“Turn and answer me, O Lord my God! Restore the sparkle to my eyes, or I will die. Don’t let my enemies gloat, saying, ‘We have defeated him!’ Don’t let them rejoice at my downfall. But I trust in your unfailing love. I will rejoice because you have rescued me (Psalm 13:3-5).”
I once had someone tell me in a professional situation,”I can tell you’re not happy here. I can tell by the way you walk.”
I initially was offended by this statement. For one, the person had hardly seen me in three months. In addition, I wondered what my ambulatory methods had to do with my performance in a job that was more mental than physical.
However, the more I thought about it the more I tried to take these comments to heart. It was not the first time someone had commented on my appearance as I walked. Someone close to me once said,”You walk like you have the weight of the world on your shoulders.”
So lately I have been trying to get more of a spring to my step. I have been out walking in the forests in my community, giving my body a good hearty push. No more of this dead man walking stuff!
While I initially had reservations about someone commenting on my body language, in all fairness our nonverbal features do communicate. I should have known better since I teach language and cultural behavior.
One of the great incidents in American history involved a nonverbal action which may have saved the country during the Revolutionary War. It involved an attempt by George Washington to convince his officers not to rebel against Congress due to this bodies lack of payment for the army’s services.
According to William Safire, the officers called a private meeting. Washington learned about it and showed up where he really wasn’t welcome and gave some remarks to persuade them against their potential insurrection.
The speech apparently didn’t have much affect, but something Washington did after it carried the day in his favor. Here is Safire’s account:
At the conclusion of his speech, which he read from pages of his own clear writing, Washington looked at his sullen audience and drew a letter from his pocket. It was from a member of Congress, he said, explaining the straits the country was in and what the body was attempting to do to pay the debts of the war. He squinted at the writing in the letter and could not go on. The audience of officers sturred in their seats, wondering what was wrong with their commander. Washington then groped in his waistcoat pocket and drew out an item that only his intimates, and very few in his audience, had seen him use. They were stunned to see him requireds to put on a pair of glasses to read the crabbed writing.
“Gentlemen”, he apologized,”you will permit me to put on my spectacles, for I have not only grown gray but almost blind in the service of my country.”
Biographer James Thomas Flexner writes.”This simple statement achieved what all Washington’s rhetoric and all his arguments had been unable to achieve. The officers were instantly in tears, and from behind the shining drops, their eyes looked with love at the commander who had led them all so far and long. Washington quietly finished reading the congressman’s letter. He knew the battle was won, and avoiding, with his instinctive sense of the dramatic, any anticlimax, he walked out of the hall…”.
Actions sometimes do speak louder than words. Erwin Lutzer emphasizes how the father of the prodigal son demonstrated his joy at the boy’s return.
Luke describes it: “But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.(Luke 15:20).”
Lutzer mentions how uncharacteristic the father’s behavior would have been in the culture of the time. So would have been clothing the boy with his own robe and ring, symbols of authority, as the father did.
I figure that sometimes I just worry too much and it shows. I tend to wear my heart on my sleeve.
In talking about the our great country and its standing with God, Lutzer mentions that in the great scheme of things we should as individuals put our presents and our futures on His loving shoulders. I think if I do that there will be more of a lively step in my gait, and a gleam in my eye.