In the hit TV comedy series Archie Bunker, one of Archie's famous lines was "Will you stifle yourself!" The Cambridge dictionary defines "stifle" in part as: "to prevent something from happening, being expressed, or continuing...." I'd like to talk about the "being expressed" part.
Whether in word or deed, we as God's children are expressionists by nature. We express ourselves in many ways – in talking, writing, singing, dancing, painting, building; and the perseverance, the enthusiasm, the dedication and commitment to bringing a thought or design to fruition (notice the root word "fruit"). God made us in his image to be creative and to bear fruit to enjoy like fruit from a tree or vine.
The word "expressionism" came into vogue during the 20th century to describe the paintings of famous artists like Van Gogh, who used a variety of odd forms and colors to convey their own perceptions of reality. Though I have never been to the Grand Canyon, the documentaries I've seen are a testament to God's expressionism in much the same way – the unusual, varied, magnificent rock formations and colors are a wonder to behold!
When Bunker said "stifle," he was using a rude method to stop someone – particularly his TV wife Edith – from openly expressing themselves. In our interactions with others we can speak either words of encouragement or discouragement. Harsh words at the wrong time can be very detrimental, but Proverbs 16:24 reads: "Kind words are like honey – sweet to the soul and healthy for the body."
I grew up in a household where we were taught to be, "seen but not heard." My father did not know I could sing until I was 13, because I was afraid to express myself – my true feelings – around him. He was like Bunker.
Politics has a patent on stifling; the educational system has a patent on stifling; but it is entirely and absolutely up to us as individuals to get our marching orders from our Creator – the one who knew us from the foundations of the earth; who sent us to this planet earth on a mission not to be conformed to the ways of the world, but to be renewed by His spirit to do His inspired will.
Have you been stifled in some way that's keeping you from expressing outwardly the goodness that God has placed in your heart? Do you stifle yourself when you have the opportunity to express God's love? Do you love yourself the way God loves you? Everyday you awaken is an indication that God still has a purpose and meaning for your life. Don't let ill-words and deeds stifle you. Press on!!
–Larry S. Buford is a Los Angeles-based writer; author of "Things Are Gettin' Outta Hand," and "Book To The Future" (both on Amazon and Barnes & Noble). His CD "One More Time" is also available online. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Contact: (213) 220-8101.