More often than not in life we remember criticisms more than we remember compliments. When someone asks me to recall the last time I received a compliment it takes me at least twice as long to recall than if someone asked me to regurgitate the last insult or criticism thrown my way. Chances are that I can spit back that insult word for word as if you had just said it to me, but I probably can’t remember the last compliment with the same amount of clarity. The voices of dissent, disapproval, and disbelief haunt us.
I’ve found this phenomenon to be true in nearly every facet of life, whether it is with regards to my work, my family life, my writing, or my friends. However, it is even more true when it comes to relationships. The voices of all the suitors gone by are pretty quiet when I’m single. But it seems that the second a new relationship begins to bud and blossom those voices come back, and they come back with a vengeance. Suddenly and all at once those criticisms and words haunt us with a renewed fervor.
I’m just not in love with you.
You are too clingy.
You are boring.
You have too much baggage…so now I’ll leave you with more.
You aren’t tall enough.
You aren’t smart enough.
You are a whore.
You are such a prude.
You are a liar.
I can’t believe anyone would ever want to be with you.
Who would knowingly want to have children with you?
You’ll never find your future spouse.
Goodness knows the list could go on, and in our heads, it does. Those phrases pop back in and haunt us, threatening to kill this new relationship – and any hope of a relationship at any point in our lives – stone dead. What are we to do? We have to learn how to silence the voices.
Easier said than done, right? Trust me, I know. The nay-sayers are everywhere. I’ve learned, however, that we need to listen beyond the voices. Each of those phrases, at least in my head, still sounds like they are coming out of the mouth of the person who said it. None of those people are still in my life, so why would I want to listen to their voices? Why does their opinion matter to me anymore? When I’m honest with myself I know their opinions hold no weight, and yet their voices, their hurtful words, stay with me. So we listen beyond their voices, we listen to the good voices in our lives. If we don’t have good voices in our life then we listen to God (His voice should be the first one we listen to anyway). What exactly does He tell us?
“You are all beautiful, my beloved, and there is no blemish in you.” – Song of Songs 4:7
“I will…speak to her heart.” – Hosea 2:16
“I, the Lord, alone probe the mind and test the heart…” – Jeremiah 17:10
“God is love” and “love never fails.” – 1 John 4:8 and 1 Corinthians 13:8
“I command you: be firm and steadfast! Do not fear nor be dismayed, for the Lord, your God, is with you wherever you go.” – Joshua 1:9
Memorize His words. When the voices start to haunt you, taunt you, or mock you, repeat His words of love over and over. Say them out loud, shout them if you must. As Pocket Full of Rocks sings, “Louder than the voice/ that whispers you’re unworthy/ hear the sound of love/ that tells a different story.”
He has claimed you and called you as His own. His voice, the voice who created you and calls you good, is the voice that drowns out all of the other voices – if we let it. We can let the voices of our past, the criticisms and insults, haunt us, or we can be washed clean in His love and in His voice. It is His voice that tells a different story – regardless of where we’ve been. His voice knows us, even our deepest wounds, and loves us still. Isn’t that a voice worth listening to?