Today’s Wednesday’s What Not is about finding our voice and allowing others to do the same. We all need to feel we have a voice. We all need to know are heard. We may not always be aware of that need, but internally, subconsciously even, we desire to be known. I don’t necessarily mean famous. I mean known – that we would be known and accepted as we are.
We also need to have outlets to express ourselves. We may find our “voice” through painting or other forms of art where we can say things with the stroke of a brush as it sweeps across a canvas. We might not ever be able to articulate in words what we say in the art we create.
Maybe we see an image through the camera lens and are able to capture it in a way others cannot envision. We show others what we see and what moves us by sharing our photos. Even the images we are drawn to capture tell a bit about who we are and what inspires us.
We may find our voice writing lyrics or singing music that makes us come alive and helps us to say things in a poetic fashion. The stringing together of words and melody to create beautiful songs that sink into our souls becomes an extension of who we are.
For some, drama and theatre are a way to be heard, to express ourselves by drawing upon our own emotions to portray characters in a compelling fashion.
Maybe we dance and find ways to express ourselves through movement and activity. Any inner turmoil or angst is expressed with a flurry of motion. In more serene moments, we create beautiful forms and fluid movement that almost appear magical.
There are countless ways for us to express ourselves which allow us to get our feelings and emotions out in a healthy fashion. The above are just a few examples of ways we can do that.
Historically, I have expressed myself by talking. If we need proof, I have the comment section of my grade school report cards to attest to that fact. I’m guessing digging out the old report cards won’t be necessary. Certainly, if we’ve had a conversation with one another you’re likely to believe me.
Stretching all the way back to third grade, my very favorite teacher of all time, Mrs. Harlan-Marks, cast me in the role of “Mrs. Fast” for our school play. I loved it. My character had to talk a lot and extremely fast. Portraying Mrs. Fast could barely count as acting, since I really was pretty much just being myself – only this time up on a stage for all the parents and faculty.
Being such a talker is why I became a bit alarmed when I first started reading the Bible and read all the verses about the mouth. All I could think was great, I’m toast. Burnt toast to be exact. The odds of my saying something I shouldn’t are significantly greater than one of those people who barely say a word. If we were in Vegas, I’d say the odds were stacked against me.
Consider verses like:
The discerning heart seeks knowledge, but the mouth of a fool feeds on folly.
Or Ecclesiastes 10:12
Words from the mouth of the wise are gracious, but fools are consumed by their own lips.
Yikers! The second half of that verse doesn’t sound very pleasant at all. That might be enough to silence even the most talkative of talkers. Duct tape anyone? Help a woman out!
Lately, life has gotten a little easier on the watch what you say front. I didn’t even need duct tape. I happened upon this happy trail quite by accident.
The other night my husband Sam and I were at a restaurant having dinner. I could tell he had something on his mind he wanted to talk about. As Sam shared what was on his heart, I wanted to do what I typically do: talk about ways to resolve his concerns and chime in with words of encouragement.
I felt something pulling back the reins, so to speak (or not, I guess). My eyes kept getting drawn to a painting behind Sam. The painting was nothing special. It was of a pear. Yet, still my eyes kept getting drawn to it as Sam was speaking. I kept looking at the letters under the image: Pear.
Pear. P-e-a-r. Pear. And then, God said inaudibly, “The ‘P’ is silent.”
If the “P” is silent, we are left with ear. Ear. Ear. Listen. I was supposed to listen.
Any time I’d get an inkling to say something, my eyes would once again be drawn to the picture of the pear. I guess I still need visual cues to keep quiet. Ear. Ear. Listen. Sam needed me to listen that night, not to say a word. I think he thought I was mad at him at first because I didn’t say anything. Funny, how silence from a speaker can make someone think that. Nope. Just following instructions from the Big Guy.
I would never have been able to keep quiet just a few short months ago (maybe even weeks or days ago). What’s interesting is that I think God gave me an outlet to express myself through writing. Like we started off with, we all need some way to express ourselves. Because I can say what I need to through my writing, I am finding I am talking less. This just might be the 8th wonder of the world!
Because I am talking less, I am able to listen more. Interesting. Will I ever be the poster child for silence and solitude? Let’s not get carried away people. But maybe there is hope for me to work toward living out this Scripture:
Those who guard their mouths and their tongues keep themselves from calamity.
Using writing as a means of expression allows me to edit myself. Thank you, sweet Jesus, for that one! I need a filter. I need some editing. Maybe my fingers will help to keep my mouth from causing calamity. If writing doesn’t work, I may have to resort to placing said fingers over my mouth in order to silence it.
I love beneficial side effects that I didn’t see coming. Thank you, God, for allowing me to become a better listener because you’re letting me work things out on the written page.
If you’ve already found ways to express yourself in a healthy fashion, keep up the good work. If you haven’t found those yet (or maybe you forgot the things you used to love to do), I encourage each of you to find ways to express yourself. Be who you are – wonderfully and fearfully made.
How do you best express yourself?
Are you a good listener? If you answered “yes”, ask someone in your world if that is, in fact, a correct assessment. (Hopefully, you are smiling right now.)
Do you find it easy or difficult to be a good listener?
If you find being a good listener difficult, what’s one practical thing you can do to improve your listening skills?