We all have one. But what is it?
Is our voice simply the cadence that crosses our lips as a melody of words? Is it simply the words created by complex vibrations of air across our vocal chords? The rounding of our mouth and the intentional placement of our tongue against our teeth?
Or is it something more? Something intrinsic to our being, our personality, our soul. If voice is merely a physical process then it would be easy to define, but voice is so much more. Voice is the audible and sometimes silent expression of self.
That is why finding your voice and sharing it with the world is crucial. Only there is a problem:
Fear silences our voice.
How does this happen and why? More important, how do we overcome fear and learn to release our voice into the world? How do learn to speak our truth?
These are complicated questions. Questions I can not answer in a single blog post. However, I have asked them, and I have sought their answers. I had to. Because left unchecked, fear has a way of silencing me.
I did not grow up at a time in American history when voice and story were esteemed. It seems that today, the words voice and story are used with such cavalier frequency that they have become about as unique as a penny lying on the street.
You know the one. The penny most see and overlook because it is a dime a dozen. The same penny that a starving person or an innocent child picks up with reverence, joy, and gratitude.
I wish, I had been raised in a generation that saw the study of voice and story as something other than an academic exercise. Maybe things would have been different. But as they were, I lived in fear of speaking my truth, of asking questions, of sharing my joy and my pain. I was afraid of rejection because I did not think the world would find me lovely.
So, I hid. I buried my true voice.
The voice that yearns for deep soul connections. The voice that wants to listen and be heard. The one that thinks beauty and grace are two of the most stunning gifts in the universe. The one that brings lost puppies home, that loves the gentle nuzzle of a kitten, and a belly laugh that makes you weep. The one that more than anything craves to love and to be loved.
I buried that voice underneath a pile of rubble and falsehood. I became someone I was not and tried desperately to create a voice I thought the world would prefer. What I created was a sound so discordant with truth that I repelled the very things I craved. I repelled truth, loyalty, and intimate connections. I repelled love.
Fear does that. Fear silences truth and bombards us with the noise of lies. Lies so ugly, that even in a crowd, everyone keeps us at arms length. Fear and falsehood are not attractive.
But fear is real, and it is strong. Fear convinces us that it is standing in the gap to protect us. Fear wants us to believe we are ugly and that our truth–our voice–is not wanted. Fear wants us to believe we need it to protect us. Fear is hard to conquer because it is so insidious, showing up as a friend only to invade our souls as a cancer. But there is good news…
Fear does not have to silence your voice!
Three Steps to Keep Fear from Silencing Your Voice:
1. Buy into the truth.
Truth is the most compelling argument against fear. Truth tells fear who it is, and it reminds us of who we are. Learn the truth. Identify it. Stay rooted in it. The best place to begin discovering truth is by reading truth. Read God’s Word daily. Memorize it. Write it on sticky-notes and plaster them throughout your home and office.
2. Put fear in its place.
Assess your circumstances based on truth rather than fear. Ask: What’s the worst thing that will happen if I share my voice, if I expose who I am in this situation? Nine times out of ten when I do this I realize that the worst case scenario I envision isn’t worthy of the energy and fear I am giving it. Asking this question, reminds me that fear is a liar. Sharing my voice won’t kill me. In fact, it does the opposite. Sharing my voice gives me life. It will do the same for you.
3. Practice in safe places.
I began sharing my voice and my story in small doses and in safe places. For me, this was with a godly counselor. My counselor encouraged me to extend that trust to my husband and a few close friends. Eventually, I found the strength to open myself up completely to the people I was most afraid would reject me.
You know what I discovered? LOVE. Love that wanted a place to land. Love I had rejected. When fear silences our voice, it is impossible to fully give love and receive love.
Although it was the hardest thing I ever did, I am grateful I not only found my voice, but that I learned to share it. I am grateful for the truth that my voice matters, that my story matters. And that there is room in the world for both.
Your voice matters. Your story matters.
What lie is fear telling you? What can you do this week to step out of hiding? Leave a comment and let me know how I can pray for you on this journey toward freedom and rewriting your story.