It took me years to find my voice. Literally.
Growing up, my parents used to tell me stories about how they were concerned about my development because I never talked. According to them, I didn’t say much if anything at all. I didn’t do the usual cooing or chattering that only babies can understand. And I didn’t utter the early words of “mama,” “daddy,” “uh-oh” and the like.
After awhile, my parents became more worried about me and had decided that I had some developmental problem. They guessed it stemmed from the fact that I was a premature baby. So they decided to make an appointment to take me to a specialist.
A few nights before taking me to the doctor, my daddy came home telling some sort of community gossip he had picked up outside his office at school that day. After repeating it, he cautioned my mother and older sister not to repeat it. Jokingly, he pointed his finger at me - while I was contentedly sitting in my high chair – and said, “You don’t repeat it either” to which I quickly replied, “Me t’aint talk!”
From then on my communications skills improved greatly. But even though I had seemingly found my ability to talk, it took me many years to learn the skill to share the words (feelings) I had tucked deep within the folds of my heart. Actually, sometimes I wonder if I ever learned that skill since I struggle with it so much. I often could find the words from my heart in my mind, but when I would try to speak them, my voice couldn’t – or maybe wouldn’t – work. So I learned to use the written word to try to explain myself. Many people accepted this; others railed against it and would often scream at me to just talk to them.
Little did they know, I felt I really couldn’t do it. Hearing the words with my voice seemed to strip the feelings away. And I never truly felt I was saying what my heart really felt in a way they could understand. Even now I’m having a difficult time putting those feelings into writing.
I was 18 years old before I finally grasped the concept that I mattered to someone outside my immediate family – that I had value and importance, significance. To this person, my existence on this planet at that moment in time was of utmost importance.
Over the years, I have learned that you have lifetime friendships and you have seasonal friendships. Unfortunately for me, I’m afraid, the most significant friendship in my young life ended up being the latter type. After time, it seemed, life took us on two different paths and we went our separate ways. My distance – both emotional and geographic for a time - didn’t mean that I cared any less for her, but my lack of communication led her to believe differently.
Sadly, I still know that person today. Although I’ve tried hard to make amends and include her in my life today, she has pretty much made it clear that I no longer have a place in her life – pretty much that she could care less now whether or not I exist. That’s a difficult thing to accept when you don’t feel the same
But I still remember that for that person, for that time in my life, I was important. Ironically, that still makes a difference today.
For the past few years, I have been diligently seeking God’s divine destiny for my life. Some may not totally understand that, wondering why I’ve been seeking God’s perfect plan for my life for years and still haven’t figured it out. First of all, I believe God has been revealing it to me in tiny glimpses – almost like jigsaw puzzle pieces. In an effort to put together the jigsaw puzzle called my life, I’ve not been able to look at the box top to see the big picture. Instead, it’s as if God allows me to put together a portion of it before that proverbial “a-ha” moment comes.
Unlike a traditional jigsaw puzzle where you have one completed product, it seems my big picture keeps changing with time. It’s not that God is trying to keep me confused by my destiny. Instead, He seems to be increasing the breadth of my big picture as the depth of my obedience to Him increases.
Recently, God has been dealing with me about being bolder with communication. Quite frankly, God has been revealing to me a list of people who I need to share some very personal information with.
That’s a difficult task for most of us. We can talk about politics, the weather and what happened on “As the World Turns,” for hours. But when it comes to matters of the heart, well, we act as if it doesn’t matter or we act as if we are afraid to face it.
It’s a risky thing to reveal to folks how we really feel. It’s almost like going to war with a Red Rider BB gun. You’re not protected after opening your heart up to others, but it’s a difficult and sometimes necessary act.
While mulling over this revelation recently, I realized that there probably are people who were like me at 18 – who desperately need to know they matter, that they have significance to someone else. And that really makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. As much as I would like to feel like someone needs me, though, I also realize that I just need to reconfirm within my own self how much I truly need many of the folks who I have to open my heart up to in time.
I know it’s a task I need to get to work on and an effort I need to complete. Even as I write this, I’m not totally certain who I need to talk to about their roles in my life. I have a few names in mind, but I don’t have a complete list. I’m hoping those who I approach will be patient and understanding with me and realize that I am truly on a mission. Likewise, I hope those I don’t approach already know their importance in my life and don’t need to be told.
Once my mission is complete, if it ever is, I may get to finally see the big picture. Or I may simply move into another mission. I don’t know which direction it will lead. I just know I intend to follow.
And the person I feel who doesn’t care if I exist or not? I pray for her on a daily basis. It’s the only way, for now, that I know to keep her active in my life. All these years later, she is still important to me. She remains significant.
Even if she won’t listen to me tell her.