My voice 564

“Aunt Amy, I’m nervous. I’ve never run without Dad.” I was driving my 10-year-old niece to a school-hosted 5k race.

She loves to run, and she’s good at it. Normally she trains and races with her dad, but he was out of the country on a business trip. Her mom had other obligations, leaving this niece with the backup to the backup plan. I had volunteered to run with her, but we both knew I’d slow her down.

In the car I asked her what her dad usually does during the race. “He mostly encourages me saying things like you got this, good job, you’re more than halfway there, we can slow down so you catch your breath, and just a little bit more.”

We talked about how they have run quite a few races together. She knows what he would say and she can repeat those words of encouragement to herself.

I read my book in the car while she ran and when it came time for her to finish, I stood near the finish line, cheering. As she rounded the last corner, her face radiated focus and joy as she ran towards her second best time.

Although she missed her dad, she learned she can run a race without him right by her. Afterwards I asked her if she heard his voice in her head.

“No, it wasn’t his voice. It was my voice in my head, but saying the things he’d say to me. I’d say you got this, good job, you’re more than three-quarters there, and just a little bit more.”


Are you thinking what I’m thinking?

It was my voice, but saying the things my dad had said.

This is the power and importance of self-talking the gospel. She had spent time with her dad, training and racing together

We spend time with God. We become familiar with his voice. We fill our heads, hearts, and souls with the truth of the gospel. You’ve got this. Blessed are those who mourn. Mercy triumphs over judgment. Blessed are the peacemakers. Just a little bit more.

It might be your voice you hear in your head, the question is whose words are you repeating?

You know how when God wants to make a point He’ll come at it from several angles?

A few days after the run, her oldest sister had a different experience. This one is in marching band and in preparation for an important competition her band instructor invited an expert in to give them feedback.

{If you hear a primal roar as you read this, you’ll know my opinion of this so-called expert.}

He used his power to tear down and shred everyone. She is in the clarinet section. As she retold his words you could hear how this was echoing in her soul: “Oh, I didn’t even realize there were clarinets until right now when I saw you. You were so quiet I had no idea you were even a part of this band performance. Obviously you need to be LOUDER.

I had no idea you were even a part of this band performance. 

After months of learning the music at home, rehearsing at school in the blazing sun, marching in formation again and again, he said…

I had no idea you were even a part of this band performance.

You can see how this could become a negative echo in her head and heart.

This is not the gospel. I repeat to that so-called expert, this is not the heart of the gospel!

The next morning, when she was still dejected, we talked about knowing who has earned the right to be in your head and who has not. If her band instructor, who knows and loves her section, said to be louder, then yes, listen to him. But not everyone has earned the right. That expert had not built trust with the band.

Part of self-talking the gospel is actually self-talking the gospel and not repeating the words of so-called experts. We talk (for good reason) about our self-talk. Because it’s inside our head, it’s hard for others to know when we aren’t telling ourselves life-giving truth.

I know I’ve written before about how important it is to tune into the voices in your head. They will often be our voices, but using other people’s words. We need to feed on the life and hope of the gospel.

When you are running without your normal running partner or you are marching with your section, the voice you hear is some version of:

You’ve got thisThe word of the Lord is a strong towerA gentle answer turns away wrathLove strengthens the church. Just a little bit more.


What does God want you to say to yourself today?

A version of this first appeared on Self Talk the Gospel.



Leave A Comment

  1. Jessa March 4, 2016 at 7:07 am - Reply

    There are many voices in my head, but the loudest are my father’s and my ex’s. There is no kindness or encouragement there, and it often takes my people asking me, “whose voice is that really?” for me too even notice what I’m saying to myself.

    Lately, it’s been incredibly hard to hear God’s voice, not because he isn’t speaking to me, but because I’m afraid of what he might say. I feel like he betrayed me by not protecting me or my children and by making me remember the horrors I lived through as a child.(I’m fully aware that the reality is, we live in the tension of already-and-not-yet, I just don’t know how to reconcile the idea of a good, loving God with the pain I suffered and the pain my children suffered.) I’m afraid he’s going to tell me there’s more to remember. I’m afraid he’s going to tell me i’m never going to get to reconcile with my family and I’ll never have a family of my own. I’m afraid I’ll never be well enough to be of any use to anyone, let alone God.

