Do you have a voice? And if you do, is it yours?
And if it is your voice – rather than the dull echo of someone else’s – do you use it for good? For your own good and others’?
We’ll all know of marriages struggling because one of the partners is failing to use their voice. They can’t quite do it; they can’t speak their truth and become diminished or overwhelmed.
It can take a while to find our voice; but we do each have one to find.
You carry inside you a particular voice, one quite free from your damage done to you; and it’s a voice the world will be blessed by.
Jesus had to leave his family to find his voice.
He had to leave Nazareth, to enter the wilderness and meet himself in the cold exposure of silence and temptation.
He also found it in opposition to the religion of his day. (Sometimes it’s as important to know what you’re not, as what you are.)
It’s difficult to imagine a more sustained attack on power, and in particular, religious power, than Jesus’s voice in Matthew 23.
It was a profoundly offensive rant; a savage prophetic voice. And where did that come from?
Jesus would say it was his nous speaking, his deep knowing.
As I say, it can take a while to find our voice. I’m not sure anyone can become an adult before the age of thirty.
We need first to put some clear blue water between ourselves and our childhood.
And then we need to experience the rough and tumble of the world, alongside its beauty. Only then can we begin to discover our own unique voice.
It is unsurprising that neither Buddha nor Jesus went public before the age of thirty. It may take us longer to grow into our identity.
I remember at the age of thirty five almost being pulled out of myself on a morning run, as if to say, ‘Who are you, Simon? Why do you not speak?’
I was being oppressed by some religious voices around me at the time, and cowering slightly. It was liberating, empowering, to be pulled out of that fear.
Though it still remained a journey; and sometimes I lost my voice again along the way.
Our voice doesn’t always have to be angry, of course. Our true voice might lead us to be gentle, affirming or funny.
When Jesus encountered children, his voice was very different from that used with the authorities. He could not praise or affirm the small people enough.
How many of us grew up never hearing the words ‘Well done’?
These were not words I ever heard, ever – nothing close…when I probably did a few things well over the years.
A true voice can say ‘well done’, but a damaged voice may struggle. It is unable to respond to the moment, unable to be generous…because of its baggage.
Our true voice will vary in tone. But its essential characteristic is its spontaneity; it’s ability to respond freely to the moment it is living; respond freely to the situation and the person before us.
It is not hidden in fear or crippled by insecurity or drugged by self-hate or despair.
You have a magnificent voice inside you. Perhaps you are still feeling your way into it; that’s OK.
Or maybe you already have a strong sense of it, and have seen it at play in the world.
It won’t be on earth forever, of course; but while it is, how are you using it?
Yours is the gentle roar of a lion.