We all have voices in our lives that we give authority to. We know that there are things we don’t understand, and that there are others who have more experience than us. We tend to give their words more weight than others. When we’re sick, we trust the voice of our mother or our doctor over a random stranger we meet at the store, unless we’re at a health food store… they get a little more weight than the bagger at the grocery store. In a world of unknowns, this is just what we do. It’s the best we got.
And when it comes to spiritual things, it is no different. Sometimes we are told we need to trust this voice or that voice, they’ve claimed authority for themselves and told us we can’t live without them. Other times there’s just something in our souls that says, “That guy knows something I don’t know.” And we listen. We test their words against our internal compass. We try them on and see how it fits. We taste it and see how it tastes. And if we’re given enough room to find our own path, we keep the good fruit and leave the bitter behind.
Some people market their fruit with a good dose of shame thrown in for free. If you don’t listen something bad will happen to you. You’re too dumb to be able to make this decision for yourself. Stuff like that. Of course, I can rationally see that those voices are accusatory, and as such do not belong in my loving universe. Yet, I often succumb to the shame and fear because the voices that swirl around me, dressing up bitter fruit as nourishing, can be loudly overwhelming or subtly crafty. Developing discernment takes time, trail and error, patience, and a whole hell of a lot of grace.
Some of us have grown up in environments that are almost constantly warning us to not be deceived. We perceive enemies all around us, and the world as dangerous. We even doubt our own deeply grounded sense of knowing. But then, in a moment of infinite mercy, a voice breaks through with love to the center of our hearts and tells us we’re okay. Someone in our world, or something in our souls, speaks clearer than the muddled voices of self-doubt and accusation. We instantly feel whole, and in awe at the mystery of this feeling of being completely awake.
My wakefulness comes and goes, but if I’ve felt it even one time I know it’s possible. I might start to chase that feeling, and the chase keeps me in a state of fervor that can make me miss what’s already always there waiting for me. Then, in the very moment I stop searching, it’s right where I left it. And I begin to learn what it means to have faith. To trust that underneath the tide, the waves, and even the storm, there are calm waters.
I recently watched Season 2 Episode 4 of The Chosen. I’ve really enjoyed this show about Jesus’ life. This episode tells the story of the man who was healed at the Pool of Bethesda. The writing for this scene was exactly what I needed to hear. I needed a kind and loving voice to give me permission to stop waiting for a miracle at a pool I didn’t really believe in, trust my wanting to be healed, and just stand up into my own faith. Take a look…
It’s not always easy to believe in myself. It’s not always easy to dismiss the voices that accuse and shame and frighten. It’s easy to become skeptical of my own inner light if there are enough other voices telling me to doubt myself because it doesn’t match their version of what is right.
I don’t know how to permanently get rid of those voices. But I do know that with faith and trust in a loving universe, something will eventually break through. And I can be content knowing that those moments of clarity do come. I can even enjoy the in-betweens because I know that underneath it all I am held securely in love. And when I don’t know, I can sit still and listen to my heart. It remembers. I remember.
There will always be those who judge. There will always be those who believe they have special authority to tell me what they think about me. There will always be those who seek to silence me or stop me from living according to my true self, stuck in their own fear, suffering from their own voices of doubt and shame. In time, they will be healed too. And until then, I can say, “Report whatever you want. I am standing on two legs!”