Recognizing That Your Unique Voice Matters

While sitting in church recently my pastor said something that felt like he was speaking directly to me.

I love when that happens, don’t you? It’s like a little wink from God.

He was teaching on the faithfulness and goodness of God, reminding us that if we have family and friends who are not Christian, we can pray for God to bring someone else to speak into their life.

He reminded the congregation that we are not the only voice speaking truth to those we love.

And then he said something else—eight words that have changed me;

It’s the same story from a different voice.

It occurred to me then—Maybe it really does take a different voice.

As I was getting ready for church that morning I was wrestling with the same old enemy:

Feeling a bit invisible and unnecessary.

For years I have felt this nudging to tell my story, to speak up and speak out, to help other Christians that suffer as I have with depression, anxiety, and worry. To be a voice of comfort and reason in a world that seems harsh and unforgiving.

To give hope to others that lack hope as I once did.

Closely following on the heels of these good thoughts are also extremely critical ones that taunt me; “You don’t matter, it’s all been said and done before.”

I have struggled frequently with the feeling that my story doesn’t have value.

Or more specifically, that it’s all been said before.

Like maybe I’m a little late to the game.

I wrestle with how any insight could be added to a million voices that have gone before me.

What could I possibly say that hasn’t been said before?

How could my minuscule life help anybody?

God Knows How

Although my pastor wasn’t speaking directly to this issue that morning, his words spoke perfectly to my heart.

He had no clue that his words and his voice would change my perspective that day.

But God did.

I’ve probably heard it said a thousand times before:

Your story matters.

But for some reason, that morning, those words—the same story from a different voice—that is exactly what God knew I needed to hear.

That is why it is imperative that we speak our stories. We truly never know how God will use them.

My voice does have value.

I know I will most likely continue to have days where I doubt my value, but I now have a truth to stand on when those days come.

I can remind myself that my life is absolutely important and I should share.

So, I will.

My narrative may be just another “look what God has done” story, but I realize now, that’s the point— to hear of God’s faithfulness from yet another voice.

There are literally innumerable amounts of people who have dealt with struggles of every shape and have found hope and healing through Jesus.

What if every one of them kept silent?

What if they didn’t blog about it, talk about it or share their story with others that were struggling?

There would be countless exceptional stories left unspoken, and even more so,  an untold amount of spiritually crippled people because of it.

God can’t use a story that’s been left untold to change lives and give hope.

Therefore, He asks His people to speak of His goodness.

He requests we share the good, the miraculous and surprising things that He has done because every single one is meant for a unique purpose.

Your story really does matter

Have you felt the need to share hope with others because of something you have gone through but haven’t done so yet?

It might not look like the way I choose to share my story—maybe it’s on a smaller level. Perhaps it’s to a friend or someone you know that is going through a hard time similar to something you have gone through.

Regardless, of how or when, remember that your voice matters.

A different voice telling the exact same story of a God that is bigger than any amount of pain or suffering we have endured is necessary.

It doesn’t matter if we’ve heard it a million times—go ahead—be the million and first.

Because it’s needed.

YOUR voice may be the exact thing someone needs to hear today in precisely the only way YOU could tell it.

The truth is, that we can hear the same thing over and over again without any response until finally, something clicks.

Who’s to say you’re not the one to speak to make it click?

Speak your story to be that different voice

Don’t decide that your story isn’t important because it’s not as spectacular as the next person’s. Don’t give in to the lies that nobody will benefit from your voice.

I know I’m just another girl with a story.

But it’s a beautiful story.

It’s a story of redemption. When God turned ashes into something beautiful.

It’s a tale about God’s faithfulness through the valley of hurt and pain and how He continues to carry me through to the other side.

I am truly just another voice with the same story of faithfulness.

And you know, I’m okay with that.

Because it is uniquely mine.

Though it’s not entirely new.

But that’s the point.

It’s the same story of God’s faithfulness from a different Voice.


Share your unique voice, friend, it’s needed.


Recognizing That Your Unique Voice Matters

 

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Why Kindness is the Most Important Part of Parenting

“I don’t have time for this today!” I breathed out, annoyed by my son’s bad attitude.

He had buried his head in the pillow of our sofa and wasn’t budging because of his frustration with our homeschooling day.

He also made sure to let me know how “mean” I was being for making him do this worksheet.

“Would you please get up and come to do this work!” I raised my voice, more than a little exasperated.

