This past year, I’ve been receiving an increasing amount of email from our Faith Barista community about the journey to write. Even though many of us may not be writers, we are all on the journey of finding our voice. So, I asked one of our friends if she’d be willing to share a conversation and her questions with us here. And I wrote her a letter, in response to hers.
Each and every time I read a blog post of yours I find myself connecting to what you share in some way…especially lately, I keep thinking how I’d like to write you to ask you something.
I started a blog… My whole goal with it was not to be flashy, not to ever write anything that wasn’t really coming from my heart.
To write what was really going on with me. To be real.
This past year I just found myself unable to write though. I don’t know if it is because the first blog I did was when I was in such a mask wearing state of mind? Or if it’s because of the fear that people I know will read something and misunderstand or be hurt in some way. Maybe both.
Whatever the case I find my mind goes blank when I begin to write a blog post even when just moments before my head was swimming with an entire post or more!
Over this past year I have become involved with so many people in my community…Over and over the theme of story is there. That when people share their story – the raw and the real – people respond and lives are changed. Because of it I found myself opening up and healing taking place.
So why is it so difficult to write and share my story? I don’t want to be stuck here forever.
Or is God just not letting me do it because I am not suppose to share it that way?
I want you to know that every time I’ve written here since my journey through anxiety, I have been hit with a wall of blank whenever my fingers touch the keyboard.
In fact, when I sit myself down and I start to think about writing, my heart starts palpitating, my fingers grow cold and I feel dizzy. Not well. When it was at it’s worse, I’d have panic attacks and I’d end up lying in bed for hours.
I’ve learned that response is not really us “now”. It’s the part of us that has been hurt in the past who is responding.
We have to help the little girl — the teenager — the twenty-something, thirty-something — or whatever part of us — to write. To let her know she is okay.
When our mind goes blank, it doesn’t mean we aren’t meant to write. It doesn’t mean we are doomed.
It’s the opposite. It means we are standing at the crest of something real. Something true and something only you can offer to the world. That we’ve never dared to before.
It’s original. Like you.
We are touching a part of us that is real. And this part is good. And God is there.
Anxiety is the vestige, leftover from the past, when it was safer to be quiet. Our survival instinct. To be alone.
But you and I know it’s not true. We are on a new journey. To no longer stay hidden. To reach out to others and find they can reach out to us too.
Out of Nowhere
So, what is it about writing a blog post? What is it about writing our stories that keeps us frozen? Paralyzed.
It’s the most tortuous place to be. Torn. When we seem to be able to do everything for everyone else — to get things done for any other purpose.
Except for expressing ourselves.
For finding our voice.
We try to move on with our everyday lives, but our soul still whispers — those words that somehow spark in us. As we’re doing the dishes, taking a shower, driving, or picking up Legos off the floor. When we’re lying on our bed at night.
When we’re not trying to write, it comes.
No matter how hard we’d rather forget about finding our voice, those sparks of ideas — a word — a phrase — a visual image — piece of a story — a song — or even a scene from a movie — comes to us.
We don’t even know why these ideas surface. Out of nowhere.
But, it’s true.
Those whispers remind us.
We have voice. We want to speak.
A Saving Grace
Before finding a therapist, I thought that writing was dangerous for me. I felt I was damaged in some way.
Like it was just something I could never have — just like I never had a dad. Just like I never got to play team sports because it was too expensive and I had to be home after school. Just like I never had a happy home.
I just accepted that maybe this was just another one of the things I could never have.
I’m discovering anxiety is my saving grace. Anxiety is the last line of defense for the deepest parts of me. Anxiety has become the biggest indicator for — to the truth — happening in my heart.
Anxiety has turned from being my greatest prison to become the key to unlocking the real me. When I feel anxious, I know I’m brushing close to what my heart really longs for. What it truly wants to be free to say, to do, to feel and to write.
Whenever I start feeling my body gripped in tension and my neck start to stiffen as I think about writing, calling to see a friend, doing something TLC for me — when I’m afraid to waste time on me — I know I’m touching a piece of me I’ve hidden inside.
We have two choices at the point we experience anxiety.
Choice #1: back off. stay disconnected from your heart. stay hidden.
In the past, anxiety worked in our favor. We were not in safe conditions. We’ve been rejected, shamed, or shot down. Ignored or disregarded.
We needed to be productive and by the grace of God, He made us strong to survive and do what was needed.
It’s easier to fulfill a function, to meet expectations. And that is when anxiety subsides.
When we shove ourselves back in a corner, tell yourselves to be quiet, and say to ourselves —
There is no need for someone like you.
There is no place for your words.
Your story isn’t worth telling.
No one will listen.
Or we can choose option two.
Choice #2: lean into what makes you anxious. stay connected to your heart. become real.
We are on a new journey and anxiety now point us to the door to open into our hearts. We are stronger now because we are not alone.
By the grace of God, we don’t have to survive anymore. We can open up all parts of ourselves because there is beauty there. God is there.
