I know we all hear voices in our heads. Please tell me you do! I hear them all the time. Sometimes the voice talks and it seems like it’s me, or some version of me, and sometimes it’s felt like the voice was God, the voice waking me, warning me, guiding me. Regardless, I think we all have it (them) if we listen.
You know how I usually know which voice is me and which is God – or at least I think? The one that berates me is not God. At the end of the day the one that tells me everything I did wrong that day is not God. The one that points out my flaws and short-comings is not God. That is me. I’m not sure what part of me it is but it’s me. It’s this bitch that lives inside of me that knows everything. She has been there for everything I’ve ever done wrong and I’m certain she takes naps while I’m doing things right because she has no memory of those moments. She even remembers the things I’ve forgotten and brings them up at the most inopportune times. She sits in the corner all quiet and waits for the right moment to pounce. She’s a bully is what she is really. She waits until I get paid with accolades, feelings of hope and joy, and feelings of pride in myself. Then BAM! She jumps from behind a tree, beats me with her words and steals my lunch money! I’ll call her the Bully.
Then there’s the voice of reason and right. When I’m doing, thinking or acting in a way not in line with what I say are my values, it’s the voice that waves a big red flag and says danger ahead; the relationship I should have never entered, the drink I should have never had, the lie I should have never told. The list goes on…trust me, I know, the Bully reminds me. This voice is not the Bully, but you can bet when this voice is talking the Bully is taking notes so she can remind me of this moment later. I think, I’m not sure, but I think, short of serial killers we all have this voice. It may not be God, but it’s God-given. I guess most would call it your conscience. Some call it your true self. But it feels like more than that. It seems it has a true compass that has always been pointing me in the right direction even when I chose to take another path. It’s always been there...sometimes I’ve hated that.
The last way (or at least the last that matters in this discussion today) is the Voice that covers all the other voices. Honestly, this voice has only spoken to me, clearly anyway, about a handful of times in my life. I can remember almost all of them, they were all shocking to me. I’m typically in a mental downward spiral or in a very deep train of thought when it speaks. Or I’m about to chicken out of something I am meant to do, even though why is not at all evident to me at the time. This voice cuts through and it is clear, like thunder, it’s heard and felt. Ok, not heard as in an audible sense but in my mind, in my world, it’s loud. Usually not what I want to hear. One time I was about to send an email to a friend about a situation that I knew was a conversation, not an email. As soon as my hand went for the keyboard, the voice told me to pick up the phone. In the moment, it feels so real that there is no other option but to yield. I pick up the phone or….there is no or. Period.
This voice is almost always so contrary to my current desire or thought, so pointed and exact that I must take notice. That voice is what I believe to be God. That is when I feel for one split millisecond God puts down his list of things to do, other world problems, and speaks to me directly.
I have to tell you all of this to let you know I’ve spent a lot of time paying attention to the voices in my head. I don’t have just one, they all play different roles and I’m actually learning to live with all of them, even the Bully. Sometimes I get my bloody self off the ground, stand up, and punch that bitch right back in the face and take back my lunch money. You know you have issues when the Bible story you identify with most is about a man named Legion who had many demons living in him and Jesus healed him. He sent those demons right into some pigs and they ran themselves off a cliff. I can identify with Legion. Legion means “a crowd,” and Legion was living with a crowd in him. At times it feels like a crowd in my head. Legion, dude, I feel ya! Why do I suddenly want bacon? Anyway…..
I had to tell you all of this so that you understand that I didn’t take it lightly the day God cussed at me.
I grew up in a little Baptist church that looked just like the one that you pass around in Sunday school to put your change in for offering. Basically, a church-shaped piggy bank, steeple and all. The F-word in my home was FART. We had to use the less offensive version – FLUFF- which didn’t matter anyway. No one in our home ever farted so there was no use for such a word. We were in church every Sunday, Sunday night, Wednesday night and any other time there was a reason to show up. I spent my teen years in the 80’s caught between Amy Grant’s Sing Your Praise to the Lord and Madonna’s Like a Virgin. I had to binge on MTV at my friend’s homes because it wasn’t allowed in mine. One day I was Rizzo, the next day Sandy. It was a confusing time.
