The sacred, the stillness, the steady reminder of our soul that speaks to us in the most inopportune times, tells us when we are (or are not) on the right track, when danger is ahead, when you should proceed with caution. This is the innermost trusted voice of my being that I refer to as my “gut”, my “spirit”, my “internal voice”. Regardless the name, we all know it, we all feel it, we all have it. How do we know we can trust it? How do we know whether it will lead us to a path of freedom or fear? These are the questions I often ask when my internal voice, gut, spirit starts talking, “are you hear to help or hurt?”, when this voice speaks, I listen.
Truth. This has been my key to proceeding forward when faced with the internal dialogue that can make my stomach turn, head ache and appetite suppress. What is your internal voice speaking over you? Is it healthy? Is it loving? Is it hopeful? When the answer to these questions is no, it is often not the truth. It is not His truth, therefore, it is not your truth. A voice, a thought, a feeling that has you possibly hurting yourself or others is a voice you must reject, but not ignore. These feelings you are having are legitimate, real but not healthy. These thoughts, feelings, can leave you feeling lost, hurting and alone. A deadly combination to self destruction. As spoken from John himself, “the truth shall set you free”, and this my friends is the key to the puzzle. Sifting through our thoughts to carefully place them in the truth or trash category is a critical part in moving forward, taking the next step. Take the thought captive, hold it in your mind, meditate on it and find it’s source. Before we open our minds to speak, to release our thoughts, we have to fully engaged on the ramifications of how others may hear or receive them? A thought that makes you uncomfortable is not necessarily unhealthy. In fact, I have found, sometimes it is the truth that does make us squirm, step out of comfort and into the righteous (right with God). The right thing is sometimes saying ‘no’ to someone you love because a ‘yes’ can cause more harm. It can be standing your ground and not giving in to what would be easy or convenient. It can be speaking up against an injustice that is being played out in broad daylight. It can look like advocacy, protesting, punishment and pain. Doing the right thing is not necessarily going to get you a gold star. It’s not going to always be received by a warm hug or standing ovation. Doing the right thing, taking the stance, listening to the internal voice of truth is going set you free, it’s going to set you a part. This is our one life, our one chance to try to get it right. To do what is right, not just for ourselves but for our brothers and sisters. Our children. This is the time to get uncomfortable, to take a stance, to make a difference.
For me this looks like saying ‘no’ to someone I love because their actions are hurting themself and those around them. This looks like advocating for children that don’t have a voice but so badly need to be represented. This looks like putting a safe space between myself and those that wreak havoc with their destructive choices and hurtful words. This looks like putting myself in uncomfortable spaces to bring comfort and peace to those who are hurting.
This isn’t always easy for me friends. I am a non-confrontational, make everyone happy, people pleaser at it’s finest. Saying ‘yes’ is often my comfort zone, while I have mastered the art of saying ‘no’ to avoid extreme exhaustion (this will be a whole other blog.) I seem to surround myself with those who I know will agree with me and carry my values as their own. While this may definitely keep me out of the ‘controversial’ space I so desperately loathe, this is not a guarantee for peace. The reality of this world is that difficult people and struggling souls will always find their way back in and this is where I, we, must be prepared. First, avoiding those that think or feel differently is not healthy. This is putting us in a box that does not allow room for growth, ministry or understanding others circumstances. Having individuals in your life that challenge you, question you and disagree with you, while uncomfortable, is a part of life. This is often where we can do our greatest work. This is where we can display grace, mercy, self-control.
So as you are faced today with that difficult person, difficult circumstance or difficult feeling that leaves you restless and uneasy, just be still. Sit with your thoughts. Is it speaking life over you and the ones around you? Does it speak the truth of loving people? Does it show gentleness, love and forgiveness? Will saying ‘no’ to their behavior mean saying ‘yes’ to their life? Are you investing in the people around you to be the healthiest they can be? Are you enabling them to continue with their destructive behavior or are you getting uncomfortable and speaking up for them? Love does not mean saying yes. Love does not mean allowing the hurtful behavior. Love does not mean keeping the peace to avoid conflict. Love means standing up for those who are hurting and telling them what they may not want to hear but need to hear. Love means saying ‘no’ because you care enough to not allow this behavior anymore. Love means speaking to them in a way that lifts them up and does not tear them down. Love means loving them enough when they don’t love themselves.
I hear my inner voice, I feel the inner struggle and I see the truth that it is speaking into my soul. I see that it is breathing life and not death. I see that it is loving and not harmful. I see that it is full of hope and not hurt. I acknowledge that I need to have that uncomfortable conversation. I need to tell that person, I love dearly, that I can not do what they want because it is hurting them and hurting me. I get to be a voice of reason that will probably feel like a voice of rejection. I get to be love. I get to be grace. I get to be kindness. I get to be strong. While this strength may come with hurt, I know that I am following the truth that will set me free. I am not abandoning my values to make those around me comfortable. I am standing up for love, I am standing up for you. I am standing up for me.
learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow’s cause. (Isiah 1:17)
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