Have you noticed that sometimes you encounter the same message coming again and again from different sources? When you finally tune in and recognize the repetition, you realize that God is trying to tell you something important.
Lately, I’ve been hearing this message over and over: “Find your voice.”
Here are a few recent examples. In December, a professor in a graduate class I completed wrote this comment on my final paper: “Your writing (especially when your voice is centered) is beautiful.” I can’t express how much I love that compliment. It makes me want to never again write anything unless I am speaking from my core with my own voice. It’s also empowering me now to disagree (respectfully but assertively) with viewpoints that clash with my Catholic perspective.
At a recent seminar on leadership, the presenter said that one of the most important things that leaders do is lead from what they believe. They must know their own values if they are going to inspire others. So, finding your voice is about being able to articulate your beliefs clearly. We do that by reflecting in silence and asking ourselves questions like these:
Who are you at your very core?
What are your dearest values?
When you are able to center yourself and speak your truth from that core, what do you say?
Once we know our truth, we then must find the courage to share it with others.
Yet another incident occurred when I was reading the book The Uses of Enchantment: The Meaning and Importance of Fairy Tales. The author, Bruno Bettelheim, explains that some of the lesser known fairy tales have religious motifs. To illustrate his point, he summarizes “Our Lady’s Child,” a Brothers Grimm story about a little girl who is rescued by the Virgin Mary but then disobeys her. The little girl is ejected from heaven and cast back down to Earth, where she is rendered mute until she decides to admit her wrongdoing. She refuses for a long time, but when she’s a grown woman facing execution and decides to confess her sin, the Virgin Mary saves her again and rewards her with lifelong happiness. According to Bettelheim, “The lesson of the story is: a voice used to tell lies leads us only to perdition; better we should be deprived of it, as is the heroine of the story. But a voice used to repent, to admit our failures and state the truth, redeems us.” So, it’s not just finding your voice that’s important. You have to use it correctly.
I tend to keep most of my thoughts to myself. I sometimes joke with people who know me well that, like an iceberg, I reveal only the 10 percent of myself above the surface; the other 90 percent is beneath the surface and hidden. Writing this blog may get me up to maybe 15 percent, but the message that I’m hearing seems to be “Say more.”
So I’m pushing myself to be more open, more forthcoming as the right occasions present themselves in my professional life, academic life, and personal life. Hopefully, I will use my voice to say something that helps at least one other person cope, grow, or even flourish.
Wishing you Christ’s Peace and the courage to find and use your voice,