Often times, the sound of my voice makes my cringe. With every word I speak out loud, I feel as if any protective barrier is being peeled away. I have often dreaded public speaking, presentation opportunities, but most of all..praying out loud. With only slight exaggeration, it is the bane of my existence.
For the past 9 months, Jake and I have been gathering every Tuesday with our home community. The participants ebb and flow, but we are usually a gathering of 10 or so. And almost every week, we end with a time to share our prayers, share our hearts, and bow our heads in community. What a magnificent practice of raw community. What an ugly and uncomfortable, but beautiful time to share in words and awkward silences.
My secret is that I have yet to utter words out loud. And in all honesty, I am barely uttering words of true prayer silently in my head. Rather, the bowing of communal heads induces panic, fear, and anxiety, and my mind begins the usual pattern of:“OK Crystal, just say a quick prayer…no ones listening, no one cares, just pray. You’re overthinking it Crystal…oh wow, that was a nice prayer. Maybe just thank God for community…just say thanks. Nope, someone just did that. OK, here we go, some good silence, just interject a nice little, Oh, wells someone’s closing now…next time!”
Yes, really, the struggle is so real it is almost unbearable. My qualms and personal issues with praying out loud have little to do with anything other than my stuff. Today, though is not about the complexity of prayer. Today I am choosing to speak.
My chosen medium of voice may not be through out loud prayer (don’t worry, I’m working on that), but it is through the written word that I am choosing to share my voice. Because this fear, this deeply embedded crisis, comes from the belief that my voice is unworthy. I should not speak unless I am RIGHT. Whatever I have to say, it will simply be said by someone else if it is true, otherwise, it is not worth the effort of opening my mouth. Most devastatingly, God does not hear my voice.
Today, I choose to speak. I choose to allow my feminist, confused, a little-too-liberal-for-church self to proudly proclaim my truth, my journey, and my important and valuable words. (Hey, if I write it, maybe I’ll believe it, right?) I want to tell you my story. I want to share with you how my vision of God is transforming faster than I can process. I want to tell you about marriage and love, and what it looks like for me. I want to show you my feminist heart, and to challenge you to listen to someone different (and maybe even wrong), and to respond with compassion, empathy, and love. I want to write the words that have been brewing in my soul for months, years even, unrestricted by fear of unworthiness, brought to life by the truth of Belovedness.
This is not necessarily an invitation, although I gladly accept your peering eyes. This is simply a declaration. I will speak, knowing that my voice has been called worthy, knowing that I have been called worthy, and that I am invited to speak up in a world that constantly tells me to be quiet.
I hear you, I see you, I call you Good.