Tuesday, September 3, 2013

When A Woman Finds Her Voice


Stepping Up to the Plate - Using My Voice

"They saw what seemed to be 
                        tongues of fire that separated 
                                            and came to rest on each of them."      Acts 2:30

My eyes came to rest on this verse. I glanced at my candle with its two wicks engulfed in flames. The verse's truth touching that deep place within me. Tongues of fire came to rest on each of them. The Holy Spirit was there at Pentecost coming down to minister in and through the people. Peter was explaining this phenomenon to the wondering crowd. The words stopped me. I have been thinking about voices a lot lately. The use of the word "tongues" making me think of my own tongue. Seems like I've been doing a lot of talking lately. Divine appointments.

Thinking back through my week I thought of the diversity of moments, each with its voice speaking brightly through the fog of daily living.  It's amazing to find one's voice in the ordinary and the unexpected moments in life. My week held several of them.

In a facebook private message: "I need someone to talk to who has spiritual understanding. No one seems to be around. Are you available? Can you call me?" He was in the midst of a series of circumstances unfolding in rapid succession, all with spiritual out-workings that happened immediately after a prompting of which he had followed. "I'm going to get emotional," his voice quivered, "Thanks for talking with me."  It was scary stuff in a way. An overwhelming sense of being in the middle of God at work when He chooses to use "you." This man is a fairly new believer in Christ. I knew my voice was calming, helping him to make sense of the situations and with a caution to help him prepare for the conflicts which are sure to follow. These occurrences prove this man is sensitive to God's quiet voice.

At a high school reunion: There was the middle-aged woman who was "high" on her drug of choice. She confided in me, a stranger. Her pain came out in a low whisper, "I just found out I have cancer." I was thinking to myself, I better say something, we're talking about possible death in her near future. I found my voice saying to her, "God loves you. Trust Him. I know He will help you." She tried to access my words, asking me what I meant, repeating the same questions multiple times. My response was the same. "God really loves you." My eyes penetrated hers.  I tried to connect. The tears were way back behind her eyes, hidden from view, yet I could see them. Her shield was in place, but she was listening and seemed to be focusing. I continued, "Do you understand what I'm saying?" I needed to know she was with me. "I've been through hard times. I know what it is to struggle. But, I do know God loves us. He will help you if you turn to Him."  She asked me to clarify, "What do you mean?" I touched her arm and spoke kindly with her. I asked God for the words. He supplied them. And, then the moment was over.

Another conversation with a man I knew in high school: We were talking and he was answering my query as I asked him what he's been up to since I last saw him back in 1984 when he was working in a hospital where my two-year old son was in traction. "I moved to Hawaii in 1985. I found something there that changed my life." He paused and smiled at me. 
     "Yes?" I asked. 
     "I found Jesus, " His smile was engaging.
"Wonderful! I'm a believer too. Tell me about it." A beautiful conversation emerged. He and I talked and talked, about how God heals and works in our lives to help us deal with our stuff. How God puts people in our paths who need the Lord. How we can be limited as public servants in careers in the public arena. It was then that the lady I already mentioned came over to us, put her hands on our arms and spoke to both of us. She looked at me, asking, "Do I know you?"  Her words collided and were senseless, the drug overpowering her ability to put words together. Then a rational sentence, "You guys are different that anyone else here. What is it with you?" 

It seemed as if it was a God-thing, an answer to an earlier prayer when I asked God to direct my conversations for the evening. I asked Him to take over for me. Silently I began to pray that God would reach in and help this woman hear my words, "God loves you." I could see emotional pain by her reactions, her lack of willingness to say what was troubling her. I spoke to it as best I could. In truth, it would have been easier to brush her aside, to ignore her in her present condition so I could return to my conversations. She had interrupted a conversation that was just getting interesting. I felt impatient, annoyed. Yet, I knew she could be the reason I was there at the event. Looking back on it, I believe if I had chosen to keep quiet it would have been  wrong of me, hiding my light under a bushel. I felt it strongly. This lost woman needs God. He knows her heart and He's calling her name.

An incoming text on my cell phone while I was cooking dinner: It was from a young woman who has a husband who drinks too much. She was thinking about  leaving her husband. The last three words told me to act. She texted,"I need help."I had anticipated this day from an earlier conversation. To know what to say when the crisis would come, I had asked a recovering alcoholic, an AA sponsor, what I should tell her if she should ask for my help. I love both her and her husband. Again, my voice began to speak via text messages. I responded with care, concern, and a small bit of sage advice. In some ways I can identify with her for I understand this pain of trying to do the right thing in a difficult situation. She is thinking about the welfare of her children.  Life is confusing, hard, pressing on people's emotions. Every decision has a ramification. Later in the week we talked on the phone.

I was relaxing on the couch. I began to preview a new book my much anticipated "date" for Labor Day's evening hours, When A Woman Finds Her Voice, by Jo Ann Fore.  It wasn't long before I was identifying with this woman's personal journey. In some respects, it has been my journey, too. The wounded person who finds her freedom. Jo Ann Fore's words are powerful.
"But, emotions can heal if we give them voice. Any freedom I experience in my life comes only because I intentionally choose to allow God's love and his truths to shape me."
So true. Anyone who's been there knows that this is true.  Her heart-felt statements written with purposed meaning speak in a quiet succinct voice throughout the book's fabric, unfolding the ways and means for a person to access spiritual healing.
"True emotional healing lies somewhere between intentional choices and divine intervention, a function of surrender, faith, trust, and action."
"It wasn't the discovery process I imagined it would be--not an individual journey but rather one with a communal impact. Funny how when you start to believe your voice matters, it starts to matter, becomes a healing light in the darkest of places." 
"I'm gut-transparent about the cuts on my soul because I have benefited from the healing power that lies in this sort of exchange. Those times others have shared the messiness of their lives, those were the times I finally realized I wasn't alone. The times I found the courage to confront my own mess." 
When A Woman Finds Her Voice explains the reason for finding your voice in a world of many voices. Even when it is uncomfortable to do so. That is the message that is given as a gift in the midst of this overcomer's story. The author wants all women to know that this is true. It is true. My short stories attest to the truth of this message. When God began to heal me of my emotional wounds I would find out--that now I can speak because now I have something to say. Now I know God's touch, not just by an intellectual knowledge, but by His personal intervention. God responds to my reaching out to Him. 

I stopped reading. It was a reflective moment. My thoughts were on my life. The book's message hit the mark. God uses imperfect people like me. I was thinking about what is next in my life. A sense of peace was overflowing in the room while I pondered the real truth of why God uses our stories. We are here for a reason, to do what we are supposed to do. It is a divine privilege to speak with our God-given voices.

"They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated 
                                          and came to rest on each of them."  Acts 2:30 

Amazon Book LInk is HERE

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