He ignored my command and instead kept his ostrich posture.

“Fine, keep your head buried as long as you’d like. When you’re ready to talk I’ll be over here working.” I turned back to my computer screen, happy for a moment’s peace from my highly sensitive nine-year old’s tantrum.

My boy kept his head buried in the pillow for roughly five minutes—I’ve got to hand it to him, that showed some serious commitment—while I fumed and typed.

As he finally emerged from his shell of a pillow, arm still covering his face, he let out a soft, “You weren’t listening to me…I was trying to ask you a question.”

You’re Right…I’m less Right

If you’ve ever seen the movie, Megamind, you’ll appreciate that little sub-heading. (I’m just full of kids movie references in case you’re ever in search of a great one and need somewhere to turn. I know, this is an invaluable talent to have.) 

I hate admitting when I’m wrong and it’s especially hard admitting when you’re at fault to your nine-year-old son.

Letting out a deep sigh, I realized that I wasn’t annoyed at him really, but more by my own lack of enough time and hurried demeanor. If I was being perfectly honest with myself, I just wanted him to “do” and not feel today.

The push of my to-do list was being felt and I was trying to do two things at once, which, might I add, always ends so well. I pretty much wanted him to be quiet and do his work so I could get mine done.

I was sure today didn’t allow for patient parenting and hundreds of questions while he decided to overcome his sour mood.

Long story short, he was right.

I was being impatient and unkind with his sour mood because I had too many to-dos. My agenda certainly isn’t more important than those that I love. But far too often, that’s exactly how I behave.

These realizations came suddenly while staring at the back of my little boy’s arm that presently covered his puffy tear-stained eyes.

I was treating him like an unfeeling robot because I was overwhelmed by “busy.”

Nobody’s mind has ever actually been changed by freaking out and demanding they just “do.” I guess if my child were made of tin and wires that tactic would work.

But he’s not.

I have a real, living, thinking, feeling child. And I need to remember to treat him that way.

Just like me, my son has off days. And just like me, he needs extra care and tenderness, particularly on those days.

I’m pretty sure you can relate if you’re a parent

As parents, I am confident we will all come to this place of struggle with our children at many points on this journey.

Perhaps today you have a child that is walking away from the faith you have instilled in them or maybe they’re at an extremely rebellious stage.

Maybe you’re more like me right now and it’s something smaller or day-to-day, like wrestling with a nine-year-old while homeschooling.

Regardless, we can’t expect them to change their minds because “we said so,” especially, I’m afraid, the older they get.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t want my children to simply “do” while their hearts are silently growing bitter.

As my children have grown, I realize the struggles they face are far more complex than when they were young and parenting them with kindness is more important than ever.  Parenting with kindness is extending grace and giving love in spite of the ugly that their sin-stained hearts may project. It is instilling within them an attitude of kindness that they can then extend to others.

I truly believe that in parenting, we are to emulate how God parents us:

With kindness.

“Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance?” Romans 2:4 NASB

A changing of mind takes time and care. Our children deserve more than our rushed words and hurried admonition. They need our ears, attention and time to change.

They need our kindness to lead them to repentance. Kindness is what changes hearts, changes minds and breaks down barriers.

After all, it’s God’s kindness that leads us to repentance. Why would I ever think it would be any different with my children?

No matter the situation: I believe kindness, patience, prayer, and guidance while awaiting their heart to soften and change, is exactly what God ordered. Whether it’s in five minutes or five years.

If love is patient, kind and does not act unbecomingly, as I Corinthians 13 states, then parenting and even discipline should be kind as well.

His Kindness Leads to Repentance

I always desire compassion, tolerance, and patience for my downfalls and shortcomings. Regretfully so, I do not always allow the same for others and certainly not for my own children.

God spoke truth to me through my little boy and as usual, His kindness led me to repentance…


Pushing my laptop aside, I slowly removed his arm from his face and whispered, “I’m sorry I wasn’t listening.”

I craned my neck down and cradled his chin in my hand. “You hurt my feelings too when you weren’t listening to me,” I explained.

His sad countenance slipped away as he looked up with powder blue eyes and cautiously smiled. “It’s okay… I’m sorry too.”

“Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.” Ephesians 4:23 NASB


Why Kindness is the Most Important Part of Parenting.

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How to Love Even in the Hardest Relationships.

