Twice upon a time I lost my voice. Really. (And I don’t mean laryngitis.)
The first time I chased a boy. We were at summer camp. He was cute. I wanted him to notice me. Dashing into the lodge at the end of the lake he swung the door shut behind him. In hot pursuit, I flung my arms out to push the door open. But the door latched. Instead of opening it, my arms opened the panes of glass in the upper half of the door. My throat slammed into a narrow slat between the panes and stopped my face from following. I could not speak for several long weeks and it was early fall before I could sing again.
Years later, the love of my life turned his full focus to completing doctoral work. This meant our family of four faced the uncertainties of life without health insurance. I felt afraid. After all, our kids were four and six. So I found work teaching in a new charter school in Benton Harbor, Michigan.
Yay health insurance!
Yay work that I’m qualified for and do well! (Never mind that I don’t love it.)
Boo a style of teaching that requires giving endless verbal prompts throughout every class.
Even training in the care and keeping of my voice — from years of singing lessons — didn’t help. By the end of the first month I lost my voice and spent each weekend in silence, resting up so I could do it all again on Monday. Eventually, speechless weekends were not enough. I found another teaching position. Leaving first-graders before Thanksgiving is no easy choice. But I couldn’t go on. I spent the rest of the school year with another first-grade class regaining my voice, but felt trapped in work I did not love.
Why tell these tales? Because I learned some stunning lessons.
Lesson One: Never chase boys.
Lesson Two: Good people find good people. No chasing necessary.
Lesson Three: Grace really is amazing. My throat injury could have been fatal. I was spared.
Lesson Four: Fear is a lousy motivator.
Lesson Five: Because I’m qualified to do the work AND I do it well, does not mean that the work is right for me.
Lesson Six: It sucks to lose my voice! Along with my physical and mental health, I respect and honor my own voice and take care of it.
Lesson Seven: It may seem that I have to save myself or my family; to run after what I want/need or it will pass me by, to be smart, to pour energy into work that drains me. But saving myself and my family isn’t my job. It is not my sweet husband’s job.
It is God’s (the Universe, Higher Power, the Spirit) job to save me and bring me every good thing.
I’m done compartmentalizing; you know, living as if God handles the eternal, spiritual, ephemeral and I manage the temporal, physical, practical. What I’ve leared is that I either trust the divine with all aspects of life or none at all.
I choose total trust. This trust helps me —
Live more consistently and intentionally.
Take the next tiny step into the light.
And speak fearlessly, even when things are dark, with my own voice.
What life lesson have you learned? Chime in below.