I remember reading once that when you turn 40, everything changes; you stop listening to all of the other voices telling you who you need to be, what you need to do, how you should act. Suddenly, you are sure of yourself and confident in who you are; those voices don’t matter anymore. I’m laughing as I write this because it simply is not true.
I am in my early 40’s and know this statement to be false; I did not wake up on my 40th birthday and think, “wow, I am confident in who I am, and I don’t care what anyone thinks anymore.” That did not happen for me, and I’m guessing it probably didn’t for most. Even if I am not listening to outside voices telling me what I should look like, how to be a good mom, what I should make for dinner… I have all of the voices inside of me.
I have my mom’s voice, the voice that is trying to be calm and sure, encouraging, hopeful and loving, and also firm. Even my mom voice has sub voices. Sometimes my kids have had a hard day, and my voice needs to lift them up, shower them with encouragement and point them to the light. Sometimes my kids are disobedient, and my voice needs to correct and redirect. Sometimes we are playing a game or just goofing around or just hanging out, and my teenagers need a voice that is fun, silly, relaxed, and confident, a voice that assures them of who they are. And sometimes there is the mom voice that comes out of the google nest when we playback a recording of an incident that has happened, and I hear that shrill, irritated, impatient, condemning voice. I don’t like that mom voice.
I have my wife voice, the sweet encouraging voice that builds my husband up. The voice that lets him know that I am proud of him and thankful for him. I have a partner voice, the we are a team, and we can do this voice, the voice that points to the goal and the truth. I also have the; please reassure me voice, the voice that begs of my husband to let me know that everything is ok, that I am ok, better than ok, that I am doing a good job.
I have the critical inner dialogue voice, the voice that snickers at me, “you can’t wear that! what will other people say or think about you?” ” You need to lose weight, but you will never be able to!” “You are too old to start something new.” “You should be more than you are, better than you are.” “You will never be a successful writer; who would want to read what you have to say?” I could go on for the whole page, but why feed that monster?!
I also have the voice that I am building up, working out like a muscle, the voice that reminds me that the critical voice is a liar. This voice quietly reminds me to feed it truth. The truth that I am beloved and created with a purpose.
I have the voice that is coming out on this screen as I type, the voice that I am desperately trying to get out of my own way for. The voice that is honest, vulnerable, and welcoming you into my thoughts and my heart. The voice that wants to let you know, if you have all of these voices too, some you are grateful for and think, wow, where did that come from? And some that you are not so proud of, maybe embarrassed by, you are not alone; I am right there with you.
The voice that I strive to write with is the voice that I am working daily to cultivate, the voice that God gave me, the voice that says I am a work in progress. I am far from being who I am destined and created to be, but every day I’m working on getting closer to that woman. Some days I take leaps forward, and somedays it’s a mere inch; heck, some days, I’m hoping I can just hold my ground. On those days, it’s all I can do to silence my own critical voices and listen only to God, my Father, and Creator. It’s when I listen to His voice and let his voice influence and infuse mine that my voice can be what I desire it to be: truthful, kind, gentle, strong, hope-filled, generous, loving, joyful, and full of wisdom, a voice that breeds life and love and points to Christ.
There isn’t anything magical about turning 40, and the voices don’t just vanish. Your voices will never go away, but they can change, they don’t have to be