“I love her but she is so…”

As soon as the words spilled from my mouth something nudged at my heart and I found myself pausing. I left this discussion feeling uncomfortable about what I had said. In the same breath, I proclaimed love while pointing out a perceived flaw.

This conversation has entered my mind repeatedly over the last few months and has left me asking myself this question;

If I love someone, am I all in?

Am I prepared to love every bit of the people I say I love, even in those “hard” relationships, or is there conditions?

I know you can relate when I say “hard relationships.” You know who I mean; we love them—we really do—but, well, they’re hard to get along with.

I have friends and family that span all different backgrounds and ways of thinking, and I’ve realized since that day that either I love them or I don’t.

Period.

My heart was prodded because I see now that there is no room for “I love them but” in this world where Jesus died and forgave all.

“I love them but…”

They yell too much.

She’s angry all the time.

He is hard to get along with.

They make foolish decisions.

She’s so judgmental.

They’re really uptight.

He/She won’t help themselves.

(Insert undesirable quality here.)

How many times have I decided that my love for someone else has limitations or is dependant on how they behave?

Since this conversation, I have noticed myself almost (and yes, finishing) saying these four words.

These four little words trigger me to think before I speak now, and honestly, to think before I think.

Our feelings and thoughts about a person begin in our minds and inevitably find their way out of our mouths and settle into our hearts.

I’ve come to realize that catching these thoughts before they come out of my mouth is paramount to changing my whole perspective. To really, truly love a person fully, warts and all, with no conditions, means I don’t wait for them to change. And furthermore, I don’t point out “that thing” that drives me crazy about them.

It’s saying, “I love him/her/them.” Period.

Flaws left unspoken and grace abounding.

I have found that when I love this way, without limitations, and focus on why I DO love someone, these shortcomings that felt so unbearable all but disappear. A discontentment that I’ve had falls away when I actively choose to leave faults unspoken.

Much needed humbling.

This whole prodding from Jesus to love completely has humbled me in the process. I have several times imagined others saying “I love her, but…” about me.

It’s not pretty.

“I love her but…”

She’s habitually late.

She’s a procrastinator.

She’s afraid of too many things.

She’s a know-it-all.

She talks too much.

Oh, how the list could go on…

Loving a person wholly has prompted me to acknowledge my flaws and the grace that others have shown me in spite of them.

It’s interesting when I turn the spotlight on myself—suddenly other people’s flaws and weaknesses don’t seem so serious.

This is nothing new…

I know this isn’t a new revelation. Jesus has always taught love, acceptance, and forgiveness.

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” John 13:34

We can know we’re told to love as He loved, but it’s amazing when you really put it into action. No buts.

Yes, we will disagree or not see eye to eye on something, but that is not where our focus should be.

When I care for a person my love should know no bounds. Their faults are a part of who they are, good or bad. I have found that the more I love without pointing out imperfections, whether to myself or others, I love more fully, completely, and freely.

It’s freeing for me. I believe purely because it’s a choice I’m making with no restrictions or conditions set on the other person. Love simply isn’t about other people changing.

I’ve heard it said, the measure of love is to love without measure. This quote has been attributed to St. Francis de Sales and Augustine of Hippo. Regardless of whoever said it first, they are absolutely right.

When we love without measure, we love completely and freely— we love without holding back.

Certainly, we all have deficiencies, flaws, and defects that make us less than loveable. But does this mean we deserve less love or a guarded portion?

No–

Not according to how Jesus loves.

“Let love be genuine…” Romans 12:9

The NIV version of this verse says sincere and the NASB says without hypocrisy.

The word “but” is a conjunction which is used to show a contradiction with the previously stated statement. Therefore, if I say I love them and then follow that with “but,” I partially negate my first statement.

Jesus didn’t leave room for a “but” when he told us to love one another.

Yes, those that we love will irritate us, annoy us, and rub us the wrong way.

It’s inevitable.

And I believe it may be precisely these times where we lean in and love them even more.

Those hard relationships may never get any easier and those people may never really become any easier to love. And yet, we must love anyway, because we have been so greatly loved—warts and all.

I want to extend grace to others above anything else because of the grace I have been given.

Although clearly, we can never love as fully and completely as Jesus does, we can always improve on how we love.

I believe this is a step in the right direction;

“I love them.”

Period.


I’m curious, have you found yourself saying, “I love them, but?” Would you like to join me on this journey of giving grace and loving fully? I’d love to hear what you think!

