Giving others a voice

Monday morning. It was my turn to lead our writers’ meeting. I opened with a devotion, which I titled “Giving others a voice.”

Someone said to me, “You are a voice and have given a voice to writers.”

I asked him, “Is that what we’re doing on Monday mornings? We are putting our toe in the door and holding it open for these writers to be heard.”

He said, “Exactly.”

That morning, my devotion was from a passage of scripture I had studied in Greek. When the Pharisees sent the Levites and priests to question John the Baptist, they wanted to know who he was and why he came.

Elijah prophesied about him. “A Voice” would come. The religious sect asked, “Who are you?” They wanted to put a handle on him in order to deal with him. If you’re not Elijah, the Prophet or Christ, then who are you?

John answered them by saying, “I’m a voice. I am pointing to someone among you who you don’t know.”

The religious leaders wanted John to explain himself. John understood it wasn’t about a title or a position. He knew he was a voice, and he had one job to do. It didn’t fit in their box of reason.

Today, others want to put a handle on us. They try to put us in their box so they can explain us. We have to know our place, or we’ll take on their guilt. Believe me, I’ve walked in the shadow of religious guilt. It’s horrible and I say, “No more.”

I read a bumper sticker that read, “Look busy, Jesus is coming.” Those days are over for me. I’m walking in my voice. It’s not work. It’s grace. And I’m pointing to the one who gave me this voice.

Every week we learn about writing. We introduce writers to publications and a bigger world of writing. The writers are excited when they see their articles published in a weekly newspaper and different places. They have gained knowledge and confidence to use their voices.

I heard a preacher say, “People who have had the most influence in my life are not famous preachers or leaders, but it was the old man next door who sat on the front porch. He listened to me about my day and my problems. I rode my bike by his house on my way home from school and he gave me the courage to think I had something worth saying.”

So where is my place and where am I most effective in someone else’s life? What am I doing when my grandson stops by and wants to talk about the book he’s writing and the art he’s painting? He is home from college for the summer. He says, “Grandma, I’ve come by to have coffee with you. I’ll put on the coffee for us. I want to show you what I’ve done.”

When he leaves, he says, “I enjoyed talking with you.”

My granddaughter graduated with an art degree from a prestigious university with great art teachers. She said to me when she was here this summer, “Grandma, you have had the biggest influence on my art and creativity.”

I haven’t done that much. I am here when my grandson comes by and I have given my granddaughter brushes, watercolor paper and a few art tips. It’s what they needed at the time and apparently it was enough to give their talent a voice.

This week, a father left a message on our children’s phone. His son was in sports with our boys. The message thanked them for all they had done for his boy and being there for him. He praised them for being good parents and good people.

Our daughter said, “We didn’t do anything special. We just loved all those boys and wanted them to have what we wanted for our own boys.”

I reminded her of the times when she and my son-in-law woke up at 4 a.m. and made a hundred breakfast burritos. They weren’t asked to do it, but they made them for the football and wrestling boys who were riding the bus to the out-of-town tournaments. At the time, she’d say, “I’m not going to send two burritos for my boys when I know the other boys on the bus are hungry, too.”

It’s those little things we do that don’t seem that much but make a difference. One day those small voices will be loud voices for the world.

Final brushstroke: I write these words for anyone who needs encouragement. You might doubt your place and effectiveness among others and think you’re not doing much. Your words might have a greater effect than you realize. Your voice might be giving someone’s talent a voice.

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This story was posted on July 27, 2017.