Real Helps for Finding Your Voice

ten tips to pin

Today my friend Holley Gerth offers a rich vein of encouragement with her new link-up, Coffee for Your Heart, reminding us how very loved we really are. I’m linking up with this existing post because I believe, like Holley does, that we can be free from continually having to prove ourselves, free from feeling we will never be enough.

“You realize it takes two people to argue—right?”

My not-yet-husband Matt offered me simplistic but wise counsel during our dating days, days when an angry ex-husband still sliced into my soul in ways I shouldn’t have allowed. Matt saw the numerous times my phone rang, the texts flying back and forth. Angry words. Accusations. Defenses.

“Why do you respond? You owe him no explanation. If you turned from the conversation, the arguments would end—who would he argue with?” How simple. Ridiculous. And true.

Read Chapter Seven, When A Woman Finds Her Voice, The Wellspring of Life Read Galatians 2.


Maybe it’s not an argument with an ex-husband, but I wonder if you’ve ever been seduced by some sort of repetitive negativity? Ever expended massive amounts of physical and emotional energy chasing one crisis after another?

life is not an emergency2

That’s not God’s plan for us, you know. This unknown thing, this intrinsic perpetual motion that keeps us moving, responding—no matter if it’s the wrong direction. It’s no wonder we end up exhausted, losing our voices, feeling it’s impossible to make our lives count.

If we’re willing to stop the mindlessness of it all, we can stop the cycle. But it’s going to take some intentional choices. There’s a sign that sits in my office, long ago inspired by Ruth Haley Barton, these words to remind me fresh each day.

How bad do I want it? Am I arranging my life around my desire? Am I living intentionally—in order to be who I want to be?

Faced with the truth, we can either run in denial, or stop, make the needed changes. I chose the changes. Slowly, my need for sanity resisted my need to defend my reputation. Those were the days before the iPhone, the days post-it notes wallpapered my Blackberry screen. Do not answer him! 

Funny thing, Matt was right. The arguments soon stopped. How often we run from the very things that can change us, these intentional choices, this responding to life in a healthy manner.

Can I offer you these things I did, these real helps I experienced on this road to finding my voice, in the hopes they will somehow encourage you on your own journey? I’ll ask you first to give yourself permission, to breathe the Grace freely offered. This is usually the hardest fought victory but one that holds the greatest reward.

And then there are these:

1. Don’t mask or pretend. Don’t trade your real self for a substitute. 2. Don’t stuff. Don’t attempt to please others over pleasing God. 3. Don’t hold a grudge. Remember, forgiveness does not mean acceptance. 4. Don’t perform. We really don’t have to have it together all the time. 5. Don’t defend. Defense usually only validates complaints. 6. Don’t control. We can’t change anyone but ourselves. 7. Don’t give in; establish clear boundaries and limits. There are times when enough simply is enough. 8. Don’t discard your dreams. Find your passion and pursue it. 9. Don’t give up on joy. Filter everything through God’s truths. 10. Don’t run. Share that story you’re scared to share.

There has never been the slightest doubt in my mind that the God who started this great work in you would keep at it and bring it to a flourishing finish (Phil 1:6).

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Click here to download these Ten Tips as a free printable bookmark.

Which of these do you feel will help you the most on the journey to finding your voice? Which of these do you struggle with? Please share with us in the comments below. {Find more encouragement with Jo Ann’s recently released book, When A Woman Finds Her Voice: Using Your Story to Make a Difference.} {And don’t forget to stop by for a cup of coffee with some amazing women in Holley’s Coffee for Your Heart link-up!}

44 thoughts on “Real Helps for Finding Your Voice

  1. I would like to think I am past the top 10 list, but I am not. Throughout the day one or two rear their ugly heads, sneaking up and blindsiding me. Being purposeful the truth of the Word vs. the lies the enemy would have me believe. Great word Jo Ann.

    • Karen, the fact is we live in a fallen world and the lies so easily creep up in our thoughts. God shows us where we need to keep depending on Him. It’s refreshing to see how open you are and that you are purposeful in the Word. Keep going my friend!

    • I know Karen,
      I wish I were, I need to prioritize especially 7, 8 & 9
      so I can hear what my voice really sounds like.

    • I agree Jo Ann is a gifted writer and special blessing each week there something fresh to glean and remind us not only how valuable we are as God’s precious daughters but also how patient and wise He is as He continues to bless us with healing and transformation. Thank you for character refinement. My verse today is spoken by Jesus: My peace I give you, in this world there will be tribulation but be of good courage, I have overcome this world. John 16:33 I don’t want to do any of the top ten list …no more no more. Help us Jesus to overcome!