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Do I Trust in GAD or GOD?

Do I trust in GAD or GOD? Snazzy little play on words, am I right?! *currently patting my own back. (Don’t worry, if you stick around long enough you’ll get used to my bizarre sense of humor)

And apparent lack of conventional writing rules, like actually discussing what the post is about.

Moving on—I’m assuming you’re here because you know what GAD is, or perhaps you’re curious to know.

GAD is the acronym for Generalized Anxiety Disorder.

I was diagnosed with GAD about 17 years ago although I have always dealt with an underlying nervousness or dread. These emotions are quite unexplainable to someone who doesn’t have this struggle.

The most simplistic way to explain GAD is having a nervous, sometimes doomed feeling that follows you literally everywhere and can’t be shaken. (Like that ugly cat that someone dumped off by your house which has decided that you’re it’s lucky new owner and loves to gift you regurgitated mice on your front porch in gratefulness.)

Yes, it’s as delightful as that little scenario.

I digress.

During extremely stressful times GAD causes me to have a near persistent bombardment of thoughts and feelings about something bad happening, especially in regards to those I love.

Living with GAD

Having an anxiety disorder means I become nervous and anxious beyond what would be considered normal over simple, everyday things. Something like sending my kids to other people’s houses or my teenage son driving can cause panic.

Things that other people find fairly easy to do can be extremely distressing for me and can often lead to a breakdown.

Having GAD also means I like love normal.

I love routine.

Because you see, it gives me the feeling of being in control (which I think we all know is about as real as a unicorn.) Any deviation from normal leaves me off-balance and out of my element.

My oldest son, for example,  just went on a week-long trip across the country.

Oh, I’m sure you can only imagine what fun that was for me!

Every frightening, uncomfortable thought that could materialize in my mind was present. The thoughts reverberated in my brain and down through my body, causing a channel by which everything else in my life funneled through.

I’ve learned to ask myself the same question every time I arrive at this point;

Do I trust in GOD or GAD?

There is always only two options:

  • I can trust in GAD—my feelings and thoughts I am experiencing.

OR

  • I can trust in God.

It is not easy living with an anxiety disorder that screams that something terrible is around the corner.

Quite frankly, it’s really, really hard.

Although having GAD is terribly difficult, I have found that God is bigger.

I don’t want to trust the crazy, irrational, lying fears and thoughts that race through my mind. I don’t want to live my life being held hostage by fear and what ifs.

I’ve tried that before. Surprisingly, it didn’t turn out too well for me.

Through much trial and error and many, many tears, I know that if I don’t want to believe the crazy in my head and body, I don’t have to. Sound too simplistic? Maybe it is, but it’s also entirely true.

A Spirit of Self-Control

God says He has given me a “sound mind” or “self-control” in 1 Timothy 1:7. In fact,  in this exact same scripture, he says that he DID NOT give me a spirit of fear.

GAD tells me to panic and to fear.

GAD also tells me that I can’t control myself and that I have to give in to the anxiety I’m feeling.

In short, GAD makes me feel like a victim.

God shows me I’m not.

I often have to make scary tough decisions and yes, sometimes I shrink away from them. When I do, I must acknowledge that I’ve allowed fear to dictate my life. It can be discouraging.

However, every time I struggle with GAD I look at it as an opportunity to lean in deeper to God.

Does this mean when I choose to trust God that all of the fear falls away?

Simply put, no.

I still feel the uncomfortable, prickly fear feeling that creeps up my neck and descends into my stomach.

GAD still says NOT to let the kids go or NOT to take that new opportunity.

But where does my trust lie? In the anxiety I experience or in the GOD of every experience?

Where does my trust lie? In the anxiety I experience or in the GOD of every experience?Click To Tweet

He has faithfully kept me, faithfully answered prayers and calmed my fears when I have humbly handed over the scary in my head.

He has promised peace and his promises are true.

I may still struggle with GAD but I have more peace walking in courage through the fear than I ever did when I gave in to it.

So, I continue to trust Him.

I don’t always do it perfectly and I’ve been known to fall apart.

But because of His grace and my daily dependence on it, I continue to pick myself back up and move forward on this journey.

I am not a victim.

I am a daughter of the King. (Even if my tiara’s a little crooked.)

I am redeemed.

These struggles and labels that I carry are not what define me and therefore I will not put my trust in them.


Do I trust in GAD or GOD?

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