“Karyn! There are a hundred kids out here, so why is it I only hear your voice?”
That bellow came from the front porch of my house, across the street from the parkway where I was playing with friends. This area of the parkway was where neighborhood children would come to play 16” softball, Red-Rover and Ghost in the Graveyard, among other games. Our house was situated right in front of this hub of activity, and this is where my mother chose to humiliate me in front of a gazillion of my peers. She had no other instruction or requests, just a firm warning to shut up! My nine year-old, energetic form suddenly collapsed into a Charlie Brown pout, and I did exactly what my mother told me – I shut up.
I remember a time in college during a speech class when my professor congratulated me on how my voice just rolled through the room. His hands punctuated this statement with an undulating motion. He footnoted his comment with the remark that I didn’t even need the microphone. It might have been a compliment, but I really couldn’t say because I had long ago internalized that my voice shouldn’t be big.
Those who know me would probably agree that my voice is loud – I am loud – my whole family is loud (with the exception of my one son, but in truth when he laughs, it’s loud and I love it!). My volume can easily be seen as being bold, and I think many people believe that I am. My husband is one of those people, so when God led me to pick BOLD as my word for the year he gave me a questionable look and dismissed it. I can see how that would be an easy mistake to make because I am loud and I am bold, but typically I am both of those things for others and not for myself.
I use this questionable talent to advocate for others. “What? They didn’t bring your ketchup?” I am the first one to hail down the wait staff and make sure you get your ketchup. I have boldly navigated hospitals, nursing homes, financial institutions and the education system to make sure my loved ones got what they needed.
Throughout my life I have advocated for others, and have counted it an honor, but when it came to my own dreams and desires, you know the ones you hold really close to the vest, I am as mute as when my mother hollered at me from our front porch. It’s very, very hard for me to step into my voice and rustle up boldness for myself, so earlier this year, when God called me to embrace the word BOLD, I became really nervous.
Part of the reason I get so nervous is because I don’t do it well. When I try to advocate for myself it sounds prideful and haughty. That of course happens because I work overly hard to compensate for my insecurities with a false confidence. Despite this shortcoming, when God called me to be BOLD and use my voice, I did. I uncomfortably raised my hand and offered my skills, but God chose not to open that door. After my confusion evaporated, like a dense fog, I realized that I was being bold in a very safe place, and that wasn’t what God had in mind at all.
You should have felt my emotional recoil! I did not want to step into a big arena, like the world, and put myself out there. Uugh! The last thing I wanted to do was self-promotion. Uugh! We’re talking a serious aversion here. So, I go and double check with God (about a hundred times) to see if this was the direction He really wanted me to head. It was…Uugh! (Can you see my 50-something, less energetic form collapsing into a Charlie Brown pout?)
Here’s the deal. All through this struggle God assured me that I wouldn’t be putting myself out there, but that I would be putting Him out there. Kinda hard to argue with that! For the last two years He has had me practicing the act of letting go of the outcome and just being obedient to the next step.
So, in January I began researching companies to help make-over my current coaching website. I took my time because I knew that those self-promotion steps would eventually come…uugh! But, during this time, God brought people and ideas into the picture, which brought an excitement for what He could do through it all. My “uugh” didn’t have as much power as it once had.
God has blessed my coaching business, but I had a deep desire to reach more people with the truth He has given me about weaving emotional intelligence into spiritual growth. I see Christians every day who love The Lord, but just can’t figure out how to navigate around and through their feelings in order to look more like Him.
I’m one of them! ROMANS 7 could be my emotional life mantra: I want to do what is right, but I can’t. 19 I want to do what is good, but I don’t. I don’t want to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway.
The good news is that God has equipped us to overcome this struggle with the help of the Holy Spirit and a little extra know-how. I don’t have all the answers, but I’ve figured out a few how-to’s that make a difference, and God is calling me to use my voice so others can know about them too.
“Be bold enough to use your voice, brave enough to listen to your heart, and strong enough to live the life you always imagined.” I stumbled across this canvas as a new Nashvillian some years ago. It sits oddly on one of my kitchen walls because it’s not really your standard kitchen décor. I keep it in plain sight so that I can see it, believe it, and live it. It was a very attractive challenge I claimed when we moved from Chicago. As Scott and I were recreating our lives, I wanted to be sure to live from this statement – after all, that parkway was now 500 miles away.
