Growing up, I learned that the only voices I was to trust were those outside of me. Parents. My elders. Pastors. Scripture. And most certainly God. Somehow, even though I’d “invited Jesus into my heart,” that didn’t include listening to my heart. The idea of giving credence to any voice within was anathema. Frankly, I didn’t even consider it for decades. And when I DID hear a voice within, I knew it was not only untrustworthy but to be outright rejected. Unless, of course, it summoned guilt or shame. Those two were undoubtedly on the mark and accurate. (Just to be clear: I’m being facetious.)
I don’t say this in critique of my upbringing. I’m pretty sure your experience was similar, regardless of your faith / religious background or lack thereof. Few of us were taught to value and honor a woman’s inner knowing, her intuition, the voice of her heart. Fewer still of us were taught to value and honor our own inner knowing, our own intuition, the voice of our own heart.
So, when I did begin to hear an increasingly louder voice within, I was not sure what to do. At first, guilt and shame were my go-to’s. I was convinced that what I heard, thought, and felt was wrong! But as the voice persisted, I began to recognize that it was consistently counter to what people expected me to say, let alone do. In fact, most of the time, it asserted thoughts and ideas and emotions that were the opposite of what those in “authority” in my life at the time wanted from me: my husband, the church, and most certainly the God I had come to know.
That was then and this is now. Admittedly, there is lots in between the two, but let’s focus on the now, for now.
Now, when I hear the voice within that refutes or contradicts external “authority,” I know to follow it immediately. I know it to be exactly what I must trust. It is, without question or doubt, how I discern what to do, what is right, what is best.
Which explains why I so love this quote:
There can never be a spiritual authority outside of me that is greater than this voice I hear within, this voice of my own uncaged heart.
~ Meggan Watterson, Mary Magdalene Revealed
For most of us, when we even consider listening to the voice within, to the voice of our own uncaged heart, we are instantly bombarded with a mile-long list of risks, costs, and consequences.
- If I follow the voice of my heart, then I will be misunderstood.
- If I follow the voice of my heart, then others might get hurt.
- If I follow the voice of my heart, then I will pay a price that’s more than I can afford.
- If I follow the voice of my heart, then I might lose an opportunity, a job, a relationship, even more.
- If I follow the voice of my heart, then I can no longer pretend.
- If I follow the voice of my heart, then I have to be strong enough to follow through.
- If . . . then . . .
- If . . . then . . .
- If . . . then . . .
I’m not going to tell you that the above aren’t realistic or worth consideration. In fact, I’m far more honest when I tell you that every one of them should be expected! I wish I could say anything other, but I know better—from personal experience and in the lives of my clients, my friends, and others. As long as I’m being honest, let me also say that it has been my fear of exactly these things that has kept me from listening to the voice within. Instead, I’ve doubled-down on compromise and compliance, biding my time in the hopes that eventually something (someone) would change instead of me having to be the one to do so.
But as I said above, it is the conflict itself—the difference between the voice within and any voice of “authority” in my external world—that now tells me I’m on the right track. DISSONANCE IS A GIFT! The tension itself IS the voice of my uncaged heart calling me back to myself, to what’s true, to what’s possible, to what I desire, to what is in complete integrity and alignment, and to my own authority, to what I know-that-I know-that-I know every. single. time. Listen. Can you hear it? The voice within? The part of you that would, if it could, be free and expansive and passionate and unbridled and unrestrained and awake and alive?
Mmmmm. That is your uncaged heart, to be sure—beating, thrumming, speaking, singing, longing. That is all the authority you need to know-that-you-know-that-you-know every. single. time.
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