There is a natural need in us to express ourselves. Some use words to do that. Others use actions or talents. But we all express ourselves in some fashion. I was recently reminded that we need to speak because we are created in the image of God, and he was not silent. He spoke worlds into being. He spoke to his prophets. He called people out and expected responses. We, too, are called to express our innermost beings. It is built into us to communicate. So we shouldn't allow others to take that away.
When I've given up something I love because others have inadvertently hurt me, I need to forgive and let it go. Especially since it was inadvertent. Only by forgiving them (in my heart and head) do I have the freedom to move on. In the past year I have re-started an activity that I had stopped because the joy had gone out of it based on some comments. It was not a huge deal in my life, but I was finding that I missed it. Despite missing the activity, it took a concentrated decision on my part that the comments were not going to play in my head and take away my enjoyment while I engaged in the activity. It was freeing to say that the comments did not define me (which they never did) and that I could have fun at something without it mattering to those speakers. It was a little thing, but it was a step in the right direction.
What about those times when it has been more intentional to silence you....forgive then as well. Remember that those people are not who validate you. Jesus is. And he has found you worthy, so don't hold onto their words or their judgments or your need for their approval. Give it to the one who says, "You are worthy and you are heard." I know that it is easier said than done. But I also know that forgiveness is more for our benefit than theirs, and there is a freedom in allowing God to heal those wounds.
In the matters where circumstances have chiseled away at time and voice, it is more difficult. The circumstances may not change despite the decision to re-gain one's voice. It may be necessary to redefine one's voice to the circumstances. Remember when I said I was weary of moving? And remember back at the first of the year when I felt that God was having me wait for something? Well, God has a way of moving circumstances. This is the first year in five years that German is not changing job roles in October necessitating a major if not international move! We were looking forward to a quiet autumn with no change. And then...our landlord notified us that he *might* need the house back for a family member. And we waited and prayed since we have grown roots and ministries. And then the *might* became *definitely* and we continued to wait and pray. And just when I was ready to despair, we found a house. A few miles move will allow us to continue with routines and ministries. But it is a still a move. And I am still weary. (And I had just started writing this, so I asked God what on earth he was trying to teach). And you know what, I don't have the answers. But I know that this time around, I don't intend to let the circumstances take away the thing I love that I was just regaining. It is a choice. And I am trusting that God has something waiting for us there that we could not have here. Something that will further my roots and my ministries.
As I make the intentional decision to regain my voice, I have found that goals help, but can also be demoralising. Set realistic goals. Then be gentle if you need to adjust them. I intended to start writing at least once a week, thinking that was reasonable. But it wasn't. My family's needs in this new place were greater than my need to write. And so I haven't met my goal. And I could be frustrated, or I can be gentle. I'm choosing gentle. I will continue to plan and set goals, but realise that family is first. (And as they get more accustomed to me disappearing to write, maybe I can write more). May I encourage you that you won't write an epic novel the first time out, you won't speak to an arena of people, you won't sing an aria until you've sang those first notes, but that is okay. We are intending to communicate for a long time. And you (and I) will build our skills as we engage in our skills. Don't give up--even when it is tough and circumstances get in the way. I won't give up either.
So that's where I'm at. Finding ways to forgive and regain some voice. Finding ways around the circumstances. Choosing that I will find my voice and my talents. And trusting that God is leading because he is a God who communicates and doesn't leave us on our own.
Once God has spoken;
twice have I heard this:
that power belongs to God,
and that to you, O Lord, belongs steadfast love.
For you will render to a man
according to his work.