I listen to many voices. My kids, husband, parents, siblings, friends, past teachers, past coaches, books, websites… the list could go on. Some of those don’t seem like voices, but they are when you experience something in the present day, and that little comment comes flooding back from 10 years ago. I’m sure we all wish sometimes that the voices of the past wouldn’t return in the way they do… but I guess that’s how life works.
I distinctly remember coaches comments to me. Mostly positive, but there’s the occasional memory of comments that I wish I could erase from my memory. Then there are the boyfriends of the past, the friends who took another direction, and memories with family members. If you asked me, I’d be able to tell you a specific conversation we had, where we were, and how I felt. God bless my long-term memory… sometimes.
The present day voices affect me more than those ghosts of the past. I have terribly sensitive ears, and I definitely don’t have the greatest selective hearing in the world. In a room full of people, I often end up listening to the person farthest away, and completely lose track of the conversation with the person right in front of me. If this means I’m going to go deaf someday, well, at least I took two years of sign language.
Aside from my hearing, voices from people in my life have the ability to encourage me, discourage me, sway my opinions, give me perspective, hurt me, shock me. People don’t realize how much they can affect others with their words. It would help the world if more people would choose to use this skill in a positive way.
So. This past year, I have learned how to make all these voices SILENT. Or even obsolete if necessary.
In September of 2010, I accepted the children’s ministry director job at my church. I admit, I had no idea what I was getting into. I knew I liked kids, and I knew certain life circumstances had prepared me for the role. I knew I loved God, and wanted kids to know His love, but had no idea how to implement that perspective into a solid, organized, consistent Sunday School program. So, I prayed. Then I jumped in head first.
I asked God to give me the clarity of mind to know whether I should continue or not. (I’ve done this in the past, with soccer, with friendships, with jobs…). I heard what I thought was nothing. Sure, I heard people encouraging me I was doing alright, and got affirmation from the church staff. That was good enough to continue in the job, but after a few months I started to feel discouraged. I felt entirely inadequate, lost, and even when I prayed I felt God was leaving me to fend for myself (but not LEAVING me).
In reality, I kind of think I was right. And up until a few months ago, I thought that was a bad thing. Turns out it was good. (I’ve been taught since birth that silence from God isn’t necessarily a bad thing… I just hadn’t figured out yet how that applied to MY life).
God was allowing me to learn to shut out the discouraging, negative, selfish, exhausted voices telling me this wasn’t right for me. He was allowing me to train and learn within His reach, so I could be stronger and rise above the issues of the physical world.
I started to find myself in situations where I’d be alone in a room, ready to scream and punch through a wall. Then this feeling would come over me, I’d look up to the sky, and simply say “Oh fine, I get it.” And it would be okay. I didn’t have to say a bunch of shalt’s and thou’s to communicate with God. I simply had to acknowledge Him, stop and let Him know I was listening, and follow.
I learned that the absence of direction only comes from our physical world on this earth. When you look around you into the darkness, you see more darkness. All you have to do is look up.
So, in situations like this church role I feel so unworthy to fill, I have found if I am looking and listening in the right direction and I hear NOTHING… it means I’m exactly where I should be. I’m not sure if I tied that all together perfectly, but… it is what it is.
Also, I’d much prefer to go blind than to go deaf. 🙂