A woman with a voice is by definition a strong woman. But the search to find that voice can be remarkably difficult.
– Melinda Gates
I’ve struggled to find my voice. I struggled because I didn’t think it was worth hearing – but I knew that that couldn’t be right, so I struggled, struggled until I found her. I knew I eventually would.
Sometimes I felt like my weaknesses, fears and insecurities discounted my voice. Sometimes I felt like they rendered me almost silent.
But what is a voice which hasn’t struggled to push through weakness, fear and insecurity? Is it an empty retelling?
What is a declared challenge without unavoidable obstacle? Is it easy to achieve and therefore easy to discard?
What is an achievement without someone having first told you that you probably can’t do it anyway? Even if that person is you?
I believe there’s a story within each one of us. And the voice that tells us that we can’t do it, can’t tell it, can’t be it – that can be the hardship, the obstacle that pushes us to strengthen our voice and write our story. Because what is a voice without a story? And what is a story without an obstacle?
When I was a kid I dreamed of being a strong woman with a kind heart who was very clever and creative. And then as life happened I began to believe that I couldn’t be that strong woman – because I thought the hard things had taken my strength.
When my parents separated and my dad disappeared I thought there was a deficit in my worth. When other men were untrustworthy and unkind I thought there was a strength missing from inside me. When I was misunderstood I thought it was because I was always wrong.
And then I realised that having a voice doesn’t mean being always confident, strong and right. Having a voice doesn’t even mean being able to speak loudly. Having a voice means having something to say and being brave enough to say it. It means having a story and being kind enough to share it. It means speaking the truth, though our voice may shake.
When my dad left it broke my heart and it’s been a journey to allow myself to heal and forgive but I know now that my Father in Heaven is a faithful, loving Dad who has never left.
When the other men were untrustworthy and unkind it meant that I would be scarred for life, but those battle wounds have enabled a level of empathy, rawness and honest vulnerability. And those scars pushed me further into the safe arms of God who was never afraid of the mess.
Being misunderstood was painful but it taught me that I wasn’t always wrong. It taught me to be confident in my own voice, my own position, my own story. Being misunderstood made me more determined to be understood – to use my voice more clearly and confidently, so that others too, could learn to use their voice.
I wouldn’t have a story, without these battle scars. And I’ve struggled to find my voice. But now that I’ve found her, I am by definition – even if not by appearance – a strong woman.
Together, let’s do this journey.