This Christmas, I hope you’ll give yourself the most important gift. It’s the gift of learning to pay attention to the still, quiet God-given voice within.
This gift isn’t big or fancy, nor does it come in flashy trappings. But, it is costly. In fact, it requires everything you’ve got.
Think about how Jesus came, when he took on human flesh. He came as a tiny baby, the most vulnerable way possible. Yet, he brought within his tiny body the most powerful gift ever given. As John said, this tiny baby came to “make a clean sweep of your lives. He’ll place everything true in its proper place before God.” (Luke 3:16-17, The Message).
He’ll restore everything he made.
Jesus’s birth wasn’t big and bold. If you blinked you might have missed it. And, yet, for those who paid attention, his birth realigned every single element.
God made you. He wove together every single strand of your soul, every single breath inside of you. And, ever since the world broke you, he’s been working to mend you. He wants to put you back together. And the Good News is this: You get to join him.
It starts with paying attention to the still, small voice inside that needs you.
Finding Your Voice
Your voice is the instrument God gave you to connect who you are inside with the world around you. It’s how you bring who you are into relationship with God and with other people. But, so often who you are on the inside gets covered over, or muffled. It’s what happens when you’ve been hurt, exploited, or used. Parts of you might feel like it’s better to stay silent. But, what those parts of you don’t realize is that when you stay silent, you deprive the world of the gift of your presence. For example,
- Is there a longing inside you’ve buried?
- Are you pushing back an ache you’ve decided to ignore?
- Do you notice a constant tugging at the corner of your heart you wish would go away?
You might be quick to brush this feeling aside, because some part of you feels safer when you stay silent.
But, what if this Christmas, you gave yourself the gift of listening, instead?
Listening to the cry of your own heart is part of honoring the God who made you. As you learn to listen to yourself, you discover how to speak more truthfully from deep within. You start speaking up honestly on behalf of your experience. It doesn’t have to be loud, nor will you always get it right, especially at first. But, you will start bringing your God-given voice into the world around you. As a result, you’ll start to experience the true intimacy and life-giving relationships for which you were made. And, you’ll start bringing more light to everyone around you, in fresh, hope-filled ways.
Finding your voice doesn’t mean you suddenly stop listening to other people. Nor does it mean you start getting loud and speaking over them.
It simply means you start to realize deep down that what you have to say matters.
Sometimes it means speaking up forcefully, and sometimes it means speaking through silence.
Sometimes it means listening to someone else give voice, because shared voices are powerful. Sometimes it opens you up to an alternative perspective, and sometimes you will accidentally trip over someone else’s triggers.
Learning to find your voice is vulnerable.
But, if you take time to listen to yourself, the more confident you will be when it comes to speaking up with other people. Even if you’re wrong or if they misunderstand you, you’ll know that you have honored yourself.
You’ll learn how to find people who can help you grow clearer. And, you’ll learn how to dodge people who aren’t really interested in hearing from you at all.
A Gift You Give Yourself
You have an active role to play in finding your own voice. Other people cannot do that work for you. They can support you in your process of learning to listen to what you want and need. But, at the end of the day, the biggest gift you can give yourself is to commit to doing the work of paying attention.
Here are some examples of what it might look like to start listening:
Finding Your Voice
- I feel like I am not being heard. I’m going to talk to someone I trust about my experience.
- I don’t want to hold on to resentment, so I need to speak up about what I need. I’d rather have a hard conversation than risk growing bitter.
- It’s hard to face that loss, but I don’t want to pretend. I’m going to ask someone to help me give voice to the pain I am feeling.
- I wish I didn’t feel that way; but I do. I’m going to need to let her know what I am struggling with.
- I long for more ____ I can’t necessarily make it happen right now. But, I can honor the desire by writing it down and coming back to it again prayerfully.
Denying Your Voice
- I can’t feel lonely. I’ll just pretend.
- Other people won’t like if if I speak up about that!
- Fake it until you make it.
- Everything’s fine. Just don’t think about it!
- I shouldn’t feel that way. I’ll sound like I’m ungrateful.
There is no shame if you see yourself in that second category. We all have coping strategies for keeping potentially risky or painful aspects of ourselves sidelined. But, what if you could listen to the parts of you that are in need of some care and attention? What if these parts of you might lead to even more genuine connection with yourself, God, and other people?
Finding your voice helps you build trust with yourself. It doesn’t mean you start to act impulsively on every whim. For example, think about how you might parent a child. When your child tells you they want a puppy, you don’t immediately rush out and buy one. On the other hand, you do find a way to acknowledge that desire, while simultaneously helping your child understand that a puppy is a big responsibility. You build trust with your child as you both honor their desire and teach them how to wait.
You can do this same type of negotiating within your own soul, as you start to find, and listen to, your voice.
In your relationship with yourself—and with other people— giving yourself the gift of your attention is the most important gift. It’s not easy to learn to find the still, small voice within. But if you give yourself this gift, there is one thing I am sure of. It will heal you. And as you heal the parts of you that have been broken, you’ll heal one more corner of this big broken world right along with it.
Questions to Ask Yourself:
- What is a problem or desire that has been tugging at your soul?
- Who or what keeps silencing you, telling you not to think about it? (For example, is it someone in your life, a message from your past, or a part of your own soul that tells you not to pay attention?)
- What fears come up if you were to give this matter your full attention?
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Join the conversation. Leave a comment below:
What is one gift you could give yourself this Christmas?