even at church, and all of a sudden, out of the blue, something that was in my mind for only a nanosecond finds its way across my vocal cords, over my tongue, and out of my mouth. I get this look on my face that evinces my thoughts far too vulnerably: Oh shit, did I really just say that?!?! Dammit!!!

The impact of this reality has a far reach. I get paranoid. I'm worried that I've offended someone. I feel the glare of someone around me, and I retreat into my own little world, putting a piece of invisible duct tape over my mouth. I glance around, hoping to not catch the eye of someone who heard my unfiltered voice, scared of how they might look at me for being such an idiot.

Most of the time, I never see anyone else looking at me. Once in awhile, I'll catch someone's stare, but it's not an unfriendly one. Instead, it's a smile. It's an affirmation that what I just said really was funny or brilliant or thoughtful. I really didn't have anything to be ashamed of or feel guilty about. I'm not as dumb or thoughtless as I made myself feel or thought myself to be. In fact, I'm not even alone. Others have told me of their similar feelings.

Apparently, feeling as if one's voice isn't significant is not as uncommon as I once thought. We all struggle with communicating in ways that are both authentic to who we really are and sensitive to the perspectives of others. Worse, we don't know how to let others know that, even if we disagree with them, their opinions, feelings, and thoughts are more than valid. They're sacred. They're something to be honored and respected. If our thoughts are part of who we are, and if we as individuals have intrinsic value and worth, then the words we speak share in that worth. It's not easy for us to believe, and therefore, it's not easy for us to convey that reality to others, espeically when we're offended or annoyed by what they have to say. But if we're treat others the way we want to be treated, if we're to love others as ourselves, then we need to honor them as often as possible.

It's good to know that, even in those times when I have no filter, even when I feel that it doesn't, my voice matters...