I sometimes suffer from what I call Elihu Syndrome. The name isn’t accurate to the story of the person it is named after, but it’s the name that first came into my head when thinking about it and I’ve never come up with another name to replace it. Elihu is the name of a man in the Old Testament Book of Job. Although Biblical knowledge has fallen precipitously in America, a decent number of people have at least heard of Job and might even be vaguely familiar with part of the story. Elihu shows up in the part most people don’t know about. When you ask people to recount the story of Job, those that can often give a rough retelling of the first two chapters, wherein God permits Satan to bring trials upon Job’s life and Job proceeds to lose his property, his health, and all of his children. After that comes the part of Job that most people can’t tell you anything about, which is actually the vast majority of the book. Chapters 3 through 37 (out of 42) are a long discussion between Job and some friends of his who came to him after they heard of everything that befell him. They go back and forth about topics such as justice and the nature of God, but Job’s friends turn out to not be particularly helpful, or even friendly. With Job’s friends is a man named Elihu, who during the conversation has been patiently letting his elders speak, and in Chapter 32, when he sees that Job’s friends have run out things to say, jumps in and starts laying into Job with platitudes galore, though he, along with everyone else, is silenced when God speaks out of the whirlwind in Chapter 38. That was a lot of background info just for the sake of a personality quirk of mine. Anyways, what I call Elihu Syndrome happens when I’m in a group of people (usually who are older than me) and I feel like it’s never my place to talk. Like Elihu, I’m waiting for the wiser and more insightful people to finish, but unlike Elihu, I never say anything. I just sit there, mouth shut, allowing others to speak their mind, convinced that I have nothing worthwhile to say, even when that’s not true. I’m not totally sure where my Elihu Syndrome came from, and I’m hopeful that I’ll one day break out of it, but for now it’s something I have to contend with.
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