Friday, June 19, 2009

The Voices in My Head

Luke 23:23, “But they kept urgently demanding with loud shouts that he should be crucified; and their voices prevailed.”

This verse was obviously taken from the context of the sentencing of Jesus in front of Pilate. I was struck by the implications of voices. Voices do such damage to our lives. They come from every avenue, everywhere I turn. The louder they are, the more of them, the more that my orientation can turn to them.

I remember while in seminary, one of the safest places to be was with the majority. Who wants to defend their views on kingdom ethics by themselves? If you had more people sharing your viewpoint, then you stood less chance of having to look wrong. So, on lazy days, you would watch the people that you thought were smart and raise your hand along with them. Then you would disappear into the background as they confidently responded to questions of theological relevance.

Now you know my coping strategies. Those were only my lazy days, of course.

This is great in a safe context, but we live in the real world. The longer I am a Christian, the more fanatic I sound because I do not trust all of the other voices. Moderate is good in some things, but moderation does not have to mean compromise. I do not trust the voices of moderates who end up looking like the post al dente pasta that I cooked this week. It is limp, no substance, even mushy…mental baby food. Lots of voices made up of mush can be loud and powerful, even well intended, but they are often empty and poorly thought out.

These voices can lull us into a trace because we get lazy. This fight that we are assigned is the hard fight. I was driving through the Target parking lot yesterday thinking about the blog that I posted. I was thinking how different my optimism is from morning to night. I told my husband that I think it could be related to my glycemic index. That seems to cover a world of shortcomings.

It is like the experience of all of these voices has jaded me in a good way, though. It has caused me to mistrust the imperfect created and orient myself on the words of the Creator. This is what happens when I read his word in the morning, when I pray about what he wants me to think about, when I blog. It is all an exercise in orienting myself to Him. It is finding His voice and setting that as my course for the rest of the day.

This is crucial because there are lots of voices during the day. They usually start when we switch on the tube. I try never to watch the TV, unless my husband is home. I heard that it is the leading cause of depression for women who stay at home, because we are unable to listen to those voices without applying them to our lives. Let me say it again…think of all of the trash that we see on TV and we cannot watch that without applying it to our lives. Would you let some of those issues in the front door of your house? NO! But we give them free reign through the portal in our wall. They get to us anyway.

Voices have power. We hear it, we compare it, we mull over it, and we get unhappy about it. There is a time to say, “Enough!” You know what? I don’t miss those voices, and I think that I am gaining some of my lost IQ points. I truly believe that now I have less interference when I need to hear God’s voice.

But they are progressive, like the frog on the stove (I hope that you know what I am talking about, if not, disregard). These voices get bigger and grow. There are just tons of them, husbands, mothers, fathers, siblings, bosses, co-workers, people who are in the service industry. By the time that we finish the day, we are bombarded…and it wears us out (unless you are an extreme introvert, you guys kill me).

To discount the value of these voices would be a mistake. We see what persistent, loud voices can accomplish in the gospels, in this passage in Luke. They offer fear and cause people to give in to the majority. We carry the most extreme example of this in our hearts, every day.

So, the voices of today, though persistent, though urgent, though demanding and loud…they are just that, voices. Prepare to hear them. They do have all the power that you allow. The key is in the initial orientation. We have to pick God’s voice out of all the other mess in our heads and recognize that familiar tone. That is the tone that we look for today. That is the voice that will prevail if we set our hearts.

Father, thank you for the sound of your voice echoing in our ears. Make your voice clear to us today. When the voices grow, let us hear only yours. Orient us to your purpose and your will.

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