The loud shrill of a toddler makes me scrunch my face as I resist the reflex to shoot my hands up to my ears. While my ears are being pierced, I can't help but smile, my heart melting. This is the sound of a voice being found, practicing and playing with different tones and volumes, and it is a beautiful thing.
Language and vocals are one part in developing a voice, but it's not the whole. It is just the beginning. It seems to me that some are born with their voice fully formed and developed, able to express their needs and wants without any problem. While for others that expression is harder and takes much more work and time to develop.
I'm among those who have had to work hard to find my voice. Often being a quiet observer rather than a vocal contributor in life. Part of that is the personality that God gave me, being an internal processor as opposed to an external processor. Another part of that is me questioning if my voice matters, wondering if I am an annoyance any time I speak.
It felt safer to keep my thoughts and feelings within me than to risk rejection in putting them outside of myself. So, I learned to silence my own voice early on. Often focusing on the needs of others rather than being in-tune and connected to my own.
There was a constant fear of not being good enough that I refused to completely acknowledge because it felt all too real. All too true. A truth that was too overwhelming to sit with. Too painful to explore.
Intellectually, I knew that I had value based on bible passages like Psalm 139:14, "I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well" (NIV). And Matthew 10:26-30, which talks about not being afraid and then goes on to say, "Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father's care…So don't be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows" (NIV).
At one point I thought about getting a sparrow tattoo so that I always had that reminder with me. I knew these truths but rarely if ever felt them to be true. In my head, being perfect was the only way to ever feel that I was enough. Obviously, perfection is unattainable, so I spent much of my life feeling like I had fallen short. Like I was and would always be a failure.
Until recently, I haven't fully known or embraced the inherent value that God has instilled in me. A worth that can't be earned but that simply is. Not feeling worthy lead to my silence and lack of my voice being developed. Over the last year and a half, I have worked hard to find my voice, know my worth, and practice speaking my truth.
I'm learning that there is power in using my voice, that there is beauty in imperfection, and that connection and authenticity are worth the risk of being vulnerable. I'm learning that I don't need to stay silent in the name of loyalty or protection of others but that my voice matters. You have a voice that matters too.
Owning our story can be hard but not nearly as difficult as spending our lives running from it. Embracing our vulnerabilities is risky but not nearly as dangerous as giving up on love and belonging and joy- the experiences that make us the most vulnerable. Only when we are brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of our light. —Brené Brown