I lost my voice. My written voice, that is.
In the chaos two small children bring. In the day-in, day-out supporting of a husband getting a degree and working. While managing a home, it went missing. While shopping and cooking and washing endless dishes.
In the awesome existence of being a wife, mom, daughter, sister, friend, I forgot I had a “voice.” I forgot what it sounded like coming through my pen. I stopped using it, and now struggled to find it again.
Frantically, I was scanning shelves in our new house, shoving aside boxes, shuffling through drawers, trying to find just a single piece of lined paper on which to write. “Where are all my notebooks?” I yelled at myself.
Let me start over.
I used to carry little notebooks with me. I was always ready to record fleeting thoughts, snippets of conversation, and prayers throughout my day. The act of scrawling a pen across a paper allowed me to reflect on everything from the lady acting oddly in the coffee shop to whether I could actually marry the guy I was dating (I did!). None of it was terribly profound, and my attempts at poetry were just plain sad, but it was mine.
I turned to blogging for a while and even recorded the birth of my daughter. Everything from the joy to the difficulties we experienced. I still reread that post. It still makes me smile. I wrote about my dog. I wrote about faith. I wrote about writing.
Then life got busier. I stopped using my voice to write and forgot even what it sounded like. I lost my voice. The loss hurt my soul.
It is too easy to lose myself in the incredibly beautiful but exhausting role of being wife and mom and taking care of everyone else. But then I find myself impatient; yelling and frustrated.
My desire is to be patient and loving, the very opposite of what happens when I let my soul go hungry. When I stop feeding my soul — doing the things that energize and restore me — I suffer and everyone else around me suffers too. My kids get a cranky mommy who yells too much over little things and my husband gets a wife with a self–righteous, martyr complex (is that even a thing?). Ironically, he encourages me to write. And then I look at him like he is crazy, because, “Have you seen the dishes and laundry around here? And our son is about to wake up to eat, again! I don’t have time!”
Last night, however, it suddenly hit me that Jesus took the time. He left the crowds. He went to be alone. While I do a great job raising kids and cooking, I have never raised the dead or healed sick people, unless we are counting homemade chicken soup. So, if Jesus, who probably felt the urgency of His work here on earth, decided that stopping for a few minutes was important, then I probably should too. Do I honestly think I have something on Jesus? That my work is more important than His? Not so much.
Writing allows me space to reflect, to be alone. It often sends me to my Bible. Sometimes it reminds me of things I desperately want to remember. Small moments that might otherwise be lost. Sometimes it also sends me to a thesaurus for new words, or to grammar checks because, semi-colons, what? Engaging in writing, my creative outlet, stops me from being consumed by busyness. I am able to see the truly important through the demanding. I am quicker to notice my daughter making her brother belly laugh by “beeping” his nose over and over.
“Write this moment down,” I tell myself. “Capture it to savor later.”
God designed me this way. He knew I needed to write for my sanity and my soul.
The harder you work, the more you must play. I heard this once. Doesn’t it ring so true? The harder you work, the more you must play so as not to get burned out by even the most enjoyable work.
Go run or write or have a dance party in the kitchen while your baby looks at you like you have lost it.
Do the things the feed your soul and energize you for the work ahead.
Don’t neglect time to “play” as I neglected my writing for a time.
Even if it’s just for you, that is enough! More than enough, because God made you for these things along with the work He has put before you.
I am off in search of a notebook!
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Ashleigh Slater, Founder & Managing Editor
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