Can You Hear Me Now?
I was wondering about the value of my voice, recently.
There have been many instances in my life where I've observed my words falling on deaf ears. Usually, it involves a subject I am extremely passionate about. Two particular conversations stand out strongly.
Scenario 1: When I was 12, in a fit of rage trying to prove the strength of my prayer life, I told my Indian mum that Jesus was the "lover of my soul." She didn't take lightly to the word lover, nor had she heard the popular worship song I was clearly quoting. "What do you mean lover? Kids these days, saying nonsense words! Go read your Bible!"
Scenario 2: When I was 22, I told my aunt in India that I was majoring in art. She heard "heart" and began gushing with joy. When I corrected her, her words screeched to a halt with "Art?! What could you possibly do with that?"
I am clearly paraphrasing and giving no context to either scenario, but what I have given is a lack of expressing my truths, clearly. Think before you speak. That is a phrase I always wanted to live out but never could. Growing up, I was always too quick to speak out my passions with no structure. Now, as an adult, I wonder how would I have done it differently?
1. Collect my thoughts. Rather than wing it, hoping for the best, I would prepare my case with calculated words and organized thoughts.
2. Exit from emotions. Instead of being distracted or defensive, I would wait, allow the emotions to dissipate and approach diplomatically.
3. Find God's purpose for my passion. Clearly, if it is God-purposed, there wasn't a reason for me to defend myself, rather declare God's will for my life.
4. Recognize their intentions. I would aim to have them walk away in peace and affirmation that their words were valued just as much as mine.
5. Be respectful and life-giving. I would choose to encourage my listener. Whether thanking mum for instilling faith in me or my aunt for encouraging me to succeed, I would bring them back into the conversation.
For most of my young life, I took peoples' ignorance personally. What I reaped from each experience is that I need to stop speaking these things, and be silent. "Fine. If no one wants to listen to me, then I'm just going to shut up!"
It has taken a lifetime of life-giving words from others to slowly exit this ugly train. I was understanding that I wasn't truly speaking in boldness or wisdom. I was speaking in ignorant passion. I was ignoring the person to whom I was speaking with. Instead I was self-absorbed, readying for the next blow to defend myself.
To be the voice in the wilderness is difficult. When no one recognizes your words, there is a clear action of shut down. What is being communicated is, "You are not valued. Your words are not valued."
But see, that's where my young self was too immature to understand something that I only learned this week, in heavy examination of myself.
The value of a voice is not its recognition.
The value of a voice is the root of its sound.
A voice exists and projects sound no matter what. Laughs, screams, shrills and roars. Whether joy, fear, excitement or anger, all voices have a root.
Years laters, into my 30s, I had reconciling conversations with both my mum and aunt. My mum clearly sees my heart for my faith and she understands what I meant about my intimacy with Christ. My aunt, on a recent visit, took the time to understand that my job is of great value and I have a successful career with great purpose.
I was no longer fighting for right or wrong. I was now being valued for the root of my voice.