8 January 2018
You and I have a long history together, for you are the spokesman of my heart. You are the messenger of my soul. Yours is a precarious job, for my heart is tender and fragile. Oh, we’ve been through a lot together haven’t we?
I remember when I was a little girl I asked God to make you musical and beautiful, even when you were just talking. We practiced singing, you and I. But we were young and immature. You babbled like a baby, whined like a fiddle out of tune, and erupted at spontaneous moments like a volcano. Sometimes, Voice, you would laugh like flowers in a meadow. Sometimes you would sting like a wasp. Sometimes you cried like the howling of a coyote. I was learning to control my thoughts and feelings, and you were learning to express them.
I remember the rough road of your development, Voice. Sometimes you were hurtful, snobby, and prideful. At those times, I lost my friends. Sometimes you whined, groaned, or tattled. At those times, I lost the trust of my siblings.
I remember in school, all day the teachers would shout in frustration to my class,
“Be quiet and listen!”
Sometimes they cried. You, Voice listened to them, and I obeyed. You were silent in class, except to answer questions. Voice, you became afraid to speak.
I remember the long bus rides home from school. You loved singing. You were as joyful as heavenly angels. But the bus was very noisy with lots of kids laughing, shouting, and screaming. The bus itself roared louder than a lion. The bus driver would stop the bus for a long time and threaten,
“If you don’t sit quietly we will sit here until you do!”
You, Voice, listened and I obeyed. I just wanted to go home.
I remember in Sunday school at church the teachers asked lots of questions. You answered them with confidence, excitement, and thoughtfulness. But the other kids were noisy, irreverent, and wouldn’t answer questions. The teachers would exclaim,
“Be quiet and listen!”
“Someone other than Anna answer the questions!”.
You, Voice, listened to them, and I obeyed. You lost your confidence then, Voice. You became as timid and small as a baby mouse.
I remember at Grandpa’s house cousins, aunts, and uncles gathered together. Mom would play the piano and everyone would sing. You, Voice, were strong and clear then. But the singing would come to an end. I’d go play with my cousins or draw at the kitchen table. The house would fill with children’s laughter, adult debates, and the delicious fragrance of Grandma’s cake. Soon the adults would get tired of the noise and bustle. They’d say things like,
“Children are to be seen and not heard,”
“He who is loudest has the least to say,” and
“Others can see you and think you’re a fool, or you can open your mouth and remove all doubt.”
You believed them, Voice, and I obeyed them. You and I became scarce and quiet.
I remember during dinner at home, my family gathered together. We’d laugh and tell stories or talk about our days. But then Dad got sick and became angry and unpredictable. He would warn us,
“Be quiet and listen up, Pups!”
You, Voice, were becoming less useful to me. I was much too afraid to use you anywhere anymore. You were always wrong, Voice, no matter what you said. I no longer trusted you. I hated you. I learned that silence makes adults happy. Silence was safe.
I remember Voice, when you longed to be used. You would swell up in my chest until my heart ached and tears streamed down my chest. But I wouldn’t let you out. I had locked you in my heart. You became paralyzed then, Voice. When I performed in choir, you simply wouldn’t work. You would roll up like a ball in my throat and gag me. When I spoke at church, you shrank and hid in the cavities of my heart. You would whisper like a dying wind and shake like the ground in an earthquake. You were afraid, Voice. You were scared of punishment and doing wrong again. Rather than do wrong, you became passive. You no longer had your own opinions or thoughts. You only said what others wanted to hear, when they wanted to hear it. You were always calm, guarded, and polite. You learned to be as sweet as sugar and honey. But you had lost your trust in others, Voice. You guarded my hurting heart and protected it from the harsh, misunderstanding world.
I remember, Voice, when you needed to be heard so badly, because you had so much to say, but you couldn’t out loud. You changed then, Voice. You became a pen in my hand as I wrote in my journal. Or you’d be the paintbrush, pencil, or crayon as I drew pictures. This helped my heart Voice, but I know you longed to sing. You longed to be musical. You would come out when no one was around or able to hear, like when I was in the shower, or when the roar of cars, hair blow-dryers, and vacuums would mask you. You thrived in the hymns played at church. The hymns freed you and brought relief to my heart.
I remember when I worked in a call-center. Voice, it was so hard! You were monotone and unfeeling. You spoke a foreign language no one could understand. Others would get angry and accuse me of being a child, a prankster, or an identity theft. They attacked you, specifically, Voice. You were harshly criticized and mocked. But it wasn’t just at work. It was everywhere I went. You see, Voice, over the years of misuse and guardedness, you became weak and underdeveloped. Even when you tried to be louder and clearer, you weren’t strong enough.
I remember when I was serving as a missionary. I was a greenie and still being trained in my first area. One Elder would try to get you to scream, or yell, or speak louder. You, Voice, would not for you could not. Even when I was scared, you would not scream. Even when I was angry, you would not shout. Even when I was in complete agony, you remained silent. My mission president told me that if you, Voice, didn’t start speaking up, no one would want to be my companion. My trainer was very kind and patient. She had us practice, Voice. You practiced shouting as we recited our mission statement and scriptures. Voice, you fainted that first day. You were as rusty as metal left in the rain.
I remember for eighteen months, you practiced, Voice. You had a very important message to share about our Savior, Jesus Christ. You needed to share it no matter what others said or did. My heart filled with the love of Christ, Voice, which flowed through you with every promised blessing, and every spoken testimony. Voice, you became ever more sweet, gentle, and kind. You became understanding, soothing, and strong. You sang every day. You did become musical. You rang with purity, certainty, and angelic beauty. When you prayed in church, the Spirit of the Lord flowed through you like a river of healing, calming hearts in turmoil, and soothing aching souls. Voice, you were still quiet, but it was a good quiet; the kind that pierces to the very soul with its power.
I remember, Voice, the rejection you faced in those eighteen months, but also the mercy and grace of God, who made you musical and beautiful through your sacrifice. We learned a lot, didn’t we? We learned that although silence may protect us from the hurt of the world, it is even more hurtful to not be used, and to hide from the world. We learned that there is no growth in comfort. We learned that when we sacrifice for the Lord’s sake, every day is an increase. We learned to do hard things with love, cheerfulness, and confidence.
I remember that since my time as a missionary, we still have faced opposition, misunderstanding, and heartbreak. Voice, others still think that because you are quiet, you are shy and hidden. But you and I both know how much we have grown, changed, and become stronger. You have opened my heart to those I never opened up to before, and though they discarded your words like garbage, and broke my heart, you still have stood and continue to grow in strength.
Voice, don’t give up. Keep singing. Keep praying. Keep practicing. You have more power than you can imagine. Focus on love, Voice, for love -God’s love- is more powerful than any earthly force, person, or government. God’s love makes you strong, pure, and beautiful.
Remember, Voice, you are musical and beautiful and you carry the most important message of all- the message of God’s love.