It was getting to be an obsession, this listening and waiting for the sound. A high-pitched whining noise always came 10-15 seconds after we flushed the toilet. The unwanted noise was driving my kids and me crazy. We couldn’t stand it.
I started wondering why my husband wasn’t itching to get it fixed. He’s capable of home repairs and appreciates fixtures working correctly. Why wasn’t this driving him crazy too?
And then I remembered that he couldn’t hear the sound.
He was not bothered by what he could not hear.
This idea pressed upon me as I thought about all the voices we hear as we walk through life.
We feel distressed, twisted in knots and insecure, by the negative messages we hear. We hear criticism about our behavior and we become self-conscious about how we show how we are. We receive criticism about our ideas and we let it sink into our hearts to take root in our identity. We hear a particular label enough times and put it on like a worn t-shirt.
Words can hurt us. Words can bring death.
Sometimes the more powerful voices are the messages we hear in our heads. Maybe these are messages we have heard verbally in years past that now reach out from our memories to claim a spot in the present. Maybe these are messages straight from the enemy of our soul, intent on crippling us. Whatever the source, these messages swirl in our minds. No one else hears these messages, no one else can help us recognize the falsehood. The lie goes unchecked, swirling around and digging in roots until it seems like it must be the truth.
“You’re just too loud, too opinionated, too full of dreams, too critical.”
“Most people don’t really like you, once they get to know you.”
“They will see right through you. It’s better not to put yourself out there.”
“You will probably fail at this too.”
“You’re not helpful enough or thoughtful enough or smart enough or brave enough.”
How do we fight against these voices – the ones that attack from the outside world and the ones that attack us from inside our own minds?
If we can’t hear the lies, they lose their power.
We are not bothered by what we can’t hear.
To drown out these voices, we have to be able to listen to something else.
We need another voice in there, one that carries more authority. There is one. The voice that spoke the world into creation, who called dead back to life, who can call each of us by name. The voice of the One who takes away all the shame and guilt, the fears and the what-ifs. His voice is steady, His promises true.
When the crowds demanded that He tell them plainly who He was, Jesus said,
“My sheep listen to my voice; I know them and they follow me.”John 10:27 (ESv)
We can train our ears to listen to the sound of our Good Shepherd instead of the voices that would lead us astray. This takes training because we keep checking on what the other voices say to us. Just as I kept listening for the annoying whine, we tune our ears to hear the voices we know, the voices speak poison to our hearts.
For too many years I listened to the voice that told me no one liked me once they got to know me. I would hear about a gathering I was not invited to or receive a cancellation from a friend who did not have time for coffee and the merciless whine would start. “See, they don’t really like you.” There was no logic, no rationale, no reality check. The lie would ring in my ears and highjack my heart.
The lie still whines its terrible message. But I don’t listen to it anymore. I choose not to hear it. Instead, I listen for the song of my Father who rejoices over me with singing (Zephaniah 3:17 NIV). I listen to the voice of my Savior who declared “It is finished” when He gave up His life to redeem mine (John 19:30 NIV). I choose to listen to the voice of the One who loves me to the extent that He stopped at nothing so that I might have eternal life (John 3:16 NIV).
This can be the voice that we chose to listen to. The lies might not disappear. The whine from the water pump has not disappeared; I simply choose not to listen for it anymore. It’s there if I give it my attention. But I don’t.
And yet sometimes the terrible messages seem to be all we can hear.
Dear one, I know very well the loneliness that comes when the voice of our Savior seems silent, when I can’t hear him above the crowds. When I sat in a season of this loneliness, I found encouragement from a friend who listened as I voiced the false message I believed about myself. She didn’t brush aside my lie-burdened heart. Instead, she said, “Yeah, me too.” And then we talked about what we knew to be true from Scripture about who we are. We reminded each other about what is true about our Good Father. We declared the praises of the Son who has restored us to a right relationship with Him.
Sometimes we need the reminder, we need the people of God to be His hands and feet to our hurting hearts. We need the truth spoken to us verbally to help drown out the lies that sound urgent.
By God’s graceful provision, I let her encouraging voice lead me back to my Shepherd when the lies try to pull me away. I have chosen what I will listen to so that I might walk in abundant life.
Maybe today my voice can help you to hear the voice of Jesus calling you into abundant life. Choose with me to listen for His voice regardless of what the other voices say.