I hate country music. Yes, even (more accurately--especially) Taylor Swift. So you can imagine how dismaying it is to me that I have a certain 'country' quality to my singing voice. If I'd ever wanted to pursue singing professionally my best bet would've been in the twangy genre of my middle American heritage. That was not an option.
My country girl pipes emerge most often when I'm around my little brother, who also has a natural country sound and a perplexing affection for this style of music. Its like an irresistible force when we sing together. One minute I'm a perfectly reasonable person and the next I'm slapping my knee and sliding into every note.
But most of the time my voice expresses itself best with a melodic ballad or soulful hymn. And on really special occasions its belting out Bach with a chorus of voices.
So what is my true voice?
Who Am I? (and other fluffy questions)
This is what I've been asking myself for the last year. Not about my singing voice, but about my writing voice. My speaking voice. In essence, I've been analyzing again "Who am I, what do I have to say, and what is the most authentic way to say it?"
This is proving more difficult than I expected because, as with my singing voice, I can authentically express myself in a number of ways. In any given week I'm likely to be writing management tips in the morning, creating Bible Study tools in the afternoon and blogging about parenting in the evening. Some days I feel compelled to write about whats wrong with the church and other days I just want to tell you how much I love Jesus. And there are seasons when I feel ready to share the successes in my journey and others when I'm laying bare my failures. So, how in the hell do I figure out what to say and how to say it? (And, yes, some of my voices include mild profanity--sorry mom!)
Truth be known, this is largely a result of being told my writing was 'complainy' and 'demoralizing' by a large publishing company. In case you are wondering--that was definitely not the voice I was going for.
I'm much more likely to be criticized for being Pollyanna-ish than pessimistic so I was forced to rethink my strategy. As I reviewed my writing of late I came to the conclusion that its possible I'm confusing my voices. You know--trying to sing country using my choir voice.
As a woman, I am quite adept at exhibiting the behaviors I believe are expected from me and that makes clarifying my unique and authentic voice a bit more complicated. At different times I've had a fair amount of peace around this and I wish I could just settle it, once and for all. But apparently, this must be done in stages. Bleh!
Prayer and Process of Elimination
As with any situation involving lots of choices, I find it easiest to start with crossing off some of the less ideal ones. So I have eliminated some potential 'voices' from the running. I know I'm not a cultural activist (Rachel Held Evans) or spiritual giant (Beth Moore) or Christian lifestyle leader (Jen Hatmaker) or researcher (Brene' Brown) or poet and political activist (Anne Lamont) or sweet, creative encourager (Ann Voskamp).
But now that I know who I'm not, I'm going to have to do the work of clarifying who I am. And that is freaking me out a bit. What I do know is my story involves no great tragedy or social issue. It is supremely ordinary. And I don't want to whine about it!
So I'm praying as I write and working harder at finding my voice for this season. The one God gave me for such a time as this. And I've promised him I'll sing as loudly as I can or as softly as he asks--even if he suggests I add some twang.
How about you? Do you know your voice? How did you find it?
In my next blog I'll share a few principles that are helping me clarify my voice in this new season. Hope you'll stay tuned.
Kelli is a writer, speaker and consultant equipping leaders for a deepening intimacy with Christ, greater impact in ministry and more effective intentionality in all of life.
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