Hello friends, family, and blog readers. I’m back on again today, trying real hard to honor my writing schedule. It is not easy. So many things tug at my time, showering and eating for instance, but since I chose to be nourished and clean today, my writing time will just have to be a little shorter. Quality over quantity as is the saying and flexibility is key here but not so much flexibility that I get wishy washy and flush any self-discipline down the toilet. What counts is that I am here, whether for an hour or only half of that. Ok, I’m done pep talking myself, thank you for indulging me and I hope you stuck with me through that! On Tuesday I wrote about my inner dialogue, the voices inside that tell me to stay in bed a little longer, to skip the gym, to scroll through my social media feed, that tell me that I’m not good enough, that throw obstacles in my way that don’t exist, that make anxiety and fear big and my goals real small, that make me feel small, that make me think that God is small-when he is anything but. Today I want to write about the voices of others and how they influence us. It can be the voice of a parent, a sibling, a friend, an acquaintance, a stranger… No matter who it is, it can have a positive or a negative effect on us.

At the beginning of this school year, I had to make some hard decisions. After much thought and prayer I decided to step away from a few commitments for the time being. Last year was the year of over commitment for me, coming off of the COVID year of no commitments. After doing no things in 2021, I wanted to do all of the things in 2022, which in turn made 2022-2023 the year that I realized that I should not do all of the things because too many things meant that I wasn’t giving my best to each one. I was only giving small portions of myself and I was not satisfied with that. Anyway, walking away from things and saying no was and is a hard thing to do. What was really hard was hearing this comment from someone, “well, we can’t all be like_______.” Stop me in my tracks. In the moment, that cut me deep. I don’t think it was meant to be hurtful in the least. I, however am an overthinker and not only am I an overthinker but I am an overthinker who puts a lot of thought into words and their meaning and stringing them all together at an attempt to make something beautiful. For a comment that was probably not meant to be hurtful, it was. And I thought, “yeah, I wish I could be like that person too! She is amazing…” But, if I strive to be like her, then I’m not being myself-the person God created me to be. The only one I should be trying to imitate in my life is Jesus. And he is the only one I should be looking to for direction in my life. If I base my decisions on what other people are doing and think, “well that person can do this, that, and the other thing and still have time for X, Y, and Z,” then I’m putting someone else on a pedestal and diminishing what I do. We were all created for a purpose but we were not all created to be the same and have the same gifts and talents! It’s so easy to let someone else’s words take over our inner dialogue and point us away from the path God has set out for us.

In college, I started as an education major and shortly after switched to liberal arts. After I recieved my associates degree, I transferred to a four year school to finish out my bachelors and it was at that time of deciding what I wanted to do with the rest of my life, that my first love, writing, was re-awakened. One semester I was taking 3 or 4 writing classes. I was living for writing and I loved it. I took writing for broadcast media, memoir writing, writing for children, writing for public relations, etc… I ended up graduating with a major in communications and a minor in English/writing. Then the voices started infiltrating my brain… People-“What are you going to do now that you’ve graduated?” Me- “I’m going to be a writer!” People- “But how are you going to make a living?” The voice of people began to shut down my voice, once confident, and sure of myself now became full of doubt. Since I lacked the self-discipline and the strength to pursue my dream, I took a different path and thought, I’ll write on the side. I dabbled, I journaled, I wrote poetry, but I didn’t write on the side to pursue writing as a career.

Another example is when my hubby and I met. We were 19 and going into our sophomore year of college and for those of you who don’t know our story, I lived in NY and he lived in MA. Some people had a field day with that. People- “Why would you want to be in a long distance relationship at 19?” People- “You should be out having fun.”

Or, when we miscarried our first pregnancy. People- “it wasn’t meant to be.” “You’ll get pregnant again.” “You’re young.” “There must have been something wrong with the baby, so it’s better this way.”

I could go on and on. I’m sure we all could. But oh how thankful I am to be walking with the Lord. That I am choosing to spend my time filling my mind and soul with God’s promises. This is what I know. I know that people have a bad habit of thinking we know what is best for everyone else. I’m guilty of it too, but I try not to let my inner voice become my outer voice. I try to remember to ask permission before dispensing advice. I try to listen more than I talk. I remember that I’m not God and that I don’t have the power to fix anyone, even if deep down I feel I know what is best for someone else, it’s just not my place. I know that praying for someone in Jesus name is the best thing I can do for them.

I also know that I can rest in the promises that God has made over my life. I know that God will never leave me or forsake me, Hebrews 13:5-6. I know that God is with me, he will strengthen and help me, Isiah 41:10. I know that God has not given me a spirit of fear, but of power and love and self-control, 2 Timothy 1:7. I know that even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil for he is with me, Psalm 23:4. I know that God is my refuge and my strength, Psalm 46:1-3. I know that God cares for me, 1 Peter 5:7. I know that God will give me rest, Matthew 11:28-30.

Do you struggle with letting other’s people’s words define you? Have there been words spoken into your life outside of the circumstances that I listed above? I would love to hear how you got past them. I hope you can take comfort in the fact that you are not alone in that. If this is a struggle or if anything else is a struggle in your life right now, I’d love to pray for you. Please leave a comment below and let me know how I can pray for you.

A picture from a short and peaceful walk in the woods today where there were no other voices besides mine and the Lord’s.