  2. Good Morning,
    Feeling so Blessed to be here today! As I woke & called out to the Lord early this morning I receive a Special Blessing. My niece/ goddaughter had sent me a message & she actually came over & attended Mass with me. Lord it has been along time & I praise You! That I am being Blessed with these Special Ladies on this Journey. Amen.
    Okay, reflecting on the Scripture that were read this morning Lord I rejoice as they align with Jo Ann message & as we have moved out of Christmas Season & into Ordinary time it is the Season for us to grow! There is nothing I enjoy more than growing. Past my pain & into the Woman You created me to be. That I may learn to share with depth & honesty would be such a Blessing, for too many are the times I have heard you are just too deep. But God created me & He has created me this way, so I have to believe He had a purpose in mind for me.I have identified one of my weaknesses is not establishing boundaries that are healthy for me, so Please pray for me that I may have clarity & direction in establishing then in a manner that is Christ like.
    I am Resting in God’s Truth that the gift of His Spirit will allow me to be vulnerable here in our safe place to ask & receive the help I need to continue to grow in away that Pleases God & benefits those He calls us to journey with.
    As I reflect on the answers I wrote as I went through the Voice Studio in chapter 7 I am reminded of myself @ age three the B-I-B-L-E yes that is the book for me. I recall a year ago teaching this to a 3 year old & watching her eyes light up as she sang. When I worry let me remember Your word oh Lord is there waiting for me to discover the answer, your community is here as a place I can share be vulnerable & share the Victories we are able to claim together as we hear Your voice speak to our hearts & minds allowing us to heal & share the new voices You are giving us. Peace, Joy & Love today!

    • Beautiful words Marie!! Thank you for sharing and I pray we all have those big beautiful eyes like the three-year-old when we think of God’s word and how it can help us.

      • Thank You Sarah,
        I felt like that 3 year old sitting in chapel so proud my teenage niece was coming to meet Jesus with me ( it has been difficult times in the last few years, I did not force her He was speaking to her & she responded).
        Feeling so Blessed that I have found a place to ask prayer!

  3. I am so stricken by this phrase “How bad do I want it? Am I arranging my life around my desire? Am I living intentionally—in order to be who I want to be?” Unfortunately, the answer is a resounding NO! I am not arranging my life around it. I am not living intentionally. Though I want to….I long to. All I want is to be who God created me to be; and live the full life He came to give me. But my actions do not reflect that desire. I have prayed before, and I guess its time to pray it again, “Lord, allow the desires of my heart to come perfectly in alignment with your Will” I long to live the life He prepared in advance for me; not the life I chose based on my current circumstances. I want to be who He Created me to be; and not who the enemy says I was. So its time I choose which master I will serve……the truth or the lie. Truth all the way baby!!!!

    • Oh yes Janee…I so long for my desire to be God’s delight for my life—so want His plan to be how I live according to His will. So many times I have to stop rushing ahead and be still. So many times I struggle with the circumstances, the lies and problems in this world; but I must remember His WORD, His promises and the TRUTH as it is in Jesus.

  4. I think my weaknesses are holding a grudge and defending. I sometimes find myself, when faced with an “argument” or conflict, dragging in all they have done to me in the past to justify the hurt and anger I am feeling in that moment. I think that goes along with defending, I feel I need to defend my feelings and dragging up the past will help me defend what I am trying to say and how I’m feeling. I have come to realize I get no where when I do that, all it accomplishes in myself is more pain, hurt and anger and allows me to live in the past. It is not healthy. I have to constantly remind myself, if I find me there, to calm down and look at the conflict as a “here and now” issue, not an old issue that has already been settled.

    • Oh Tina, we women are so good at dragging up the past. Great job on living in the now and focusing on what matters. We can’t change the past!

    • I think as women, we look for validation in our feeling. It doesn’t mean we are right or wrong in our argument. It means we need to know that person heard, we are hurting.

    • I definitely have been a defender—the need to prove my innocence, justify myself or just be right??? Whatever I would “react” to criticism by becoming defensive–even if I was right it wasn’t right to react! The deep inner wound needed healing once and for all. It has taken years and I am still being refined. At least I can wait a little longer and respond knowing it isn’t always about me. It is good to be present in the moment but I do struggle with painful triggers from my past. Letting go, releasing in surrender and forgiving are powerful especially with my most intimate relationships.

    • Running is easy and hard at the same time. At some point we have to face our issues and the longer we run the harder it is to heal. Praying you reach out to Him for strength and you face whatever comes your way with Him at your side.