    I want to want to hear his voice again. All that fear creates a kind of pandemonium in my soul. It’s kind of like a thousand people drowning in the same area all at once. In their panic, they cry out. They scream. They scramble to climb on top of one another to get out of the water. They feed off each other’s panic until they’re absolutely frenzied. They are so busy trying to save themselves at any cost that they don’t notice the life preservers floating a few feet away. I think God must be standing a few feet away from me, holding out his hand, saying, “you’re not alone. I’ve got you (and your children), I’m in this with you. You are loveable, and I love you.” I just don’t know how to hear or see him right now.

    • Avatar photo
      Amy March 10, 2016 at 7:59 am - Reply

      Jessa, I am thankful for the people in your life who help to challenge those voices and help you to trace back who said it.

      Of all that you shared, I know it is not a given what God will tell you to do or not do. But I can definitively say, beyond a shadow of a doubt that you are of use. Even in small ways like this comment … it is a use to me and to others who read it. The Messy Middle is just that, isn’t it? Messy! And I hate how much pain your story comes with, and wish I could magically make it go away. It might seem small, but your comments are of use. Your story is of use. You are of use.

      The world has lied to all of us that small is not where the real value is. I have to fight those lies consistently. I wonder if this blog makes any difference because, truly, not many read it. God keeps reminding me, “Amy, even if you and I are the only one who reads it, is it not of value to write these things down?” I try to say, “It is.”

  2. Mike March 4, 2016 at 7:34 am - Reply

    “If her band instructor, who knows and loves her section, said to be louder, then yes, listen to him. But not everyone has earned the right.”

    Yes! This resonated with me. Sometimes we might have something to say that someone really needs to hear, but if we haven’t already established a relationship with that person so that they know we love them, we really haven’t earned the right to be heard. (I’m talking to myself here; I’ve done this very thing way too often!)

    Relationships! Relationships! It’s all about relationships! God really did show us the way on this one: For God so loved the world…

  3. Jody Collins March 4, 2016 at 1:22 pm - Reply

    Amy, this is such a powerful post. Wow. I was thinking this morning of the importance of having God’s word in our bones, nourishing our souls, feeding our hearts. It literally says to , ‘taste and see the Lord is good.’ Psalm 119 over and over–‘use God’s word as your plumbline.’

    I want to keep that as my focus so the words I hear in my head are from the Father heart of God and nowhere else –Facebook, Twitter, television–they often lure me with their words but never give any life.

    Thank you for this timely reminder.

  4. Dave Lewis March 5, 2016 at 3:19 pm - Reply

    I have been on a year-long discovery/exploration of the concept of “with” (prompted by reading Jethani’s book by that title). This fits so well! And I love the way it defuses the arguments over whether or not we can hear God speak today. May it also be that, at times, the words we originally “heard” from him are at times paraphrased, or repeated in a different language, thus giving us a richer understanding? Cross-cultural living has provided me with that beautiful new layer of relationship.

  5. Anna March 5, 2016 at 8:07 pm - Reply

    Oh, yes, so good. Whose voice do we listen to? We can replace those negative soundtracks with truth. Music helps me do that. That’s why I have have an “identity” soundtrack.

  6. Mark Allman March 7, 2016 at 2:26 pm - Reply


    This reminds me of this country song by Chris Young called Voices:

    It can be difficult controlling what you let yourself hear. I know for some it can be very gut wrenching what voice rings in their head at a certain time. I think it takes a lot of work sometimes to try to hear the voices that build us up instead of those that tear us down. It is a blessing to have people in our life whose voice is one that builds us up for we all need that.

    I have learned from those voices that pound my brain sometimes in a negative fashion. While they may not be an encouraging voice what they had to say I sometimes learn from because even if they did not care what effect it had on me it might have been a truth I need to learn from or at least consider. It is hard to view an attack as something that might benefit me but I do try to take into consideration what has been said even if they did stab me in the back.

    I much prefer those lessons come from friends for I like what Oscar Wilde said “True friends stab you in the front”.

  7. Katie Wong March 20, 2016 at 9:46 am - Reply

    This is my first time coming across your blog and this is the first post I’ve read. I can already tell I am going to be coming back for more wisdom and more insights from real life and God!

    I’ve had so many negative voices both inside and out during my time overseas (working in the m. field) and only in the last half-year have I felt that I was both able to hear and having positive voices speaking into me. I love (like many others) how you wrote that we have to be aware of who should and shouldn’t have authority to stay in our heads. So often I assume everyone else knows better than me – which might be true! – but if I don’t ask Heavenly Father his opinion on it, I’m liable to fall into that negative thought pattern about myself and forget He sees me best.

    Thanks for sharing and I’m looking forward to reading more!

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