Because listen to what He says —
There is a need for the real you.
There is a place for your words and your story.
Because that is where I’ve always been with you.
Your voice is what I hear everyday.
I’ve lived my whole life without the need to find my voice.
But, that is no longer true for me today. And I can tell that is no longer true for you either.
The truth is that there is a daily journey between these two choices: to move from staying hidden to becoming real.
These choices are not pass/fail. The space between these two choices is a journey — a series of movements.
I’d like to share five of those with you today.
5 Movements To Finding Your Voice & Choosing Your Heart.
Here are the top 5 Movements I take to keep connected to my heart, so I can find my voice.
Anxiety does not disqualify you to write.Remember no matter how your heart or body feels, your spirit is safe and protected by God.
The moments of inspiration that break through even as you are tempted to resign is evidence God’s voice in you is alive and well.
Some days I cannot avoid that blank wall and that is okay. Finding your voice is not a test of your will, but a journey to nurture your heart, to be kind to yourself and to let God love you.
1) Tether your heart-moment with a note and use it to bring you back, so you can write from that place. When you get an idea, don’t analyze it. Jot down that one word or phrase that’s surfacing. If it’s a visual scene that’s flashed across your mind — or a song that’s playing in our heart — scrawl that down. That moment — whether a word or image – is your heart’s tether to that quiet, special place inside you.
Later when you have time to write, look at that word, listen to that music, and close your eyes. Return to that place inside you where there is a feeling. Close your eyes, place your fingers on the keyboard and just start typing.
2) Go on a whitespace walk for 15-30 minutes. Before I write, I put on my shoes, even if I’m wearing my PJs underneath a coat (I change into jeans) and I take a walk outside. I never want to go. If I stopped to think about it, I would stay in my house the whole day. Instead, I walk myself into my shoes and out the door. I listen to a meditation/prayer podcast or listen to some soothing music. I pray if something floats up. Or I don’t say anything. I imagine Jesus and I walking together quietly. And we’re outside together. I go back to my desk. I close my eyes. And I let the thoughts or topics surfaced during the walk float onto the page.
3) Go to your special place. Imagine yourself as a little girl with Jesus. Where would you be? When I started writing my book,I imagined sitting in front of a large window during autumn with Jesus next to me, in front of a cherry blossom tree with its leaves falling to the ground. I’d look out through that window and I’d start hearing myself narrate. I’d start writing whatever I heard myself sharing. I wrote the book from that visual space, reflecting on memories as I looked out into clouds behind a gentle breeze. In my beautiful, secret place, no one can hurt me and it’s there, I am prompted to speak.
4) Listen to music. Because my anxiety was so severe, I needed the aid of music to keep connected to my soulful space. Before I wrote, I would imagine myself in m special place, and put on my ear buds and listened to “solo piano” station on Pandora (its’ free music or for a small fee, you can get it commercial free). No words. Just piano music. Music transports me to heart-connected space.
5) Pray a simple prayer of presence. I did not pray to ask God to help me write. That seemed to put pressure on me to write or else I felt I was failing to connect with Him. Instead, I was drawn to pray just one simple phrase of presence.
Be with me.
Stay close to me.
Take care of me.
I discovered that whenever I felt comforted or nurtured, I would find my voice. Words were the result of feeling safe and intimate with Jesus. Not the goal.
As you can imagine, these 5 Movements for Finding My Voice wasn’t really about writing. Finding our voice is really about choosing our hearts — and discovering Jesus more intimately on this journey.
Finding our voice takes place in every area of our lives — in our relationships, marriages, our parenting — in our jobs, careers, and ministry — as well as our dreams, passions and pursuits.
Finding our voice is a journey all of us long to take. Because our voice is the one thing no one else can offer to the world.
Except through you.
What are your thoughts on choosing you heart — and finding your voice?
Pull up a chair. Dear you. Click to comment.
**NOW, IT’S YOUR TURN — LINK UP IN THE FAITH JAM **
HTML Code For the Faith Jam Faith Fresh Badge
Faith Barista Jam Thursdays
1) I serve up a writing prompt. Let the topic soak in your heart, then publish your post the following Thursday and link up to share it with us. If you don’t have a blog, just write directly in the comments.
TO LINK UP: Click the blue button below: “Add Your Link” and type in the *specific* URL to your blog post (not just the name of your blog). (Subscribers: click here to get there directly).
2) Place the Faith Jam Badge in your post. It’s a welcome sign for our community, inviting others. Grab the HTML Code above. Thank you.
3) Then, pull up a chair. Visit the post before yours and say hi with a comment. Make a faith friend.
*Today’s Thursday’s 2/20/14 Writing prompt :
Finding Your Voice
*Next Thursday 2/27/14 Writing prompt:
What I’m Learning About Myself.
May the writing prompt bring you to a quiet place inside your soul and spark a soul conversation to share with us in community.
Approach it any way you feel inspired! Only required ingredient: keep it real. Click here to learn more.
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