Finding a Voice

I was fairly oppressed as a child – the oldest of six. We weren’t allowed to voice our opinion in our dad’s house unless it was the same as his. Once in a great while, however, (and never around dad) if the situation seemed important enough I would speak up – rather bluntly. It was rare, but it happened. My mom used to tell me that I was tactless. Most of the time, I communicated with my eyes. My dad called it “fire eyes” and it usually got me in trouble. Funny little aside that reminded me of that: my sister recently said to someone about me, “She won’t confront you, but she can give you a look!”

Then somewhere in my twenties I experienced an awakening, if you will. I discovered that I had definite opinions and I enjoyed expressing them. I became a little more outspoken. The tact was still missing though. I called it like I saw it and your response was up to you. I was very confident in the fact that I was not responsible for other people’s feelings. This continued into my thirties until I got some very negative responses to my “straightforwardness”. I clammed up again.

I’ve gone back and forth like that most of my life. Only those closest to me have always known what was on my mind. Those with whom I felt safe and not judged. Finding the balance between truthful and tactless has always been a challenge for me. I love and admire people who speak their minds without fear. They speak with confidence. These people call it like they see it in a truthful way. That’s all. It’s just the truth and you either respect it or you don’t. I think it’s an art that I never mastered.

The Bible tells us to speak the truth in love. “Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ.” -Ephesians 4:15. I’ve come to learn over the years that God’s love is gentle, yet firm. There is no fear involved. There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, -1 John 4:18a And the fear of man . . . The fear of man brings a snare, But he who trusts in the Lord will be exalted.” -Proverbs 29:25.

So, for me, I see this as the balance: Speak TRUTH, make sure it’s coming from love and not pride or the need to be right (which is kinda the same thing), and be concerned with what God thinks of your words. Also, check to be sure that what I want to say needs to be said. “Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them.” -Ephesians 4:29. This doesn’t mean that we’re just supposed to blow sunshine.

Sometimes the truth can be hard to hear. It doesn’t feel good or helpful at that moment. That doesn’t mean its not. And even Jesus didn’t shy away from some name-calling and finger pointing when He was calling out evil. He called a spade a spade. “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean. In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness.” -Matthew 23:27-28. So, we’re not talking about walking on eggshells or treating people with kid gloves. I’m saying that if I call someone out for being a hypocrite, I’d better be sure that what I’m saying is true and for someone’s benefit.

Even now, at almost 60-years of age, I still struggle with fear in the search for my voice. I think it’s time I got over that. I think it’s time I coupled the voice of that young woman who called it like she saw it with the maturity and wisdom I’ve gained in over 25-years of walking with Jesus. There has been SOME! I’m afraid I haven’t gained enough wisdom to be perfect, and never speak out of turn again, but there’s no perfection this side of eternity anyway. Was that just a run-on sentence? Anyway, I’m done being afraid to speak my mind. From this day forth I shall be true to me and to my God. Fear be damned!