I had this friend whose voice was always in my head, her opinions guiding my daily decisions and chipping away my confidence one layer at a time – I wouldn’t wear that outfit, blue doesn’t hide the extra weight you put on, don’t let your baby fall asleep in the swing or you will have trouble on your hands, you’re fighting with your husband about money again! It was like a leaky faucet that could not be fixed. I never had the courage to say or do anything to contradict her because her thoughts of me, her opinions controlled me clouding my judgement. And she didn't even know it.
She was one of those friends that I looked up to. She was loved by all, had no problem talking to crowds with her charming personality and is a successful businesswoman – she had it all together. I basically worshipped her. We were inseparable, until I realized I lost who I was. I compared myself to her in areas where I lacked (which seemed to be all of them) and in the process not only lost my voice in the relationship but how I lived my life. And I wanted it back.
You see, your voice is your story. When the sound of your words being strung together disappears, your story slowly fades into the distance replaced by louder sounds and you vanish altogether. You, nor I, are not made for a purposeless life. Stories are messy, there is an ugly part or two, maybe the edges are burnt a little, but it’s yours and no one has one quite like it.
Let's find that voice. The world needs to hear it.
#1 – What are you good at? Don’t compare yourself to others – its okay to be you.
What if we stopped trying to be perfect and just started being us? What if we allowed ourselves to show up broken, imperfect, and say "this is me, this is what I have and its good enough." Why are you comparing yourself to this person? What are you afraid of? I've asked those questions myself many times. If we look closely we'll find that there is one answer – we want to love and be loved back just the same. Thoughts of comparison and jealousy devours all sense of belonging and acceptance. It takes courage and the mind of Christ to look into the dark corners of our hearts, find the beautiful person God created us to be whilst listening to the many voices of discouragement and failure. The world can be such a heartless place and that is why we need YOU, not a copy of your friend or your favorite Instagram account. Take the pressure off and be you.
#2 – What do you love doing? Less fear, more trust.
You are stronger, wiser, more able than you think. Write those words down on a sticky note, display them where you'll see them most, and repeat daily – I am strong. I am wise. I am able. The enemy of taking action is the belief of someday. Thinking about purpose instead of doing the purpose cripples you from ever moving forward and doing what you love most allowing fear, doubt, and insecurity to occupy your thought life and quiet your voice in the process. You can't do this, who do you think you are? Don't allow your friends and family, co-workers, even your own thoughts sabotage your chance of having a life of purpose. Lean into the unknown, God is there. The someday is the now, like right now! Your voice is the most important thing about you. Use it.
#3 – What need can you serve? Be vulnerable & connect with others.
Being vulnerable is raw, humble, and oh so brave. Vulnerability reveals the mess as it is right now and invites others in. It requires asking for help and being honest about our insecurities and trusting others to respond and not reject. We get stuck in the habit of sitting in the corner and keeping to ourselves because it's just easier that way. Being part of a community may sometimes make you feel needy but that is where change and growth takes place. Your willingness to be open in front of others serves those who are hurting too. I love what Brene Brown says about vulnerability in her book "Daring Greatly":
Vulnerability is not knowing victory or defeat, it's understanding the necessity of both; it's engaging. It's being all in. When we spend our lives waiting until we're perfect or bulletproof before we walk into the arena, we ultimately sacrifice relationships and opportunities that may not be recoverable, we squander our precious time, and we turn our backs on our gifts, those unique contributions that only we can make.
Share the story of Christ and how he changed your story. Make the place where you gather with your people a place where you can talk about subjects otherwise avoided. You and they are not alone.
#4 – What is life asking of you? Be still, the truth is in the quiet.
Now more than ever, there are mountains of opportunities for distraction: phones, Netflix, browsing the internet, work, over-committing to activities at church or with friends...the list goes on. Stop, take a breather, and listen to your life, the one God has been a part of all along. What is it telling you? It'll guide you to what you're meant to do with your gifts, your passions, and your abilities. Trust and don't discount them. Be intentional with the moments of stillness. During that time you will not only find rest but a nudge to what is next. Questions such as where does my story go from here can be answered in the quiet. God created a safe place within him designed for us to be undone and do the work.
Use that beautiful voice of yours and share the stories you’ve been holding back – don’t hide behind someone else’s. You are just as important and have just as much Jesus to share.
How will you share your story today?