"Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you." -Ephesians 4:31-3
I read this verse this week, and it made me start thinking about the word clamor. I imagine a room full of kids running around and screaming. I also remember the zombies in the movie World War Z, if you've ever seen it. First of all, those are probably the most frightening zombies in the history of zombies. And second, they are ridiculously fast. Scary fast. If there was ever a group raising some clamor, it would be those zombies. Climbing and stampeding all over each other and toppling over concrete walls. Definitely clamorous.
A vehement expression of desire or dissatisfaction. A loud uproar.
I thought about how maybe clamor isn't always something that comes at us from the outside. Maybe it can rise up from within us and wreak havoc from the inside out.
I have to confess that I've been guilty of creating my own kind of internal uproar.
I do this when I can't stop thinking about what I don't have. When I am consumed by how to get what I want. When I hold myself to unrealistic standards that I can never meet. When I tear myself down with cruel thoughts no one else can hear. When I struggle to forgive. When I am easily angered.
All these thoughts can raise a clamor in me that could send those World War Z zombies toppling over themselves in the opposite direction.
And it's only a matter of time before I have trouble containing such a ruckus. It comes out in snaps toward my husband and frustration toward my daughter. It leaks onto my perspective, making it confusing and negative. It topples over onto my friendships, making me a bit more timid and closed-off than I should be. And it tramples over my work, causing me to act out of fear instead of faith.
The sad part is that I think I'm doing some sort of strange good for myself by being in such a state of turmoil, as if it will help me achieve these desires that clamor for my attention. As if I'm somehow cultivating while I clamor. But truly, I'm only hindering when I become overrun with desire for things I have not been blessed with, when I allow dissatisfaction in myself and my circumstances to grow wild. I'm hindering peace and joy and growth.
Just like I don't want to be visibly slanderous and bitter on the outside, I don't want a clamorous heart on the inside. Just like I want to be forgiving and tender-hearted toward others, I want to be at peace within myself, too.
The second part of that verse tells me how to keep the clamor at bay, and perhaps even rise above it. I can learn to be kind to myself. To let go of bitterness. To give grace. To forgive myself for falling short.
Seeking contentment in this place where I am, as it is right now, brings peace. Discovering joy in who I am here, in this present, with all my flaws as well as strengths, can quiet all the straining.
I think another thing that helps me is taking time for myself. I need time alone to read something encouraging or pray or do something relaxing. Really valuing this time is something that I don't prioritize often, but when I do, I find that it's so much easier to calm the chaos.
I'll be honest, I haven't quite figured out how to master this. But I'm going to keep working at it.
Because there will always be plenty of clamor on the outside to deal with that I'll have no control over.
But at least it will be easier to handle when there isn't any coming from inside me.
"You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace..." -Isaiah 55:12
*definitions of clamor taken from dictionary.com*