We can uncover all my teen issues later. I tell you all of this to tell you I was just as shocked as you may be to know that God cussed at me.
In full disclosure, I have a bit of a potty mouth myself, if you didn't notice. I got Saturday school once in middle school for telling a boy I was going to kick his ass. And for someone who hated school as much as me that was pretty much a death sentence. So, I know you’re probably thinking I’m nuts and the voice was me not God and yada yada. And that’s fine. I know this will rub a lot of people the wrong way. I’m ok with that. I personally have to believe that God’s not so upset with it (and do not send me scripture about “taming my toungue” – I’ve read it.) You know who Jesus loved hanging out with? Fisherman. Growing up in the Bay area some of my best friends are fishermen. They are some of best friends you’ll ever be lucky enough to have. They are hard workers who would do anything for you. But there is a reason there is a saying “cussing like a sailor.”
I’ve even cussed at God. GASP! I’m thinking if you haven’t then maybe life hasn’t really slapped you around all that much. It actually feels really good. It felt authentic at the moment. Sometimes things hurt so much you need stronger words. I spent some time working with women in recovery and I remember the first time one of them relapsed. I had seen her eyes light up with hope. I saw her change and grow and I saw what God was doing in her life. Then meth. It got her back and I raged. I let God have it with a barrage of words not appropriate for anyone much less the maker of words Himself. I wasn’t mad at her, I was mad at being human that day. I was mad that “God let her go!” What came out of my mouth was not thought out, it wasn’t filtered, it was raw. Very Davidesque; “Why did you let her go?! Where are you?! Are you even listening or paying attention?! Her life was hard enough...why?!" I've cleaned that up for you but you can imagine. And you know what? It didn’t even hurt Gods feelings. It may hurt yours, but that’s why you are not God. And then some of you are thinking – I’m not alone. I've done that too, Jen! - You’re my people. For the next couple of months I sat in church but wasn’t happy about it. I kept searching for the answer but didn’t get it. Then one day the Voice said, “I never let her go. I can’t let her go. It is impossible for me to let her go. She let go for a little while. But I will never let her go.” And in a moment my heart began to heal. I believed the Voice.
So in summary; I have a potty mouth at times and I’ve cussed at God and still…I NEVER would have expected God to cuss at me.
Here is how it happened.
I was struggling, basically with everything. This year has been the hardest so far and I didn’t know harder was possible. I was on the spin bike taking a class from another instructor. I needed to sweat it out. The first few minutes were already kicking my behind. Not necessarily physically but mentally and I was already wishing I had not taken the class – Maybe I should step out and give up today. No, everyone will notice, I can’t do that, not me. My legs hurt. Dang my knees, I so should have not had that gluten over the weekend, it hurts my joints every time. I think my heart rate is a thousand. It’s only been 5 minutes, ugh! Then it happened. The voice was inside of me and outside of me. It came over the instructor, the music, and the litany of excuses surging from my brain; “OVERCOME THAT SHIT.” That’s it. One time. My mind was like a 90-mile-per-hour fastball zeroed in for a home plate of negativity and then CRACK! redirected…over the fence!
That was a few months ago. Since then life has been harder and harder. And each time I try to crawl in a hole or give up I hear it again, not like the first time, more like a reminder each time; Overcome that shit.
Truth is I’ve spent the last almost 20 years working on me. I am an avid personal development reader. I buy about a book a week – and read them. I read with a highlighter and a pen with the intention of learning. I read to change, not just read. I read to share. I make myself take action. Knowledge is not power, it’s potential power. Action is power. Willingness to change is power.
I have a unique position, in that, because of my career I get to hear what a lot of women are struggling through. And let me tell you, we are more alike than we are different. Unique in our selves, one in our humanity. One of our greatest desires is to be known, yet we withhold.
“We are always both so known and so unknown.” – Mark Nepo
We are all always overcoming, there is no there. There is no place we arrive and the struggle goes away. I don't really think I have anything to write about overcoming that is special, or new, or exciting. But I think it's important to share our journey in a more real way than our world is drawing from us today. I don't expect to charm the world with my words, in fact I have zero expectation, only a desire to unfold what is real.
“…then the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk to bloom.” – Anais Nin
Jen Mulford is an entrepreneur, speaker, author and champion for personal freedom.