I have taken a break from Instagram for the month of August. A fact I have yet to mention here simply because well, I didn’t want to make it a bigger deal than it is (though personally it feels like headline material.) Honestly, I had some lofty month goals to tackle in the absence of scrolling. Important tasks like spending more time reading actual books, playing with my kids, writing 500 words a day, mastering the art of sourdough and hearing God’s voice more clearly. Oh, and finding my own voice again. I’m not sure exactly when I “lost my voice”. There isn’t an exact moment in time, no clarifying trauma that resulted in my acute timidity to express myself in written form.
When you lose your actual, physical voice, the treatment is usually some combination of rest, drinking more fluids, a spoonful of honey. And if those don’t restore your vocal cords, there are doctors and medicine to aid in the healing process. It takes time and it is frustrating not being able to communicate clearly, but healing will happen. Being able to track your progress each day as your voice grows stronger makes the loss easier to bare.
What I’m finding out about losing your metaphorical voice (the thoughts, dreams, opinions and idiolect that are unique to you), is that there is no clear treatment plan here. Drinking more fluids may ultimately hydrate my body, but it won’t help the words flow any clearer. A spoonful of honey is delicious to the tongue but staring at a blinking cursor for 30 minutes still tastes bitter to my soul. I’m sure there is an argument that a doctor could help cure the loss of motivation, inspiration and passion for writing, but what I need is not more words from someone else crowding my already overthinking mind.
I hoped that stepping away from Instagram for a month would silence some of the noise and foster new inspiration to breed within me. And though I am only 10 days in, I woke up this morning severely underwhelmed and disappointed that my plan may be all for naught. Is it foolish to expect a complete transformation to occur in only 31 days? Probably. But as Winston S. Churchill says, “The greatest lesson in life is to know that even fools are right sometimes.” So, I will hope foolishly that in the remaining 21 days transformation will come and with it, the words that have escaped me.
This morning I spent time with God, a practice I have returned to this month that has deeply ministered to me in ways I could only ever hope to explain. I read Psalm 104. Then re-read it as my eyes clouded with tears. If you have never read it, please do! This psalmist tells the story of creation in the most beautiful and poetic way, displaying the wonder and glory of God through all He has created and sustained. The imagery is so vivid I close my eyes and hear the ocean’s roar, see the fur of the lion rustled by the hot breeze. There, in my quiet moment with God, I felt his holy creativity settle over me like the spirit hovering over the dark waters.
Am I cured? Have the words suddenly rushed in, or my voice found its strength once more? No. But the desperation to create, to write, to breathe has lessened its grip across my throat. The pressure is slowly easing, and my thoughts are becoming clearer. One day at a time. See, I thought that I needed to read other writers’ works and listen to podcasts or tune into what other people were doing with their creativity in order to find my own and be inspired.
What I’m finding out on day 17 of this journey is that I need to get comfortable with sitting in silence, in the presence of God and just listen, rest, let my mind find solace. This is where the healing will come from. This is where the words will flow from.
This afternoon, as the toddler lies snoring in his bed and the preschooler mixes playdoh colors at the coffee table (a love of hers that I have learned to just let happen), I am reading through some of my earliest blog posts. I was fully prepared to cringe and delete every word from 3 years ago, but instead I found myself captivated. My own words, my stories and experiences in black and white, on display for the whole internet to read. There are a few comments, maybe a handful of likes total for all those early posts but that’s not what caught my eye. A of couple of those posts I don’t even remember writing. The word choices and imagery written by a girl who delighted in the Lord and loved expressing herself. Who found joy in encouraging others and exploring the strength her newfound voice. Where did she go? And when? And why is she so hard to find again?
Maybe it was the pressure on her throat, choking the words and the life out of her. The pressure to be a writer, to impress others, to outdo the last post that everyone seemed to enjoy reading. The pressure to be everything to everyone and not ruffle feathers or offend anyone, walking a line so thin she was afraid her very breathe would send her tumbling into the darkness below. It’s a shame that we allow the world to hold such a grip on us, isn’t it? To give the opinions of others so much weight in our lives that we can’t even lift our eyes to remember there is a blue sky; all we know is the suffocating brown of dirt staining our once beautiful garments. We crawl forth on hands and knees, exhausted, wondering what happened to the very best parts of who we are? And why do we feel so lost and lonely in a world overcrowded with people?
Reading my own words has reminded me that what I’m searching for, isn’t truly lost, and it’s not impossible to return to. The words are still there, just blocked by the fear of rejection and perfection that I have picked up along the way. That girl isn’t really gone, she’s just waiting to shake off the weight that everyone has thrown on her, to look up into that blue sky and breathe deep the sweet aroma of wildflowers. Freedom.
3 years ago, when I was writing all those words down and hitting publish, I thought it was for the world to read and be changed and encouraged by. I still believe that my words will prove to be impactful to more than just myself. However, today, it is me being encouraged and changed. I was the one each word was meant for. And I am so grateful that the me from 2019 was faithful and passionate enough to keep returning to the keyboard to type out the manna, the living water that I have been so desperate to be nourished with for weeks.
I will keep returning to the computer, the notebook, and sit expectantly for the words to return, to flow through me like a raging river. I will faithfully record every manna filled word because they may be the very sustenance I need in 3 more years. I know the Living water is coming and my cup is ready to catch every drop.