I grew up hearing the phrase, “Children should be seen and not heard.”
As a result, I believed that my voice had no value. Even more than that, I feared punishment for speaking.
I excelled at being voiceless. Without a sound to carry, I was muted and overlooked. I became neither seen nor heard.
I grew up not knowing where I fit. I grew up feeling different. I grew up feeling like no one cared about me.
The loneliness and fear that comes from being voiceless made me victim to the words of others.
Sometimes I feel like I was born with a heart too big for this world. I was meek, sensitive, and shy. Off the cuff comments from others seemed to slice me open.
When spoken to, I fumbled and bumbled not knowing what to say or how to say it. The embarrassment and rejection cut holes in my too-big-heart. Yet without a voice, I had no expression to flush out my pain. I would hide away in books or journals, writing the things I dare not say aloud.
In those moments of emotional pain, I would run to my room, hiding myself in a dark closet so my clothes would muffle the sound of my cries. Times when I felt left out, times when I was rejected, times when I felt uncomfortable in my own skin.
I excelled at being both voiceless and hidden.
The Bible says, “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.”
I didn’t know which way to go so I became lost. As I grew older, I became a wandering sheep, and an easy target for wolves. I was a sensitive and shy young girl with a too-big-heart, trained in hiding and silence.
Each time I was sexually assaulted or abused or harassed or deceived, I kept my mouth shut out of fear that I would be in trouble. I was afraid of the consequences.
When I became pregnant with my daughter, her life gave me the courage to start speaking up. But by then, no one would listen.
I’d been voiceless too long. Hidden too long. Fearful too long.
I felt cast off and ignored. The world carried on around me. So I stopped speaking once again and returned to hiding.
Soon after I got baptized, a young man who didn’t know my story prophesied to me.
“I see you as a young girl, and you are hiding in a closet.”
I felt myself shatter into a thousand different pieces. I’d never told anyone about my secret place as a child. I’d buried the memory down in the dusty, dirty recesses of my heart.
God spoke to me through one of His prophets to let me know that He was there through all the darkness. Even though I’d been voiceless and hidden to the world, God saw me. God heard me.
I didn’t know God growing up, but He knew me.
Countless times over the last year, God showed me He was there all along. He loved me then, and He loves me now.
And He has sent amazing leaders into my life who listen when I speak, encourage me when I’m afraid, and pray for the wounds of the past to be healed.
God never created me to be voiceless and hidden. He created me to carry a sound to share with others.
God’s children are meant to be seen AND heard.
“You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.”
I never thought I’d be sharing my story, but here I am a year after getting baptized. A year of discipleship has given me the courage to share my heart. I’m still overcoming those wounds of the past, but I’ve never been more hopeful for the future.