Tuesday, April 14, 2009


For as long as I can remember, I've heard voices. The voices of anyone. And everyone. Friends. Mentors. Authors. Teachers. Family Members. I'm an equal-opportunity listener. The voices' owners likely have no idea that I hear them. They never intended to inflict guilt or expectations upon me. I do that on my own.

It's a curse. And while I know that everyone, to one extent or another, entertains voices, I've wondered lately if my condition is more serious.

The voices and I have cohabitated for so long now, I didn't realize they were a problem until the last year or two. As I left various roles and opted for a simpler life, the voices became more noticeable. They were louder, sometimes so loud that I could hear nothing else. At times they virtually screamed, rendering me useless.

I love this simpler life, one focused solely on family and domesticity. But without my former roles and the occasional accolades which accompanied them, I began to feel small and insignificant. Like the layers of an onion gradually peeled away, I sat exposed and raw. 

God, in His sovereignty, knew that it was time we do battle with the voices, some of whom I've toted around since childhood. And while the voices have always been with me, the mouths and messages have always been tailored to fit my season of life. I guess I have designer-voices like that. Couture actually. Custom-made just for me. 

As I've mentioned before, I've been home full-time for two years. Like many of you, I'm forced to do things every day that I'm not good at. Things I don't want to do. Repetitive tasks that no one sees. 

And as I task (or fail to task), I hear "this season's" voices. The voices of all those books I've read on mothering and home-managing and being a woman of God. The voices of older, wiser women who were much better at balancing, at organizing, at preparedness. Or of younger, energetic women who are better at doing life than I am. Voices who only wanted to help and encourage. But instead, they pummeled me again and again with the reality that I am not doing all that I should be doing. Voices who remind me of how inconsistent and undisciplined and haphazard I am. 

And I, in response, am no longer encouraged or eager or inspired. I am guilty and weary and less-than. Because I've tried, through sheer inspiration and willpower, to do what those many, many, countless voices have told me to do or be. And I have failed virtually every time.

I love the book, Blue Like Jazz, by Donald Miller. Toward the end of the book, Miller reflects on a session he had with a counselor. He too was tormented by voices and self-condemnation. His counselor told him that he was "letting other people name him, letting others decide his value." That his value needed to come from God. And God just wanted him to "receive his love and to love himself too."

Miller goes on:
And what she {the counselor} was saying was true. I knew it was true. I could feel that it was true. But it also felt wrong. I mean, it felt like it was an arrogant thing to do, to love myself, to receive love. I knew that all the kicking myself around, all the hating myself, was not coming from God, that those voices were not God whispering in my ear, but it felt like I had to listen to them; it felt like I had to believe the voices were telling me the truth...

...'I know God loves me.' And I did know, I just didn't believe. I had heard it before, but hearing that stuff didn't silence the voices...I needed to believe it was true. I needed something to tell the voices when they started chanting at me.
(emphasis mine)

For Miller, he took this problem, that had never seemed like a spiritual problem, and he began to pray about it. And in time, God turned his knowing into believing.

And that's where I want to be. At the point of believing. To be a girl who is finally free to receive love and to actually love herself

And I haven't arrived at that place. I'm in that crazy netherworld somewhere between knowledge and belief. Some days I'm closer to freedom than bondage. But on any given day, I return to my familiar shackles and the accompanying chanting.

I know that someday I will hear one Voice and only one. And that my own voice will no longer chant condemnation and guilt, but will instead sing in beautiful harmony with its Maker... 

But I am not there yet.


  1. Thank you so much for writing this post! I'm right there with you! My little group of 4 women that I meet with weekly have been talking about this exact thing! You put it so beautifully. Thank you for sharing the quote from Miller. Very insightful!
    What an encouragement today!
    Thanks Jennifer jemikaha.blogspot.com

  2. Great post! You often put into words many of the same things I am feeling. :)

  3. Ok, since you're not there yet... let me add this voice to the mix, but make sure you put it on high volume so it drowns out all those other voices (or just imagine my voice when I'm at my wits' end with the kids and that should come close), also keep in mind I have seen you at your worst so I know what I am talking about: "You are an AMAZING woman, a loving and fun mommy, a faithful wife, and the most INCREDIBLE friend a girl could ever ask for. You are so funny you make my sides hurt. You're willing to do the dos-si-dos with me to the MamaMia Dance Party (no other friend would do this!!). You are there when I need a listening ear, and you're willing to walk the road with me as I get my craziness worked out. You've been through many valleys, yet you are always striving for the mountaintops. You are more than a conquerer! God loves you, and Jesus has already gone before you! So go put on some big boots in Molly Shannon style, and strut around the house, 'cause sometimes being a gal requires wearing boots we can never fill - but we gotta have fun trying"

  4. I hear the voices, too. It's comforting to know that they are there for the professional woman, as well as us s-a-h-m's. Allowing God alone to name me, to know me- is such a struggle for me. I get so worried about who I am or what others think or who I'm not. I'm sure life would be much simpler if I'd just let it go. Christ promised it would be. So, sister, I'm walkin' the path to.
    The Wanna Be @

  5. This post beautifully says what I feel but have trouble communicating outside of my own head. Thank you for helping me with the words I have struggled for; truly I thank you.

    I knew I would enjoy your blog when I stumbled upon it just a week ago. I started with your "About Me Unabridged" ... made me laugh (it almost could describe me!) ... and now you brought tears to my eyes.

  6. You are sharing what so many of us try to ignore in our own heads!! I am so sorry I don't tell you often enough what a wonderful women, wife, mom, daughter-in-law, friend, etc. you are. Yes, God is the only one that can truly mold your heart and mind. But, it is also helpful to know you are loved by others just because you are you. Not only do I love you, but I also respect and admire you!! I pray those voices never win. God is louder than they are!!

  7. You may not see this tonight, but perhaps in the morning your eyes will read it and your mind will grasp it and your heart will believe it, and your ears . . . well, this voice will get through. YOU ARE LOVED. YOU ARE ADMIRED. YOU ARE OF GREAT VALUE. YOU ARE PRECIOUS. YOU ARE TALENTED. YOU ARE AN HONEST, REAL, LOVING, INSTRUCTIVE MOTHER. YOU ARE AN HONORING, REAL, HONEST, LOVING WIFE. YOU ARE A TRULY SPECIAL DAUGHTER. But, hey, I'm just your mom. Imagine what God feels about you!!!

  8. Ah sweetie, do you need to come over for some play time? I have wine!

  9. Love this post. I've read your blog for awhile, but this one really got me. Like you I love Paris, loved Blue Like Jazz, love my children, love God. Thank you for your honesty and your lovely writing. What other books spoke to your heart?

  10. This the first time at your post and i want to tell you are so loved for who you are not for what you can do. And guess what you can so some wonderful things like communicate , organize , be a wonderful friend, instruct us in how to organize( I just did my earrings and didn't use ice cube trays, wish I did) you are a repurposer ( shopping second-hand) and so many more and I don't even know you yet. Remember where the mind goes the man follows, everday tell yourself the truth.


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