Claiming and Reclaiming My Voice

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My parents have reminded me more than once that I was so shy when I was younger, that they had to tell me to say “hi” to people.

Apparently, I was afraid of my own voice from the start.

Here’s the truth for today.

I’m battling for my voice, friends.

Perhaps I always have.

This is a spiritual battle. No doubt.

God vs. the enemy. They’re battling for lives. They’re battling for souls.

God created me. He’s cultivating a voice within me. He’s asking me to use that voice to proclaim truth and life to others. Truth and life to myself. He’s asking me to have faith in His creation, faith in the unique gifts He’s bestowed upon me.

The enemy. Forget that loser. Forget the niceties. He’s a beast, a deadbeat. He wants to kill and destroy my voice, my entire life for that matter. He wants to silence me with all his might. He’s on the prowl, up to nothing good. I renounce him and all his evil, scheming ways.

So many things have happened in the 15 months since I left my 14 1/2 year career as a speech-language therapist to stay home and pursue writing and photography. Beyond all the things that have happened, there’s been a behind the scenes. Behind the scenes, I’ve been battling a sense of identity, a sense of place. Behind the scenes, I’ve been asking big questions about work and worth. Behind the scenes, I’ve been struggling with my voice.

I’m riding a fine line between being totally confident in who and where I am, and utterly unsure.

Again, I’m certain this is an issue of faith. I’ve taken a leap of faith, and the enemy is coming on strong with his totally weak, but believable voices of doubt and fear. This is perfect timing for him to ride in on his black horse and kill God’s every plan for my life.

The enemy will not win, friends. He will not win. But he’s still trying.

After months of writing and editing, just two days before I was scheduled to present my first two children’s book manuscripts to my writing group, the manuscripts fell flat to me. Mind you, I’ve worked and reworked these babies up and down the past four months. I’ve edited, edited and edited some more. Both manuscripts have made me cry (in a good way). I’ve been certain there’s something unique about them. I’ve been certain that somebody, some agent out there, will see the beauty in what I’m trying to convey. But last Tuesday? They fell flat. Completely flat. By the time I got the manuscripts to writing group, I’d nearly talked myself out of presenting them to the group because I just wasn’t sure anymore. Fortunately, my writing group knew this presentation was coming and wouldn’t let me out of it. But today, I’m afraid to open the manuscripts back up because I don’t want them to fall flat again.

Yesterday, I published a post on my personal Facebook page in which I complained about having to wash grass stains, mud stains, and dirt stains out of my son’s WHITE baseball pants, something I’ll do 2-4 times a week for the next four months. I thought we’d gotten smarter after last year’s BLACK baseball pants, but not so much. There I stood at the sink, scrubbing for 20 minutes, followed by a several-hour Oxi-Clean soaking, followed by a machine wash and line dry. So I shared this post and it felt real. It felt like I was sharing my truth. But I’ll be honest, I fell in the Facebook trap. I put my voice out there, and then I doubted it. Was I complaining for complaining’s sake? Was I not grateful enough for all the wonderful things that come from my son’s participation on the baseball team? Should I have ONLY shared the awesome things about baseball season starting instead of this very real, but probably silly baseball mom annoyance? I got to overthinking. I got to doubting my voice. I deleted the post. I wrapped two red rubber bands around my phone so I wouldn’t go into Facebook and start doubting my voice again.

I’m doubting the internal voice that’s been telling me for years that I should get my hair chopped off. “Chopped off.” Those aren’t pretty words. That’s not the most eloquent way to say I’d like to get my hair cut VERY short. But that’s the brutal truth of it. “Chopped off.” Since we had two rounds of lice through our house three years ago, I’ve worn my hair up 80-90% of days. I haven’t gotten my hair cut in seven months. I’ve worn my hair up 100% of days since I returned from Africa. I want to wear more than ponytails and buns, especially as I approach 40, but I’m super low maintenance when it comes to hair. Even though my husband strongly prefers long hair, he’s given me permission to cut it. He knows I’ve been talking about this for three or four years, and thinks I really, truly want to do this. The haircut appointment’s made April 26th. I’m 80-95% convinced I’m going super short. But I’ve not fully convinced myself. I’m not sure I can trust that internal voice.

