I never would’ve imagined not being able to talk at the Declare Conference I attended this past weekend. I’ve looked forward to this for a year…planning to meet wonderful women who love Jesus and writing as much as I do…talking with the many sponsors that helped make this event possible about their amazing causes…chatting with old friends and new. But a little cold earlier last week weakened my voice and after the first few hours of chatting, it was gone completely.
It was frustrating! And annoying! And not at all part of MY plans!
It was also a bit ironic…at a conference all about “declaring” God’s goodness in all our different ways, there I was, without a voice.
I felt a prodding that there was more to this voicelessness than annoyance. In this forced silence, at a time and place where silence was definitely not my plan, God wanted to show me more.
1. Listen!! You know the whole “you have two ears and one mouth for a reason” saying? That kept reverberating in my heart each time I felt desperate to interject some witty or wise remark into a conversation. Listen…Stop focusing on what I feel compelled to say and simply listen!
2. Be intentional with my words. I had to get very choosy with my words. I met all these amazing people who wanted to know my story, hear about my blog and my message. I could talk about those things for hours on end. Except that this time, I literally couldn’t. So…with great intentionality I chose the most important words to speak to convey the message. (And then I was quietly grateful that my business card could give them the info they needed if they wanted to know more.)
3. Stop and make eye contact. Does anyone else have the bad habit in their household of yelling questions/directions across the house? Mom, what’s for dinner?…Kids, hurry up and get dressed!…Honey, where’s my phone? Anyone…anyone else? We’ve let this become the norm in my home, which we all need to work on! But, this whole experience of me lacking in the speaking department is requiring us all to step it up and actually Make. Eye. Contact. So, questions must be asked face-to-face rather than in passing down the hallway. A challenge for us…a very worthwhile challenge…to show a new level of respect and patience for each member of this family.
4. A smile speaks volumes! It really does!! All weekend, when I felt like I had zilch to offer, I gave a smile and I got smiles and hugs and prayers and new friends and fresh opportunities and more business cards…and more than I’m even sure I can recount! I could’ve just stayed in the corner with a sour-puss face. But I would’ve missed out! I’m SO glad I chose to hand out smiles when my words couldn’t come!
5. Receive grace graciously. Everyone was so sweet and understanding! Not one single person left the conversation or felt like they couldn’t talk with me because I wasn’t able to speak. I felt bathed in their grace! It was refreshing and helped me realize that being voiceless doesn’t equate to being a waste or a nuisance.
6. Embrace humility. Once home, I went out to eat with my family and realized it was a bit difficult to totally rely on my husband to speak for me…order my drink and my soup…find the waitress and ask for refills. All these little, everyday things I had to release to another. A bit difficult…a bit humbling.
7. Consider those who have no voice. And in the state of my temporary voicelessness, I walked the long hallway of good causes representing many people who live lives of voicelessness. Children orphaned or sold into slavery…widows blamed for their husbands’ death, left to labor so their children can have one meal every few days …women trapped in prostitution, who know no way out. Those are the true voiceless…who need someone to listen and look into their eyes with a smile…who need to hear words of grace and intentionality…who need someone to stand up and speak on their behalf.
Is there a present inconvenience in your life that perhaps might be a tool God is using to get your attention?
One sponsor of this conference that stood out to me was Gospel for Asia. Over the next 40 weeks, I will be sharing stories from this amazing organization. I would love for you to take a look and then come back and meet me here each week to see how lives are being touched and changed forever!
The message of identity is near to my heart so much that I have written a Bible study called Refining Identity. Please take a look at ways you can be involved in helping bring this to life! Thank you for partnering with me to make this a reality. I pray this message will be shared with each person who needs to hear God’s definition of who they are!