I hear voices, but don’t be concerned. I don’t need medicine. I don’t need a psychiatrist.
You hear voices in your head, too. Our voices try to pull us down daily, feeding us messages of fear and inadequacy. They tinker with our sense of identity. They attack when we are weak from grief and stress. They attack when we are strong, too, in places we’ve left unguarded.
“I keep fighting voices in my mind,” sings Lauren Daigle in You Say, a charting contemporary Christian tune being played by secular radio stations and venues.
I’m convinced the popularity of the song is evidence of our society resonating with its message. We’re undergoing an identity crisis. We don’t feel loved. We don’t feel strong, able to meet the challenges of life. As a result, we seek out ways to patch the insecurities.
I’ve struggled with insecurities all my life. I remember as a second grader, trying to learn the game of kickball. I thought if I played the game well, I’d be liked by other girls. I ended up on the sidelines feeling invisible and impossibly inadequate.
Over the years, I’ve become more confident. I know my weaknesses, but try to zero in on my strengths. However, I’m not immune to The Voice. The Voice is so good at pointing out what I haven’t accomplished. It says, “You’re a failure.”
Being my mother’s caregiver was the most difficult three years of my life. When she died without me by her side, The Voice told me, “You were selfish” by trying to have a life while she was losing hers. The Voice told me, “You weren’t a good daughter.”
God helped me defeat those messages. Like breadcrumbs, he dropped a little revelation here and a little revelation there. As I combed through my mother’s belongings, I found evidences I was often a good daughter. I came to realize that I had tried to survive the most difficult period in my life while my mother had tried to do the same. We coped in our individual, error-prone ways. I eventually figured we could be excused of our humanness. And then The Voice when away.
Well, at least it went away with that “bad daughter” message. The Voice is relentless. Daigle had it right with the word “fighting.” If we are to attain a sense of being loved and safe, we must fight with The Voice. And we must show up with the right weapons. Truth is a very good weapon.
I heard God loved me. I heard it for years. I believed it in my mind, but my actions revealed that I was not sure. If we have parents who loved us, we are ahead of the game. God means for parents to give us a glimpse of what his love is like. Self-sacrificing. Protective. Giving. And yet it is corrective for the sake of molding a child in ways that will benefit that child. I had loving, protective parents, yet I still struggled. Others struggle even more without proper human examples.
How did I learn that God really, truly loved me? First, I had to discard my self-effort, and I threw myself at God’s feet. I was in crisis mode. Again. But this time I was tired of temporary patches. I knew I needed God to intervene, and this time I knew I could not fix myself without him.
Over the years as I flung myself into the arms of God, I got to know him. As he spoke silently but powerfully, I felt his love. I learned the difference between The Voice of condemnation and God’s voice. I don’t always get it perfect. Because of fear, too many times I listen to The Voice. When I come to my senses, I fight The Voice with truth.
I tell The Voice, “Remember how God rescued me from xyz horrible situation when I thought the circumstances could not possibly turnaround? I didn’t see how God would make a way, but he did. And he always does. So,” I tell The Voice, “He will do it again. What you are saying is a lie.”
Or something along that vein.
My mother was right. I only wish she’d lived to see me fight negative, untrue voices with positive, factual information. I imagine now that she is looking down, delighted to see I finally understand. Meanwhile, I am looking up. She was the first one to tell me I was capable. I was smart. I was kind. I was a good daughter.
Words I’ll remember and recite in my head the rest of my life.
How do you fight The Voice? What has helped the struggle become easier?
Copyright © 2019 by Toni Lepeska. All rights reserved. www.tonilepeska.com