Hearing Voices

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I have a nifty app on my phone called “Notes”.  It looks like a yellow pad . . . I’m sure you’ve seen it.  I use it to make grocery lists, to save important information, etc.  Silly things are recorded there . . . profound things . . . I wrote this there some time ago:

“Am I afraid of the power of my own voice?”

About a year ago, I was several years into my journey toward a college education.  I had declared ‘general sociology’ as my major, because I really didn’t have a solid direction to move toward.  I figured that if I got the ball rolling, God would lead the way.  Things were going well – I was a straight A student with an honors scholarship.  Then . . . we decided to see a movie.

I don’t remember the name of the movie.  I only remember that it was a beautiful weekend in fall, almost exactly one year ago.  We settled in our seats at the Warren, ready for a cinematic experience.  Now, I love cinema.  You must understand this; when I watch a movie I value the experience highly.  I take it all in . . . the cinematography (“What a fantastic shot!”) . . . the acting (“She/He is perfect for that role!”) . . . the editing (“Seemless!”) . . . the music (“Hans Zimmer scored this, didn’t he!  I’d know him anywhere!”) . . . I critique everything.  And I usually have an opinion on how it could have been better, if it wasn’t perfect.  I love the movies!  So on this beautiful autumn day, as the budding sociologist settled in her seat and the previews began, a voice out of nowhere (somewhere . . . but where?) spoke clearly, without pause or drama:

“I don’t want to be a social worker; I want to make documentary films.”

Stillness.  Silence.  “What . . . ? . . . where . . . ? . . . where did that come from?”  Then, running . . . running in my head, running far from that voice.  “I am knee-deep in my education.  I am on a track.  No.”

And life goes on.  Classes . . . tutoring . . . still asking God for direction . . . researching . . . frustration . . . it’s time to take a break.

My planned break was last summer.  Spring semester had been exhausting. Then came the unplanned break – no money for fall semester.  I enrolled in an 8-week course for the second half, holding out hope that the money would be there.  It wasn’t.

In October, my husband and I went to the Storyline Conference in Nashville. We planned a wonderful vacation, just the two of us, around this event.  It was everything we wanted it to be.  But I was still no closer to knowing what I was supposed to do with all the passion inside me or the knowledge I had been gaining.  I was getting pieces of the puzzle, but couldn’t find the lid.

We’d heard about a weekend seminar that a friend was having, and it sounded wonderful.  It was along the lines of everything I’d been reading, everything I’d been praying about.  We went with eager and open hearts.  No lightening bolts came . . . no booming voice from heaven.  And then, in a regular moment, sitting in someone’s living room, I spoke about the voice I had heard a year ago.  And someone said, “Me, too!”  And everything changed.

Am I afraid of the power of my own voice?  Because it was my voice that day in the theater.  It wasn’t the voice of God, telling me what he wanted me to do.  It was in first person.  It was my voice.  But it was a voice faraway, a voice from deep-down . . . a knowledge that decided that it must be heard. Perhaps it was a voice stirred by the working of God within . . . I don’t know why it came when it came.  Maybe I needed time to wrestle with it, to converse with this part of myself that I had not acknowledged.  I kept it to myself, for the most part, for a whole year.  And now it was more than a voice.  It was a force.

Things I had been thinking about, reading about, praying about . . . it all clicked into place.  Not every puzzle piece, but a large section finally made sense.  That didn’t make it any less scary.  In fact, it was so scary that I couldn’t bring myself to say the words out loud in front of anyone . .  or even to myself.  Thank God for encouraging friends!  Because in that place I was able to invite that voice to the table, to acknowledge it, and let it sit down. It was nerve-wracking . . . scary . . . but I had come far enough in my journey to handle the fear.  It wasn’t easy . . . but it was necessary.  To embrace this voice is to embrace an unspoken part of my heart . . . to allow my real heart to be heard . . . it is to grow, to change, to be what God always knew I was.

The cry of my heart is for social justice.  My heart breaks with every story of oppression I read.  I long to document the good in the world, those places where the kingdom of God is taking hold.  People need to see that for every story in which evil triumphs, there are stories in which love wins, mercy triumphs . . . that there really is good in the world.  So . . . I don’t want to be a social worker; I want to make documentary films.  And that’s exactly what I’m going to do.

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4 responses »

  1. Thank you, Laura . . . you are an inspiration. I remember when we met; it was at the Oklahoma Food Coop . . . you were starting your own coffee roasting business . . . I was so excited for you! And I got to see you every delivery day, happy to enjoy your smile and hear how it was going. You still have wonderful things to do, I'm sure of it!

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