- Gladys Childs
Exhausted in the quest? Helpful steps to uncover one's authentic voice.
In my last blog post on, "Feel like you cannot adequately serve God? Do you know your own voice?" Voice was defined as: "...a noun and a verb. Your voice is your identity (noun) and purpose (verb) in Christ." I mentioned that voices come in all shapes and sizes and each one is needed in the kingdom of God. And I discussed how important it is to know what your voice is not: "If we try to use a voice we do not have, we will not be a fully effective ambassador for Christ. In fact, we may end up being a horrible witness for Him as we try to act on our power and not God's."
Today's focus is on finding your authentic voice. For some of you this may come easy and for others it may be more difficult. If your tendency in life is to hide or cover up who you really are, then you have a bit of excavation to do to take those layers of self-protection away. No matter if the digging to find your voice is shallow or a great archeological expedition, it is when individuals recognize and accept who they are and who they are not, in all of the beauty, joy, ugliness, and brokenness, that a person's light for God truly shines. It is in a person's authenticity and sharing of their story of redemption that others are drawn to Christ.
The Path to Finding Your Voice
The easiest place to start, with finding your voice to serve God, is to consider where is your motivation ignited? Whenever I write or speak in front of audiences my heart is filled with joy. It just feels right. When I have worked with kids, it might have been fun or maybe not, but I always felt drained after the experience, and I knew every time that I was not using my gifts in the best place. And, if you read last week's blog, you know how poorly I function in nursing homes.
Now, I am not talking about never being tired or having to work hard. Even if you are fulling living into and using the voice God has given you, it is still work, there might be long hours involved, and for me, if it is after 3:00 p.m., I am going to be tired. But there is a deep and abiding joy when I am following the path and sharing my voice in the manner God has picked for me. Also, writing and speaking are just easy for me. I do have to do work to put stuff together, but I never feel like I am banging my head against a wall to write or speak, nor to do I feel like my soul is being sucked dry. You have found your voice when the use of it is life giving and comes naturally and easy to you. So, what sparks life in you and leaves you feeling energized?
Another way to discover your voice is to look at a situation or event you have overcome with God's help. That might be a place where your voice can be used for God. I know a lady who faithfully goes to church and serves people in nursing homes even though her husband does not do either one. It took her a long while to feel comfortable coming to church by herself. She used to apologize for it. Once she found a place of peace about her situation, her voice now reaches out to other ladies in similar situations, and she encourages them to continue walking the path with God.
Another method is to take a spiritual gifts inventory. See where your strengths and weaknesses lie. Accept them all. Do not feel bad over a particular weakness, everyone has weaknesses. Focus on your gifts, the top one or two. Talk to one of the ministers at your church (one who knows you fairly well if possible) and discuss your gifting and where you might best serve the church or an outside related ministry.
For those of you who might need a bit more excavation to uncover your voice, keep reading. Consider how much of what you say or do in a day comes from your thinking mind or from what you thought people wanted to hear from you and see you do -- instead of from your heart. I know people who live their entire lives this way. It makes some sense when we are younger and live under our parents influence and from our teenage strivings to fit in. But people, it needs to stop. One of the reasons I am finally writing after so many years of wanting to do so is because I kicked everyone else's voices out of my head. I live for God and God alone. If you cannot support where God is leading me, I do not care because I am going to continue going down the path God has made for me. In the end, I am going to being standing before God all alone....not with the other people trying to force me down other paths.
Need more? Maybe you witnessed something beautiful, and it took your breath away. That is where God is, He is there before your thoughts, before your words. You feel it coming from your soul. Follow that. Speak some life into that, it could be who you are in God.
To find your voice, go before your thoughts and words. Start listening to the Holy Spirit speaking within you -- the nudges, the dreams, the hopes. If you want to free your voice, start nurturing the qualities of God in yourself and others to liberate them: start with nurturing freedom, independence, and courage. That will free your real voice.
Maybe you have a traumatic past and have not fully worked through it. What are you waiting for? Fix the broken areas in your life. Our voices cannot be fully effective if we are living in the trauma of our past. Get counseling, forgive people, ask for forgiveness, and whether people forgive you or not, let go.
My mom was a cantankerous sort. She was an alcoholic and a mean drunk at that. She made a lot of times absolutely miserable. I had to work through all that garbage. When she died last year, I was left in quite a funk. I did a lot of work to come through that funk: praying, reading, journaling, and countless hours of mindless activity. What ultimately pulled me to the other side was something she said to me in 2012. The shooting at Sandy Hook elementary had occurred and we both watched as the horror unfolded on television. I was deeply troubled by all of this as my son was set to start kindergarten the upcoming year. My mom, who was not known for kind or uplifting words, said: "There is nothing you can do about." That may not seem that kind or loving to you, but out of her own broken life she saw my brokenness in that moment and gave what she could give. It was the best thing she ever said to me. I remembered the phrase this past January when I was thinking about her passing and I could hear her saying to me again, "There is nothing you can do about it." There was nothing I could do about her death. She would have wanted me to pick myself up and move on. And I did. Her words helped set me free.
Sharing our voice has the ability to transform our life by healing the brokenness within ourselves and others as well as resolve any guilt or traumas from our past which we are still clinging too. Our voice is a gift from God and is a gift of freedom and power. When life is given to our voice, our true nature emerges and there is tremendous potential to alter our path and the possibilities the future holds.
Who I am is not who you are and that is the mystery of God in all its beauty. Your true voice, which comes from God, can never be taken away. In Christ, we will not be shaken. (Psalm 16:8) And, in Isaiah 41:10 it states, "Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand." God is with you, guiding you, cheering for you to find your voice and use it.
Your voice is so much more than you think it is and could ever be. See yourself the way God sees you -- as a beautiful and worthy child of God.
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