My life is better than I ever imagined. I work at a wonderful church that is making a difference in the world and I get to coach fabulous people who have engaged me to be their champion. I have listened to my heart and to God, trusting that even if I fall flat on my face (again), I will still be victorious because I have been obedient (yeah, that counts!) It’s the brave part that is problematic. I’m not so brave – I tend to be too tied to the outcome (even after two years of practice!), and there’s still the matter of that voice of mine. I still feel like I’m nine.
I have figured out, though, that the most important thing I can be is obedient (out of love, not fear). I have experienced the riches from it, I have enjoyed more intimacy with God through it, and it just so happens to be bigger than my “uugh”! So, it is with great excitement that I get to tell you that my new website, sporting a new logo, and loaded with a bunch of resources for YOU, will be launched next month. I have been BOLD in every sense of the word, I have stepped into my voice in uncomfortable ways, but what keeps me pushing through is YOU. I think of you and how much God loves you and wants to grow you out of your own “uugh” and into the peace and the purpose that He has for you.
So, while self-promotion will always be laced with some “uugh”, my love for Christ and His enthusiasm to use me will override it. I realize that what I have to offer isn’t for everyone and I’m okay with that. But for those of you who do want that transformation, peace, and clarity, I’m here for YOU!
In April I saw this encouragement on Jennie Allen’s Instagram page: My first blog was called: Untangling God and Ponytails (And had 10 followers). My first Bible Study (Stuck) was originally called: God and your Emotions (and had clip art flowers on it.) Just start. Do it cheesy. Do it messy. Just do what you are built to do and have fun growing up in it!
So, that’s what I’m doing. Zechariah 4:10 says: Do not despise these small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin. As my website grows I want to grow with it; I want YOU to grow with it too. The website is really only a delivery vehicle for the resources and tools God has given me to share.
Ultimately, I want to be a part of deepening your walk with God and shaping your heart through truths that He has revealed to me along the way. God has built me to make a difference in the Difference Makers and, at this time in my life, He has chosen to emboldened my voice for you. So, in your honor, hold on to your ears, because I’m told I don’t need a microphone!
Ponder your voice: What dreams or situations stifle your voice? What area(s) of your life does God embolden your voice? Does your voice bless others or does it pull others down?
Who’s voice do you admire most? What message are they sharing with the world?
(This can help identify your passion.)
Is God calling you to be obedient and to just take the next step in something? If so, what is that next step? Seek wise counsel, identify God’s timing and trust Him if He calls you to step out into it.
Serve only the Lord your God and fear him alone. Obey his commands, listen to his voice, and cling to him.
But Samuel replied, “What is more pleasing to the Lord: your burnt offerings and sacrifices or your obedience to his voice? Listen! Obedience is better than sacrifice, and submission is better than offering the fat of rams.
Listen to my voice in the morning, Lord. Each morning I bring my requests to you and wait expectantly.
Morning, noon, and night I cry out in my distress, and the Lord hears my voice.
I love the Lord because he hears my voice and my prayer for mercy.
1 Cor 12:7 (Msg)
Each person is given something to do that shows who God is.
I don’t really understand myself, for I want to do what is right, but I don’t do it. Instead, I do what I hate. 16 But if I know that what I am doing is wrong, this shows that I agree that the law is good. 17 So I am not the one doing wrong; it is sin living in me that does it.
18 And I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature.[d] I want to do what is right, but I can’t. 19 I want to do what is good, but I don’t. I don’t want to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway. 20 But if I do what I don’t want to do, I am not really the one doing wrong; it is sin living in me that does it.
21 I have discovered this principle of life—that when I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong. 22 I love God’s law with all my heart.23 But there is another power[e] within me that is at war with my mind. This power makes me a slave to the sin that is still within me. 24 Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death? 25 Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord. So you see how it is: In my mind I really want to obey God’s law, but because of my sinful nature I am a slave to sin.
As a certified Christian Life Coach, I can help you move from where you are to where God wants you to be. If God is calling you to step out of your comfort zone, then let’s chat. I’d love to be your champion in what He is calling you to do!
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