Now that I have a 4-year-old boy, Finn, and 6-year-old girl, Evie, I love watching how children interact and communicate. I love that meeting new kids is not a big deal for them. I love how they don’t have any walls up, they simply run up to each other and give hugs and bold introductions. “Hi, I’m Evie. What’s your name?” And then they want to PLAY…and they get to play! Together! One child says, “Let’s play!” The other responds, “Okay!” And they run and play together as if they’d known each other for years. They aren’t afraid to let their little voices be heard…if they were, they might miss out on an awesome new friendship at the playground for the next couple of hours.
Somewhere along the way, in my teenage and early adult years, I started to lose the boldness and courage in my voice that was a part of my childhood. Somewhere along the way, I got a little quieter. Or I got quieted down. Told my voice doesn’t matter. Told to be quiet. Told I was too loud. Making too much noise. Quiet down.
There are a few significant flashbacks that came to the forefront as I prayed about my voice and what has happened to my voice. My father is a brilliant man and a very dedicated hard worker. As an accomplished chemical engineer, he loved his work. While an amazing father, of course he wasn’t perfect. Jesus highlighted a memory, a flashback of sorts, in which I saw myself, in fifth grade, excitedly running up to his room, saying “Daddy, Daddy, I have something to tell you.” And sitting at his desk, my dad would be so lost in thought about his work that I wouldn’t be heard. I would try again several times to tell him something and, more often than not, I would feel so defeated by the time I finally got his distracted response, “Huh? What did you say?” that I’d give up and say, “Oh, it’s okay. It’s nothing…” and then he would keep working and I walked away silent. I think after awhile, those little things have a way of digging in and affecting us.
IT'S OKAY IF MY DAD DOESN'T HEAR ME... I CAN SEE IF SOMEONE ELSE CAN.
I dated a guy for several years in high school and college and completely fell in love with him. He was everything I was looking for at that age. I came to know Jesus in high school in Young Life, and my boyfriend didn’t. We went to separate colleges, I at University of Florida, and he at Colorado State University. I continued to be involved in Young Life, trying my best to keep my walk with Christ number one whereas he took a different path. I ended up making a life-changing decision to break up with him that spring of our freshmen year. When I came home from college that summer, I wondered, “who I would be without him in my life?” So hastily and foolishly, I made a decision to hold onto a lie, the lie that my identity is wrapped up in this guy and I’m not important unless I’m “his.” So, we got back together.
I would spend the next four months of summer in one of the most tormented emotional cycles of abuse I had ever experienced in my life. The first week was wonderful being back together and hanging out with our old high school friends, just like old times. But then everything changed. He would make a negative comment here or there about my appearance. Hmmm…maybe I need to change how I look. He would tell me to get ready for a date and I’d be all dolled up, waiting by the front door. An hour or two would pass and he’d never show. Then I’d call him and sometimes he would say, “I forgot.” Or “I know I said we’d hang out, but I felt like hanging out with my friends more.” I went through this for a few weeks and finally one night, I drove over to his house at 10pm and we talked in his driveway. I asked him why he was doing this and if he even wanted to be with me? Lots of tears. I remember every word. I remember his cold stature. He said, “You broke my heart this year, and I gave up so much to be with you when we were together…I missed out on time with my friends and I’m never giving that up again. So if you want to be with me, I will be able to do what I want, with who I want, and when I want and if you love me, you’ll take it.” I remember staring at the pavement in tears, saying to myself “Ok, if this is love, then I’ll take it. I’ll do it. I will stand by him. I won’t make a fuss. I won’t complain or question.” Without a word, I gave myself over to his control.
I ended up frantically searching for something that I could have a bit of control over that summer, and as a young woman, the obvious choice for me was to control what I ate…I would run miles and hardly eat. Or eat something small…felt better to have control over something since everything at that time seemed out of control. And I stepped into my prison and turned the key…and I listened to the voice of the Enemy who was the loudest voice in my life that summer.
BE QUIET AND JUST TAKE IT. DON’T SPEAK UP, OR HE WILL LEAVE YOU. DON'T MAKE HIM MAD. BE A DOORMAT. THIS IS THE COST OF LOVE, SO IF YOU LOVE HIM, YOU’LL NOT QUESTION THIS.
