Thursday, October 23, 2003

Finding Your Voice

And Saul said to David, “Go, and the Lord be with you!” Then Saul clothed David with his armor….And David tried in vain to go….Then David said to Saul, “I cannot go with these; for I am not used to them.” And David put them off.
~I Samuel 17:37 - 39 (RSV)

Have you ever felt like a chameleon? I have. Oprah refers to it as “the disease to please.” Oftentimes we morph ourselves into whatever size and shape we need to be to win the approval of others. We may be feeling sad, but we put on a happy face because we think that’s what’s expected of us. We may be angry, but we stifle our feelings rather than truthfully confront the person who hurt us. We want people to like us so we agree to volunteer for activities that we really don’t have time for or interest in; we say yes when we want to say no. It’s just easier to deny ourselves than to risk disappointing others.

I don’t think God made each of us unique only to have us spend all of our time and energy trying to imitate somebody else. He wants us to follow our own hearts and be our own person.

In today’s verse we see well-meaning Saul trying to help the poor, misguided, little shepherd boy, David who naively thinks he can take on the giant, Goliath. What Saul didn’t realize is that David wasn’t trusting in his own abilities; he was putting his faith and confidence in God. “You come to me with a sword and a spear and a javelin,” David said to Goliath. “But I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts….whom you have defied.” (I Sam. 17:45)

David was open to suggestions, however. He tried to wear Saul’s armor, but it just didn’t fit. It wasn’t him. Whenever we try to be something we’re not, it feels awkward and uncomfortable. So David went out with his sling shot and five smooth stones, trusting God to use his true talents to slay the giant. As I recall, Goliath was insulted when he saw David approaching. Well, too bad for Goliath. David knew who he was and he knew who he wasn’t. But most importantly, David knew who his God was. We can do all things through Him, but not if we’re busy trying to be like somebody else.

"There are as many ways to live and grow as there are people.
Our own ways are the only ways that should matter to us."
~ Evelyn Mandel

Recently I saw the movie “Seabiscuit, and one line jumped out at me. They were talking about a horse that had been tied to a center pole and trained to walk around and around that pole. When they decided to see if he had the potential to be a race horse, he got on the track and started making sharp little turns, instead of following the course. Someone said, “They’ve had that horse running around in circles for so long he’s forgotten what he was born to be.”

We need to look into our hearts and find out what we were born to be, and then be the best one of it.

Ever since I was a little girl, I wanted to grow up to be a mom and a housewife. I’ll never forget the year I got an Easy Bake Oven for Christmas. I was in seventh heaven! It came with little packets of ingredients for making everything from pretzels to candy. I have always loved being a homemaker and I feel so blessed to have been able to fulfill that deepest desire of my heart.
But that has not been my only desire. I also love to write. I’ve written poems through the years, but this column has been my first experience at sharing my thoughts on a regular basis. It’s been good for me as a writer. It’s helped me find my voice.

“Take care to find your own true strength.
Nurture it. Develop it. Share it with those around you….”

Simple Truths by Kent Nerburn

When Johnny Cash was a young boy, his mother Carrie took in laundry for $3.00 a week so she could get him some singing lessons. After the second lesson the teacher asked Johnny to sing whatever song he’d like. He sang Lovesick Blues by Hank Williams. After his teacher heard him, she pushed away from the piano and said, “End of voice lessons! Sing it the way you feel it!”

Recently I taped one of Dr. Phil’s shows where he dealt with this issue. I recorded the following conversation he had with one of his guests who also had a dream of being a writer.


“I’m a strong believer that we have at the absolute core of who we are what I call an ‘authentic self.’ To me that involves all the gifts, skills, abilities – all the God-given talents, traits, characteristics that you’re given. Then we add to that our learning history; what we’ve picked up from society, what we’ve accomplished or had done to us or by us along the way and that’s our authentic self. And if we’re being consistent with that and we’re allowing those traits and characteristics to come out and achieve, then we’re going to be really, really happy.

“On the other hand, there’s the fictional self, where we start making choices out of fear. We start making choices because we’re afraid of what will happen if we don’t take the job and stick with it for 16 years. We’re afraid of what will happen if we don’t conform to what Mom or Dad or society or employers or husbands or wives think we should do. And so we say, ‘Okay, authentic self – I hear you crying; I hear you’ve got this talent, I hear you’ve got that skill, I hear you’ve got this ability, but she wants me to do this or he wants me to do that and I’m afraid not to.’

“Look, you’re burning daylight. This is no dress rehearsal. It’s time. If you’re gonna do it, it’s time to do it…..What you need to do is the best you can do. And if the world stands up and salutes that, then great – the world stands up and salutes it…..

“The difference between winners and losers is winners do things losers don’t want to do. That’s the difference between a winner and a loser. Nobody wants to get rejected. Our #1 fear is rejection; our #1 need is acceptance. But winners say, ‘I don’t care if you reject me. It’s gonna hurt me, but you know what? I would rather have the chance and reach for it then sit on the sidelines and watch the world pass me by.’

“What you do is … behave your way to success and what you’ll find out is – monsters live in the dark. So people don’t like something you do? Fine. Somebody else will.

“Writing is a solitary thing – I’ve done it. I’ve written book after book and I sit down and I’m there by myself and it’s late at night and I’m writing and I’m working. Then there comes a time when you put it out there and people are either gonna read it or they’re not – they’re either gonna buy it or they don’t.

“I’ll tell you the secret for me. I decided I’m gonna write this book and I’m gonna tell the truth as I see it…and I was proud of the book whether somebody bought a single copy or not – and then it didn’t matter.”

A friend of mine gave me a beautiful stone plaque that sits on a stand by my computer. It reads: “Words are the voice of the heart.”

I’d like to once again thank Joann Kahnt for giving me this opportunity to find my voice, and the readers of The Prairie Post for listening to it.