June 23–Listening: The outside voices

Part 2 of homily given by Karen Smith on June 19 at UUCG:

Parents don’t always come in pairs, and it can be a good idea to have multiple parents, biological or otherwise, to help bring emotional support to one another. You often hear people refer to the important adults in their youth as their second mothers or second fathers.  Parents balance each other with their points of view on child-raising. In the tag-team reality of parenting young children, one parent can pick up physically when the other has run out of energy or patience, usually at the same time.  Most importantly, parents present different ways of being to their children, different approaches from which to view the world. All our lives we are distilling the influences we feel down to the essence of ourselves, sifting through all of the voices that we hear to keep what resonates in our hearts.  We may not be aware of the process until we are over thirty and parents ourselves. Perhaps that is when we can finally identify those things that we think are important enough to call our values, when we can identify those things we think worthy of keeping as we travel on our journeys to become better versions of ourselves.

The external voices in our lives are numerous and varied.  The first voices are those of our families who we hear when we are young; these voices sow the first seeds that will grow into our own inner voice.  Perhaps our families took us to church or temple and we heard voices of religion. Then we might have moved into school and listened to voices instructing us for 12 years or 16 or even more.  Later we sought employment or started our own business and heard the voices of economic experience.  But hopefully somewhere along the road we have heard our own internal voice which belongs only to us and which only we can hear.  It is part of the unique gift that we are.

We do not have a direct line to our inner voice. It can be hidden behind shades of Anger or Fear or Sadness or Joy. I hear my own voice in essentially two forms:  the daytime voice of rationality and the nighttime voice of fear.  My daytime voice is an angel of light and is quiet most of the time.  Its silence tells me that I am doing okay, I’m on the right track, but like absent fathers, I do not hear the love.  Its silence both comforts and confuses me.

I refer to the nighttime voice of fear as my dark angel of doubt.  That voice pops up at night when I am trying to sleep. It is better than coffee for keeping me awake.  It will continually replay all of the things that I wish I had done better, all of the scenes in which I failed to be my best self; things I had long forgotten will come marching up to the forefront of my thoughts.  If I listen to it long enough, it will make me crazy with anxiety over things in the past that I cannot change.  Why is it so much easier to doubt our actions than to celebrate them?  I must remind myself over and over again that tomorrow is another day, another chance to create a better world.

Today is another day–another chance to create a better world.

Karen Smith

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