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Clearing My Throat

July 7, 2010

When I was in college I had the opportunity to take an amazing creative writing class. The Professor was a woman from inner city New York who brought all the facets of that city with her into the classroom. She also happened to be  somewhat of a genius and could read people like a book, no pun intended. The combination of these two things made for a really fun class, especially for a bunch of Texans.

In almost every paper I would write she would always preach to me about voice. “You have to find your voice T. J.!” She would tell me that I had two voices that would always emerge. One had the ability to speak frankly much like I am now, and the other was a much higher and loftier tone. She would call that voice my “inner poet” who would come out and take a breath from time to time in the work I would submit to her. She said these two voices would vie for control depending on the depth and weight of my topic and by the end of the semester I began to see what she was talking about. If I felt like being goofy, or writing on happy things, then my conversational tone would emerge and tell a story like a camp counselor would to a bunch of kids. Or if I found something I was particularly passionate about then a royal heir would flow over the words I put to paper, a formal and deep writer emerged and attempted to explore the depths of verse until I was satisfied that I got out what I needed to say.

The problem she would say is that the former voice has no command in it, and demands no respect or admiration because it had the tone of a court jester seeking entertainment from its audience. The latter however, regardless of how hard I worked to avoid it always carried with it a distinct tinge of pretentiousness and almost a haughty feel that came off as a tad preachy. This too benefited no one because it eliminates the readers ability to identify.

Greatness she said, will be found on the day when the two voices meet and decide to work together. On the last day of class she sat everyone down and critiqued our final works we turned in for our final. She went one by one and talked briefly about them, gave their highlights and shared encouragement to continue to work. When She got to me she shared something very simple and yet very profound, she said that my greatest challenge will be to work my identity out to find the melding of my voices, because voice only comes from the true understanding of yourself.

I say all this to make a point. The more I wrestle with this idea the more I have come to realize that my real self has nothing to say. My voice and its identity is not my own, it was bought by a King who paid a great price for it and its true and authentic tones come from him, and the melding of my two voices only happens when I speak through Him. He is my originality, my muse, my ability to communicate. I wish I could claim inspiration devoid of him, and champion myself as the originator of great works but anything I could come up with on my own that resonates in the hearts of others would just be a shadow of its real form.

In Him are all my hopes and dreams of having the voice of a sound father one day, the voice of a deep and committed husband, and the voice of a patient leader. I want to know what it is to live in modest wisdom, and in simple truths, to work hard for what I have and enjoy the small things. To love others, to know, and to be known. One day I would like to have the tone of a man who knows his creator, and derives his voice and confidence from it.

Today however I Must settle for the voice of a Lieutenant in over his head, uncertain in his steps and still trying to earn his commission. This tone has a hint of fear in it, a fear of failure, and the fear of not performing. It knows pain and trouble, it deals in complications and has a difficult time finding its way through the stress. This tone knows loneliness and a deep yearning for friends and family, But it is not content to stay here, and knows that the author and perfecter of it has not left its side, works in and through it and will one day make it into what it needs to be.

So today, knowing that in Him lies my meaning and worth and identity, I clear my throat, and place my hands over my mouth. He speaks for me.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. Kimo permalink
    July 7, 2010 17:21

    Brilliant. I couldn’t have said it better myself. Thanks for the encouragement. Too often I try to talk more than I should, and God just says, “Peace. Be still, and know that I am God.”

  2. Penelope permalink
    July 8, 2010 14:31

    Thanks for sharing TJ 🙂

  3. Melody permalink
    July 11, 2010 00:48

    TJ, this is amazing. Very well said. And, totally encouraging! Brilliant. 🙂

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