Friday, June 24, 2011

Voices*



Noises. They are everywhere.  They come from inside and outside.  One thing I need a dislike button for is noise when I want to be quiet and hear that inner voice.   Some people can’t work unless there is music playing.  I was always amazed that my children needed music or sound of some sort when doing homework. 

For me there are four main “voices” and, no, I do not have multiple personality disorder.  Let me explain each: self, others, accuser, God.

Self  is always talking to me. It is always going, evaluating everything, what I do, how I think, what I think about, what I should do next.  I can rationalize myself out of or into most anything.  For some reason, I woke up at about 3:30 am yesterday.  On my mind was a project I had promised to do.  It took me about three hours of blissful quiet morning time to get it done.  This was work I needed to do, wanted to do, enjoyed doing but hadn’t had time to do. 

Once done, my rational voice said, “OK, you can go back to bed now.  You need your sleep.”  But I knew the agreement I had made with myself was to exercise every day possible. That meant getting dressed and going to the ARC for water exercises. So,  I did what was against the rational mind chattering away in my head and went to exercise.  It takes effort to outsmart yourself, override that voice that for some reason does not want me to want what is best.

Others scream at me when self can’t get through to deter me from what I need to do.  Others usually takes on a negative voice. Many times it is a snippet I remember that someone has said in a teasing way, however it is an old tape that constantly replays.  It says, you are not pretty. You are not talented. You are not smart. You have been dumped on all your life. You are worthless. And the core voice says, you are incomplete. Period.  It doesn’t take much for Others to start talking, only a tendency toward that way of thinking and they start.

Accuser doesn’t really have to speak that often.  He uses self and others most of the time.  I remember hearing that old saying: The devil made me do it.  As I’ve grown older, I’m realizing the devil is like a master manipulator and administrator. He works on the hearts and minds of people who do his bidding and uses suggestions and nudgings that I take as all of the above voices. He even works on my mind to encourage me to side against myself.  He is subtle.  He cloaks himself as an angel of light. He doesn’t show his true colors very often.

I do want to tell you about one time when I feel the accuser spoke directly to me.  I was in a very depressed state of mind because of some events that had happened to me at a church where we had been an active.  I knew I was spiraling down fast.  I was not working. Both kids were in school.  I would sit and rehearse the wrongs done to me and write about them.  I had been advised to write about how I felt but not to send it to anyone. So it was an endless loop that continued for months. 

At the bottom of this hole of despair, I not only heard but felt the presence of the accuser.  It was as if there was a physical presence in the room whom I did not see but I felt. I knew which door he walked in and where he sat.  Before he said a word, I said, “Leave in the name of Jesus.”  I felt the presence get up and walk towards the door.  I knew when he turned, laughed and said in a voice I can only describe as taunting, “You’ll want me back.”  And then he left.  I pray he stays gone.

God speaks to me all the time. The problem is I don’t listen all the time.  I know His voice. It is very quiet, calming, assuring, even when He is directing me or redirecting me. God’s voice has always been with me.  This is most likely due to the prayers of my Godly father.  It is due to his prayers and his influence that I began to listen to the direction of God’s voice. 

As a child, I acted immediately intensely to God’s voice. When I was 7, that voice told me to accept Jesus as savior. I asked my Dad about the whole thing and he told me if God was speaking, I should listen. He led me in the sinner’s prayer on the way home from a revival meeting. The next night, I went forward and made my profession of faith.  I wanted to be baptized, but the church we attended would not do that until I was 12.  Later, I went to a friend’s church and was able to be baptized there when I was 9.  I did because I was determined to follow the voice.

Then the accuser stepped forward and brought Others into my life which for a time stopped all forward motion mostly through my teen years.  In my Christian college, I started learning more about the voice I had heard and followed exuberantly as a child.  I started following again.  God never yells at me. He is always a patient, kind father even in telling me for the 100th time what He wants me to do. 

Out of college, I was single and living in Richmond, VA with two roommates. Our house was grand central station. But this one weekend, everyone was gone and the house was quiet.  I was toward the end of my first three-day fast.  God spoke tquietly in my soul.  He said, “Will you go to the mission field single?” 

I was working for the Foreign Mission Board as a press writer and praying specifically about this very thing.  The thought of going thousands of miles away as a single missionary scared me to death and I answered Him quietly, “No, not single.”  I thought that was the end of it.  But again He asked the question. 

A little exasperated that the second question had come so fast on the heels of the first, I began to explain my rationalizations and again said, “I just can’t do it single. I would do it married but not by myself.”  After a few minutes, He asked again. This time much quieter and calmer than even the first, but the question changed slightly, “Will you go wherever I ask you to go and be content if you are single?”

I was president of the Young Adult group at my church and really everyone, including my two roommates, were engaged. So it was a little hard to take that I thought God was asking me to voluntarily be single.  There was no doubt in mind that God was speaking to me and that was the final reason I said a quiet but determined, “Yes”.  I couldn’t imagine my life without Him.

I was committed to staying single. I believe that was what God wanted. He wanted to see my commitment and be convinced I meant it.  It was about six months later when Roy came back into my life.  I listened for the voice whom I knew by this time to be God.  I heard the quiet assurance that said, “Yes, this was my will all along. I just wanted you to be willing to do whatever I had for you.”

God’s voice is always speaking.  I just have to have my set turned on and tuned to His frequency.  When I do, He will drown out all the other voices and noises in my head. Following His voice doesn’t always prove to be easy, but it is deeply meaningful and satisfying.  Living for Him is living a life of purpose. I will have it no other way.

*Thanks Russ Hardesty for the questions that prompted this blog.

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