Hearing voices is not necessarily a mental health issue but it can certainly do a number on our wellbeing. You know when those brain tapes of hurtful comments from our parents, our exes, or our nemeses play over over and over again? It’s not helpful.
Why don’t our brains replay happy tapes over and over again? Most of us have heard at least one person in our lives express words of delight about us: “You look wonderful!” “You did an amazing job!” But we toss those aside and only remember the ones that we secretly believe could be true: “You are worthless.” “Nobody wants you.” Ugh. Crazy-making.
Those voices have enormous power to perpetuate lies, crush souls, and weaken resolve. They fuel depression and destroy self-confidence.
So, here’s a case for practicing spiritual exercises:
When we recognize our value as human beings, the ugly voices quiet and there is space for God’s Voice – that Voice that still says:
Do not fear, for I am with you, do not be afraid, for I am your God;
You are precious in my sight, and honored, and I love you, I give people in return for you, nations in exchange for your life.
I could go on and on with these comforting messages from Scripture but that’s for another time.
Vincent Van Gogh famously said, “If you hear a voice within you say ‘you cannot paint’ then by all means paint and that voice will be silenced.” But what if you really can’t paint – at least like Vincent Van Gogh?
The quick answer is that anybody can paint, but not everyone has a special gift in painting.
In my faith tradition we believe that the Voice of God speaks through our spiritual community and affirms that we have gifts in teaching, preaching, praying, counseling, shepherding, administrating, etc. It’s also true that sometimes the community has gotten it wrong. Best examples:
- Women who have been called to professional ministry but are told that it couldn’t possibly be God’s will because “women can’t be spiritual leaders.” (Note: this is not true.)
- LGBTQ people who have been called to professional ministry – as well as a full, valued, much-beloved life in general – even though they are told it couldn’t possibly be God’s will. (Note: this is not true either.)
Sometimes the Church gets it wrong. God calls us to Pay Attention because – even if we believe that women or trans people or whomever (i.e. “lesser people”) are outside the realm of God’s calling it’s essential to notice whom God called throughout Scripture: broken people, unclean people, tax collectors, eunichs, – oh, and lots of women.
But that’s not what this post is about.
This post is about the voices out in the world – and then subsequently in our heads – that tell us we are unworthy and unacceptable. Hurtful words feel like kicks to the gut, especially when no one steps up to offer support. We were born to love each other in community but sometimes we speak words to each other that destroy that community. We even do this in Church.
Speaking the truth is good. Speaking the truth in love is best. Speaking words that bolster ourselves while destroying someone else is evil.
Let’s not do that. Let’s not be a voice for destruction that will land in somebody’s psyche for years to come. And let’s not let those voices of destruction set up camp in our own psyche either.
What voices are you hearing in your head today? I hope they are dipped in authentic beauty and delight because you are totally worth it.