  5. I love this so much it is already such a blessing to have this I cannot wait to put this on my refrigerator and see it everyday

  6. Wonderful encouragement, Jo Ann! And I love printables. Sorry to be so absent. I still think you and your message are awesome. Keep up sharing the love of Jesus as He has called you to do, dear sister.

  7. I struggle with don’t mask or pretend. When I’ve let down my guard, I’ve had people figuratively slap me in the face for. I also struggle with grudges and running away.

    • I pray that you hold to the truth of who you are in Christ, my friend. I wore so many masks for years that even I forgot who I was.

      I pray that you are able to be the YOU God created you to be, for she is beautiful, and worthy to be loved.

  8. Oh the ‘My Don’t Stuff’ I NEED to do: Don’t hold onto a grudge, Don’t control, and Don’t let go of my joy. I get to encounter this training about once a week and sometimes at my own doorstep when my husbands ex-wife comes over to ‘speak’ a few choice words ‘at’ me 🙂 or at basketball games when she takes, what I feel, should be my place with my husbands parents. She talks with them and laughs with them and hugs on them. There is no way of controlling this no matter how much it bothers me. There is no escaping her. She’s everywhere. I know that I know that I know that God is allowing this to happen so I come to a place of total surrender. It’s very hard and awkward sharing my family with another woman who enjoys belittling me and I know she and my husbands step-mom talk about me. I must admit I have allowed it to steal my joy. ‘To focus on God when it seems everyone else is focused on her’ is my study during this season. 🙂

    • Oh Dear Bobbi,
      I wish I could not relate to what you are saying about someone else bothering you & allowing it to steal your joy, not the same (as in ex, even though I have experienced that). For me it is a current & ex sister-in-law & my oldest niece.
      So I will immediately pray:
      Dearest Jesus,
      Please send Your gift of the Holy Spirit to heal our hearts & minds especially when Satan attempts to steal our joy through others. Help us to stay focused on You Jesus & Your perfect LOVE for us Bobbi, I & our fellow sisters on this journey are claiming the Victory You have won for us! Amen.

    • Oh Bobbi, my heart grows tender as I read your words. I have been in this same place, years ago. And I wish I had vocalized it then as you are now and maybe, just maybe, I would have done a much better job of modeling Jesus in that very difficult situation.

      I pray that God’s opinion of you reigns HIGHER than anyone else’s. That you are able to pierce these untruths coming against you with the head and heart knowledge that you are deeply loved. And that somehow, even in this, God is working.

  9. The Don’t Run really speaks to me, I know my past is part of my testimony but sometimes it is so scary to think about sharing it because it’s not pretty. This is reminding me that my past could help someone have a better future, that someone (or a few someones) need to hear it and that because I am who God wants me to be today, I should have no fear of sharing where I’ve been! Thank you for this great post!

    • Hi Toni,

      Thanks for stopping by. And I’m thankful that you are paying attention to that lil God-nudge that our past can make a difference in someone’s future. Beautifully worded.

      Praying you through this.

    • Exactly how I am being prompted to participate Toni Patton.
      I spent many years in limbo, running from myself & avoiding others because it is not pretty.
      But now I realize He really can use everything for His Glory when our hearts are completely His!

  10. Once again I’m up at five to have the quiet time before I go to work to do my “JoAnn stuff.” So I’m re-reading chapter seven and come across the reference to Brene Brown. I go on line and see a link to her TED presentation on Vulnerability, and watch it. When she expresses the idea: Is it a breakdown or spiritual awakening?, I thought, Yes! I’ll take spiritual awakening. No shame in that anywhere, especially if it leads to authenticity and being present. That’s where I want to be, that’s where I’m going and sometimes, I’m there. Thank you so much JoAnn .

  11. Though all of these resound deep in my heart, I just have to favorite “Don’t give up on joy”. What a trip this has been, God has been digging deep into my heart as never before. The difference this time is I am trying to be very purposeful to not let the ick He digs into steal my joy. This is not say I don’t cry out to Him, beg for relief at times or even temporarily retreat. It is to say that in amongst what He is doing I am choosing to purposefully seek Joy; joy that goes beyond understanding, joy that reminds me simply that I know that I know that I know within this pain, within this trial and within this deep digging that My Father never leaves, that His desire for me is joy! I beg of Him to reveal joys amidst the pain……and He responds in the way only a loving Father can. And I continually pray, open my heart dear Lord to your joy, open my spiritual ears, eyes and heart so I may recognize the joy you so freely give even in the midst of pain!

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