Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Never Lose Your Voice

I've been sick in bed for the past three days.

I caught what my girls had, and I was down with a fever, and then a cough and body aches.

And I lost my voice.

It became a scratchy, raspy whisper.

When I lost my voice . . .
  • I couldn't teach my class at church.
  • I couldn't sing "Baby Mine" to Grace or read to the children at night.
  • I couldn't carry on after-school conversations around the kitchen table.
  • I couldn't talk on the phone with my mom. (She used to be able to carry the conversation, but she's been in a bit of a fog lately, and she can't remember what to say.)
  • I couldn't cheer Ethan on at his basketball game.  (I just kept pointing to the little photo button of him that I was wearing and giving him double thumbs up.)
  • I had to cancel our Power of Moms Radio show for the week.
  • And a tele-class I was supposed to record for another parenting website.
  • And a podcast with the lovely Katrina Kenison (who I'm so excited to interview).
  • I couldn't return voice mails or answer the phone when the Kindergarten teacher called to tell me Spencer had a big bump on his head (he was fine).
  • I couldn't go to lunch with a new friend.
It's been kind of sad.

But then last night, I hit a low when I started looking at all the balls I've been dropping since I got sick.  (SO sorry if you were involved with one of those balls.)

Emails are stacking up in my inbox.

A bunch of projects are at a standstill.

Our children haven't been on top of all their responsibilities since they've been sick, too, and I haven't set consequences in place well enough to really make sure they do all their jobs, so they know I'll usually pick up the slack, but since I'm sick, I haven't been able to, and SO many things are being left undone, and my husband is feeling a little frustrated, as well.  (Sorry for the run-on sentence.)

I consider myself to be a pretty strong person, but by the end of last night, I was ready to call it quits.

I was coughing deeply, retching into the sink and dizzily walking back and forth in my bedroom, with crazy hair and mismatched pajamas, trying not to collapse in tears.

Eric had no idea what was going on in my head, and I tried to explain it to him, but all that came out was, "I'm just trying to do too much.  I can't do everything.  Would it really matter if I just stopped doing all this? I'm just tired of trying to do so many things that might not even make that big of a difference, and sometimes I just want to stop."

He held me and talked me through this low point--saying all the right things and getting me to settle into a steady breathing pattern.

And then a soft voice came into my mind, reminding me of something I already knew about the adversary--or something I should have known.

April, he wants you to lose your voice.

"But I already have lost my voice," I thought.

And then it clicked.

We weren't talking about my literal voice.  We were talking about my other voice . . . my real voice.

And this is a war in which every single one of us is a part.

We've each been given an ability to express ourselves, to lift others, to offer encouragement, to extend support, to stand up for what we feel is right.  And each person uses his or her voice in a unique way.

It happens through music, through quiet conversations, through genuine smiles, through writing, and sometimes just by "being there."

But the grand plan of the adversary is to convince us all to deliberately lose our voices.

Because then he thinks he wins.

I sat on my bed for a long time and thought about that.

And then I apologized to God for letting myself act like such a quitter.

Of course there's no need to overdo it, and I need to seriously adjust my expectations when I'm sick, but giving up my voice can no longer be an option.

This blog is my safest and easiest place to share my voice.  I like that it's small and kind of out-of-the-way.  I like that the people who read and comment are my friends who have a lot of great advice and solid perspectives on the world.

And today I would really like to hear what you do when you feel like I do.

How do you keep using your voice, even when it's hard? 

How do you make sure you'll never lose it?

I appreciate the strength you give to me.

Much love,
April

7 comments:

  1. I just can't believe you are doing a podcast with Katrina Kenison!! I LOVE, LOVE her since I was introduced to her books a few years ago. In fact, just on Monday I was at lunch with someone (from the ID retreat) talking about what a great keynote she'd be at a POM event. Very exciting!!

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  2. April,
    Thank you for sharing this tender experience. It seems lately I have been trying to make myself loose my voice...because lately I have had a hard time with always yelling at my kids. So it really has been my goal to talk less and do more. Do more positive and less nagging and reminding. I really appreciate this perspective you shared because it is so true. Satan does want me to loose MY voice, my positive, loving, nurturing voice- THAT is the real me. That is my real voice. This other "me" when I loose it and yell all the time just makes me feel sick. But so much of the time it is what is easy, it is what is natural. "The natural man is an enemy to God." And when I think back on my bad days and think of how much of the natural man I let control me, I do feel like an enemy to God. I need to let the real me, my spirit, MY voice be in control. Why is that so hard? I guess it is all part of the test of this life.
    The other thing that is hard is remembering. These wonderful special moments like you just shared are what build us up as a person, they build us into what God wants us to be...but soooooo often the next day I will make more mistakes, I will forget that special experience that I just had and all that I learned. It is like I just slid all the way back to square one again. This is why it is so important for us to keep journals of these teaching moments and that we review them often and that we pray hard every day that these lessons will sink into who we are and that we will not forget them. Thank you so very much for sharing what you have learned. It has helped me with exactly what I needed today. (sorry for the rambling comment) You inspire me. Thank you.
    -your friend(from afar)
    Katie Kennington

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    Replies
    1. Katie, you brought up such a great point here! I love that you recognized that our positive, loving, nurturing voice is the "real" one that each mother doesn't want to lose. Voice control is one of the hardest things to do (because it's so easy to sound annoyed or angry or frustrated), but don't you find that when you can get your voice to sound right, then your actions follow?

      You are doing great! Thanks for your sweet comment.

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  3. Oh April, you are amazing. You have such a strong and important voice that has and will continue to influence your family and friends as well as thousands upon thousands of mothers. Satan is bound to work on you every which way he can. But your spirit is so strong that all Satan can really manage is to make you feel overwhelmed and frustrated for brief periods of time. What you're doing every day with your family and with the many lives you touch in person and over the internet really matters. And doubts, sickness, tiredness are all just temporary situations you need to deal with and plow through, giving yourself the breaks you need. Great things are always waiting for you on the other side of the hard moments! I'm incredibly blessed to know you and to work with you and to have you as my dear friend.

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  4. Being sick at the same time as being a mom is so hard! I'm so sorry it's been a tough couple of weeks. I always thought there should be a clause in motherhood that says we can send our kids "home" to heaven for safe keeping during 3 sick days each year!

    In answer to your question...I think that we have to surround ourselves with friends and loved ones that believe in us and can take their turn being the strong one when we need a few minutes to be weak. Your husband played that role beautifully & helped you find your strength again.

    I am one little person that believes in your voice and your efforts! You helped to point me on a journey that has made motherhood something I appreciate and cherish instead of resent. Thank you!

    I love the insights that you share from your hardest moments! Thanks for being brave enough to share the not-so-pretty stuff. It makes me feel normal!

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  5. April this post was incredible! I am truly feeling that battle myself. Does my voice matter? Where is it best directed at? How do I overcome the reachings and pullings of some many things for it? How do I overcome discouragement when it just doesn't seem like enough?
    I too find that the place that I can work out my thoughts and where my perspective always seem to realign is when I am writing. That Spirit rushes in to testify, thoughts piece together and I can see a bigger picture. I have found that through sharing my voice, others feel similarly to me and we can lift one another. I am very grateful for our new friendship and that lunch will happen, very very soon I hope!!!

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  6. Just so you know your voice has changed me and made me a much more fulfilled and better Mother! Don't ever let anyone steal that from you! And I have just fallen in love with Katrina Kenison's books in the last month! I cannot wait to hear that interview!

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