And I was quiet…I did take it…and I suffered.
Fast forward to mid-October, surrounded by my college friends who loved me and encouraged me to be brave, I ended the relationship again for good. But all that I went through that summer—the words spoken over me by him and the actions that he chose for me—found its way deep into my heart and grew roots. Roots that would grow a thicket of thorns, twisting around and protecting the lies- that I’m not worthy and neither is my voice, that I’m not important enough to be heard, and that the love I’m longing for is asking way too much.
But Jesus tenderly and gently began to pull away at those thorns and branches…and it was a painful process, but a necessary one.
Years later, in 2001, I met my husband, Erin…a long beautiful story for another time. But thank God for this man in my life and all the healing that Erin has done in my heart (and continues to do in my heart). We dated for 6+ months then ended up in a gut-wrenching break-up for several reasons, but the greatest one is that I stopped using my voice. My own identity was on the line here and Erin wasn’t willing to be a man who allowed me to change who I was for him…He would not allow me to be this meek, quiet, and small person. He saw me doing that and called me out on it, and at the time, I just took it personally and thought he was an ass! So we broke up.
I had become accustomed to changing who I was for whom I was dating at the moment. I would conform my interests, hobbies, thoughts, and voice to match who I thought that guy would want me to be. Erin challenged me, “What happened to you? The girl I met who knew who she was and was wildly running around doing her thing?” Quietly I replied, “I’m still her…” But I had to be honest with myself and look in the mirror and say, “What happened to you, Adge?” The Lord gently started speaking to me about who I am in Him. That I am Beloved, that I am Enough, that I am Seen, that I am Heard. That I am an important part of a community. That I have what it takes. That my voice is worthy and that the King of Kings listens to me. Jesus allowed me to be alone a lot during that season and I was royally broken. And I think I look back and remember wanting that season of pain to fast-forward and be done, but Jesus was there each day saying, “Today is a day to come away with me. Let me show you who are. I know how much you’re hurting, but you cannot love Erin (or anyone) until you know how much I love you and how much I love how I’ve created you. So let’s start talking about this. I want to hear what you have to say.”
There have been two times in my life that I've audibly heard the Lord’s voice, as if He was speaking over a loudspeaker to me, one was at the end of that season. Atop a Colorado mountain, I heard the Lord say, “Adge, you will never be that girl again.” And right there, the thicket of thorns that had wrapped itself around that lies in my heart was ripped out for good. Those lies were destroyed. Only the Lord can destroy the lies we believe. Only He can give us our voice back. Because Erin tried to and he couldn’t, hee didn’t know how, so he ran. And honestly, I’m glad he did because he couldn’t fix me. I am far too marvelous and complex a creature for that sweet man to fix…and that’s why our Lord is so amazing. Because we aren’t too much for the Lord to handle! He loves how we are made…He created us this way. He loves my questions and my ridiculous answers. He loves hearing my dreams and my heart’s cries. He loves to give me His love and show me what true love is.
Of course, Jesus brought Erin and I back together! And in the years to come, the Lord would bring several men that I looked up to in my life to encourage me to use my voice. To speak because I had something worthy of being said and heard. To speak in front of 400+ teenagers. To speak to a room full of my heroes and boldly share the word of God. And now He is continually honing in on that…so here I am writing about it.
Today, I encourage you to use your voice. There is no other voice like it on this earth. And no one else has your story. So speak it out. Feeling like you need to say something or you’ll burst?? Do it. Be like my kids on the playground…use your voice to make a new friend. That mom whose son is in your kid’s class and there’s just something about her, a “knowing” that you’ll be great friends if you hang out sometime. Reach out. Don’t miss out. Be like my husband and tell a person you love that they are worth it…tell them the hard shit that needs to be said. You will never know how Jesus will use that in their life. Don’t let your voice by quieted down by the lies that your words have no value or you are not worth someone’s time. They do and you are!
Colorado Springs, CO
Adge is an adventurer by heart, climbing 14ers (mountains over 14,000 ft high) and simply being in the wilderness refills her cup. She married a man who shares that passion with her, Erin, and together they have three children, Everleigh, Finnley, and Bodie. Adge has a huge heart for women. She works as a labor & delivery nurse, loves one-on-one conversations, and lattes with intricate foam designs!