This morning as we were getting ready for the day, my husband initiated a conversation about shoes and clothing items he’ll need to fit in one of our upcoming monthly budgets. When he said “NEED” I assumed he’d mention dress jeans, dress shirts, and casual, but cool short-sleeve shirts he’s been talking about needing for business trip nights out. All things he legitimately and likely needs right now. Instead, he started with shoes. Boots, in fact. He has two pair of boots, both he’s purchased in the past four years, one that still seems and looks brand new to me. Needless to say, a difference of opinion on “NEED” vs. “WANT” boiled to the surface. I dove too far into detail about the condition of his current boots when all he WANTED was new boots. Things went too far, too quick. Words were said. He apologized. And I felt bad for having expressed any opinion in the first place. Why should I stop him from getting new boots if he wants them? After all, he’s the one bringing in all the money right now. And I’m not. I doubted my voice.

Sometimes I don’t know. I really don’t know.

Sometimes we don’t know. We really don’t know.

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So here I am. On the upper level of a high-end grocery store. Oddly enough, this is one of my favorite places to write. It’s fairly quiet here, but there are enough people to remind me I’m among the living.

I promised myself I’d write and work on my books every Tuesday and Thursday between the first week of January and May 10th, my daughter’s last day of preschool. I haven’t kept that promise 100%, but I’ve written most days and made a lot of headway. Where the books are going and the timing I had planned isn’t as crystal clear with my dad’s lung transplant in the wings.

More fire. More refining. More defining.

My voice. His voice.

Knock the enemy dead.

When I sat to write at this high-end grocery store this morning, I looked left to a meeting of elders. Honestly, I have no clue why they were there or what they were doing. But I kept noting this man across the table. He held a book. He read aloud. I sensed his wisdom, his kindness, even through the paneled-glass windows. I’ve never seen the man in my life.

As he exited the room, he laid his hand on my shoulder gently, far more than a split second, and said “Good Morning.”

Good morning. I see you.

Good morning. You’re here.

Good morning. Wake to the voice inside.

Good morning. Wake to your life.

Good morning. Trust God’s got this.

Good morning. It’s another day.

Good morning. It’ll all work out.

Good morning. Your voice, your place in this world is important.

Good morning.

orangesig

  1. Nikki bobda says:

    Amy, I really appreciate your transparency. I really value that in writers. Thanks for sharing this post. Parts of it really resonated with me! I look forward to reading your posts; they are encouraging! Thank God for you and your gifts!!

  2. Carol Femling says:

    Amy…your dad was shy as a child and he claims that he still is. I don’t believe that at all, but maybe that’s the way he still feels. I was shy when I was a little girl all the way up through high school. I didn’t know I was ok until I started college and good things started coming at me. I gained confidence when that happened. From then on I found my voice, so to speak. I had gone for years having a bad self image and I thought I had completely overcome it. It still comes at me quite often when I’m feeling weak.
    Your sister, Tiff, is shy deep down and I think your brother, Matk, is shy at times. It runs in our family! We have all found ways to work around it, and somehow live with it. I have complete confidence in you!! Keep writing and try to enjoy those times when you can do so. You are admired by many and we look forward to your posts. You are not weak!! You are trying too hard and you are overanalizing too much!!
    As far as your hair goes, start out easy when cutting it off. If you cut off too much you may get sad about doing it. Take off what you feel you can live with. One step at a time, just like life. Every human is just doing the best they can, going one step at a time!!! Love you much!!! Mom ❤️

  3. Monica Anderson Palmer says:

    i can so resonate with the “shy” child and the prison i live(d) in growing up and if i’m completely honest, am still hoping to break out of. it robbed me then. it robs me now. your voice (internal or out loud) is needed. i need it. it inspires. i think of all the things you’ve written and spoken to me and all i see is a woman of God, fighting her holy fight with the utmost reverence to God and to who He wants her to be. for what it’s worth, i love your voice and i’m not just saying that to make you feel good. i mean it. i can relate to it. it inspires me.

  4. Julianna Braden says:

    Amy,
    Thank you.
    I am in the same place. Though, not exactly under the same circumstances. I was a shy child. And sometimes, still, a shy adult.
    I am less than two years away from fifty and figuring out where I belong. What is my passion and purpose.
    Thank you.
    Warmly,
    Julianna

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