Your Voice

Your voice, as distinct as a fingerprint, gives you the chief instrument you will use throughout your life to engage and perhaps change the world. It does so through formal language symbols, as well as grunts and groans, laughter, singing, sighing, crying, coughs, whistles, and whispers.

         That’s why your voice (oral, written, artistic, or praying) is one of the greatest treasures in your life. It allows you to send your unique message to your family, community, place of worship, nation, the world, history, and to God. How you use your voice is a very big deal. 

         My brother, Vernon, a retired Sheriff, says, “The right to remain silent is one of our most precious freedoms. Everyone should try it.” My friend Glen Roachelle once said something similar to me, “You don’t have to condemn anything. Just be silent.” I’ve found those twin words of counsel to be excellent guides for living.

The Creative Voice 

God spoke the whole universe into existence (see Psalm 33:6, Hebrews 11:3, other scriptures). That is how He creates. Because we humans are fashioned in His image, we too possess creative vocal power. Our words live. Like seeds, they create new life when they fall into receptive soil. 

         So, whether your message, your song, is delivered as a solo or as a member of the trio or choir, you can walk through the world releasing words that create, encourage, and bless. Think of it, when you speak a confident and smiling “Good morning” to your spouse and children, you just designed the environment of their whole day. And you can do that at the gym, your workplace, restaurants, and every other place in your daily path.   

         So, if you hold the historic power to create such fine results, why would you allow others to draft your voice into the army of their reactions? Just because others choose to speak for or against current events doesn’t mean I need to speak about them. My voice does not belong to our national echo chamber. 

         When I venture into Facebook or other sites in the public square, I don’t stand up for America, Trump, Biden, Christianity, or my mom. Why? Because wisdom says every “yes” is also a “no.” Therefore, if I take the time to speak or write about Dr Fauci, I have to say “no” to my own voice and vocation. Jesus said He only spoke what He heard His Father speak. That means He had to say “no” to many other people and purposes—even good ones.

Your Signature Sound

But it goes deeper than that. Your signature sound comes through life experiences that excavate deep caverns in your heart. When specific (and often painful) things hit you—the fatality car wreck, a promotion, the birth of your child, a miscarriage, that award, or bankruptcy—they dig new spaces in your life. Forever after, when air pushes up through the subterranean formations of your life (like the collapsed mineshaft of a longstanding dream), it creates vocal sounds unlike any other human on earth. 

         That’s why we usually know after one syllable or sigh if we can trust the one speaking—we hear a tone, a resonance, that delivers critically important reconnaissance. Just by the sound that came booming (or creeping) up out of his or her underground zone. After working with James Earl Jones in the 1990s, I learned the truth of his famous voice. It rumbles out of the bedrock integrity of his life.

Caring for Your Voice

A well-known singer explained to me the great care she must maintain over her vocal capacities. Specifically, she must prepare sufficiently, pace herself, get enough hydration and sleep, cool down after a performance, and find proper rest and recovery time. Like an athlete, she spends more time training and protecting than playing on the field. 

         When she told me that, I had to question if I value and respect my voice enough to focus on caring for it as she does. I also had to ask why I think I have the time and strength to criticize others, indulge controversy, or engage trivial matters.

         I know some people have a prophetic or activist gift. They speak out as they do because God created them that way. I salute them. But I also know the centrifuge of our times pull many others away from their creative purpose. It spins them out into the orbit of things they cannot possibly create, repair, or even influence.

         But, closer to home, we all have the great honor of dropping words into the human hearts we encounter each day. That is a very high and noble calling. Might be worth working in that realm for the new year coming up. 

22 thoughts on “Your Voice”

  1. Ed – thank you for capturing in a few paragraphs a lifetime of insight and wisdom. I’m be mulling over this through the holidays. A great end of year tone.

    1. Thank you so much, Rex. So much of what I learned came through and beside you. I appreciate the miles and the memories.

  2. YES!!
    Thank you for this Ed. Thanks for lifting your voice and encouraging me to do the same!
    Blessings friend,
    David Baroni

    1. You did it very well before we even met. I deeply appreciate you and Rita and our years of friendship. Thank you for taking the time to read it and response.

  3. Ed, I know first hand how important the voice is! For over 2 years after her surgery Verna had no voice and then when technology allowed her to whisper, it was a poor shadow of her former voice. It changed her life forever! She could no longer sing, or pray out loud or do her job. Even with her whisper people couldn’t hear her a a noisy setting. You can never know what not having a voice means until you don’t have one!

    1. Oh, this is so true. I did think of Verna as I wrote this. She approached the adversity of a lost voice with such style and grace. That’s a true example. Thanks, Paul.

  4. Ed, I especially appreciated your insight about the performer/athlete spending more time practicing or protecting than actual time on the field. Time pondering what I believe and why I believe about most anything is generally of far greater value than any audible or written verbiage. In today’s society silence is a rare gift.

    1. Oh, yes. You’re so right. That’s why I enjoy sitting with you. Your words mean something. You don’t take or speak them lightly. I look forward to seeing you next week.

    1. Thanks, Brian. You and I have known some large voices in our time. I was (and remain) glad to share the journey with you.

  5. I’m reminded of the adage which goes something like this: “Share your testimony of Christ’s work in your life. And if necessary, use words.”

    As a psychologist, I’ve see first hand the power of listening, the kind of listening with the heart that connects with the speaker. But, when the listener speaks, there is often a profound silence in the chatterer. Insight comes. The unknown is revealed. Healing occurs. Only the Holy Spirit is capable of this life-changing work in a therapeutic session — through both avenues of listening and using the voice.

    1. Oh, that’s so good. I’ve seen that happen, but never articulated it. Listening in silence does have a way of drawing out the toxicity. Thank you so much. Now if I can only remember it! 🙂

  6. I love the idea that every yes is also a no. So important in noticing my priorities and aiming for authenticity.

    1. Thanks, Sheryl. So true. We often think of “no” as negative. And it is. But it can and often does deliver a larger and more purposeful “YES.”

  7. Well! This is really excellent stuff, Ed. You remind me that we don’t need to compete for the same air space. Each voice contributes a powerful, unique inflection with its own irreplaceable weight. If a voice is muted, our world wobbles just a bit more.

    1. Had not thought of how our culture (in part through social media) so naturally gathers people into the same space. Good perspective. The last sentence is eloquent and bold. Thanks, Craig.

  8. I’m thinking of what happens to a voice when it has been suppressed. When it finally comes forth, there’s no stopping it, whether of the marginalized in society or of those who’ve lacked authority in a chain of command. What comes out may cause more harm than good. Impulse takes over and the right words are hard to find. The sound can be deafening.

    1. Really good point. Obviously, true, as anyone of historical sense knows. Your comment reminds me of Dallas Willard’s book, “Renovation of the Heart.” Thanks.

  9. As my 7th grade teacherCharles Friend, once told us: “Sometimes it is better to remain silent and be thought to be dumb, than to speak and remove all doubt”. I find this is smart advice when tempted to post on social media.

    1. Yes, I try to live like that. As an editor, I’m the dumbest guy in the room. That’s why I ask questions. Lots. And I certainly agree about social media posting. Thanks, Dewey.

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