Stop Making Excuses and Use Your Outdoor Voice

I’m a chatty person and yet I have spent so much of my life using my indoor voice. I don’t mean that literally, I mean I’ve been quiet about my faith, making up excuses that it wasn’t my time to share.

See I felt like I wasn’t ready yet. I was a work in progress, so how could I possibly have a voice when I didn’t have my act together. Here’s the thing though, I don’t know where that thought came from, but it isn’t biblical. The people we read about in the Bible weren’t finished works, they were very much in progress, and yet through them we have learned about love, grace, and hope. In fact, if the Bible only had people who had their act together, I’m pretty sure it would be a much smaller book!

In 2 Corinthians 12 Paul talks about asking God to remove the thorn in his side and it says in verse 9-11 , “But He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” Now I’m no theologian, but it seems to me like Paul thought this thorn, or “weakness” rather, needed to be removed for him to serve God, and yet God says no! NO?! What’s up with that? Why wouldn’t God remove his weakness? Wouldn’t he want Paul to be serving him in his prime? Nope, He says His grace is enough and His power is shown through weakness! Can I get an AMEN?!

I wasted so long being quiet, literally telling God I wasn’t ready yet, humming and hawing through life, not because God didn’t want to use me, it was my fear and insecurity holding me back! Yet God was there waiting for me to trust Him and be used. Not because I’ve got the answers, or I’m an excellent role model of perfect Christianity. Nope! I wish! He has been waiting to extend me grace, and to show His power through my weakness as He works through me.

How beautiful is that? We serve a God who writes a beautiful story of grace and redemption in the midst of the mess and pain. He changes the narrative when all seems lost. He offers us a message of hope that the world needs to hear, and we just need to have the courage to share it.

Don’t be like me. Don’t waste time minimizing the story that God has written for you. No more excuses! Use your outdoor voice! Be bold! Speak up! Share what God has put on your heart. Maybe your story is just what someone else needs to hear. Maybe they need to hear what you’ve got to say to remind them of God’s love and grace. Your story may be exactly what someone needs to know they are not alone.

The first blog I wrote was about how inadequate I felt, but you know what’s interesting, the more I use my voice to share what God has put on my heart, the more confident and secure I feel. Not in a cocky way, it’s different than that. I have a sense of purpose and determination that fuels me now. See I think sometimes as Christians we can excuse insecurity. We can be deceived into thinking our insecurity is humility, but that’s a lie. You can be confident in what God has called you to and still be humble. You can use your outdoor voice and still be meek and mild.

The other day I was watching Reese Witherspoon’s new show, Shine On. She was interviewing America Ferrerra and she said something so profound that I rewound it several times just to soak it in. She said, “The number one thing that it takes to take action is courage. You have to be the one to say, ‘My voice matters, my experiences matter. I’m gonna find the courage to use my voice even if my voice shakes.’” Now I realize that this doesn’t directly apply. We are not alone in this as Christians. The Holy Spirit gives us boldness, but in order to speak we still have to obey, and that takes courage on our end. It takes guts to open our mouth and speak up. For me, I’ve chosen to obey and use my voice for this blog, and even though I’ve started and put a few blogs out there, it still takes courage. Some of these blogs are so personal, that my voice feels shaky even as I use it on these pages, but I know that God has called me to use it, so I will.

Now, I’m not saying that everyone is called to blog or speak. I couldn’t possibly assume that, but I know you all have a story to share. God has given you a voice and talents and He wants you to use them in a unique way. Maybe you’re not sure what He wants you to say or maybe you are, but you’re scared. Either way, spend time, listen to him, and have the courage to obey. Don’t make excuses, for goodness sakes! Ditch the silence of insecurity and use your outdoor voice!

Life Takes a Village

People say it takes a village to raise a child, but our society doesn’t seem to work that way. Don’t get me wrong, we support each other in little ways, but there also seems to be another side. Over my nearly nine years of parenting I’ve noticed a lot of comparison and competition. Under the surface though I see something else entirely. Beneath it all I hear, “I don’t have a village, so neither should you”.

I’ve heard it disguised in conversations more times than I can count, and it makes me sad. I know that I often want and need a village. Maybe you didn’t have one, or maybe at this moment you’re all on your own, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t do our very best to be a village for each other now.

In Luke 6:31 Jesus says, “Do to others as you would have them do to you” (NIV). When I think of this verse I think of a village. I know I could really use one. See a village isn’t just for the child, it’s for the physical, emotional, and spiritual health of each of us. So maybe it should be, “Life takes a village”. It takes a community of support and care. It takes people reaching out to each other to encourage them and walk with them through their darkest days.

The enemy wants us to live for ourselves, and try to do life alone. He lies to us and says, “Life is a competition. Show no weakness. You can do it on your own. Better yet, show them you can do it even better!” I’ve fallen for it before. Trying to paint a picture of the mom of four who makes it look easy. I’ve tried to earn my status in life by powering through, because that’s how it’s done. Truth be told though, on the inside I was drowning. I was trying to prove I could do it on my own, but really I was dying for a helping hand, and yet I felt so ashamed for it.

As I’ve listened to these conversations around me, touting independence and strength, I can’t help but wonder how many people are just playing the game too? How many are like me? Playing a role, and yet wishing someone would see through the act? Somehow over the years independence has become the definition of strength. Like the holy grail of life achievements is proving you can do it by yourself. Sometimes though, I can’t help but wonder if true strength is in admitting you are weak and you can’t do it on your own. Maybe strength is actually found in seeking community, for wisdom, encouragement, and support for when it’s too difficult to stand on your own two feet.

If you were treated how you wanted to be treated would you have a village? What would it look like?

I’d like to build a village. Not just to raise my kids, but to raise me up in hard times. I’d like to build a village where I can do the same for my people. I’d like to build a village where we don’t have to pretend like we know what we’re doing or we have it under control. Beyond that I’d like to go further, because talk is easy, I want to build a village where we go the extra step, to give each other just what we’ve needed to get through those tough days or weeks or years.

I’m no expert, but I’m pretty sure that’s what Jesus had in mind all along. The problem is the enemy tells us we can’t do it. We’ve got too much of our own to add in the needs of other people. He tells us that this world is everyone for themselves, but I’m tired of living that way.

So let’s drop the lone wolf act; leaving our comparison, competitions, and pride in independence behind. We can build a village, and together we can raise each other up!