Over the sound of running water and clanking dishes in the kitchen, I could hear my children discussing something as they cleaned up dinner. Their tone told me something was being debated.
My husband and I paused the conversation we were having in the other room to listen in and decide whether we needed to intervene or let them work it out.
We didn’t know the specifics of what they were arguing about but the tone told us most of the story. Our youngest had started to explain something, but he didn’t tell the details exactly right. So his sister helped him be a little more accurate. But that still didn’t suffice for the oldest brother, who then edited the story again to his specifications. Well, that in turn left Zach, who started the whole thing, feeling frustrated and deflated. It was like he needed to defend himself, his story and his right to tell his story his way.
All this from a tone.
Through my son and this situation, I recognized a fear I can struggle with.
It’s the fear of not being heard. Or of being heard but misunderstood.
Sometimes as a mom, my viewpoint, or opinion, or where I want to eat for lunch, or what I want to do on Saturday, is interrupted or overruled by others.
After a while, I’m left wondering if anyone hears me….or if anyone is listening. Really listening.
I don’t always say things right the first time and I especially don’t when I’m in the company of others who I know are critiquing my every word. Thoughts just get all jumbled up and fall off my tongue sideways in their presence. Which is why I’m a writer.
But silently, I’m wondering the same thing my youngest son was.
“Will you be patient with me if I don’t say this quite right? Will you give me the space and time I need to get over my fear and say what I mean with clarity and confidence? Or will you be quick to interject, correct, and point out my faults?”
Under all those questions is this basic desire:
I want my voice to be heard and add value to others.
So how do I do that when someone always seems to have a better story, or repeatedly interrupts or corrects my story? Can I ensure my voice is heard? My voice as a mom, a wife, and a person.
I believe the first step is to believe that my voice matters. And I have to believe this no matter who keeps talking over me or interrupting me or trumping my story with a bigger, better one. Furthermore, I have to stop and remind myself, Hey Julie, your voice matters! Don’t withdraw here.
No matter if you’re young or old, with children or without, gave birth by C-section or natural delivery, use oils or take medicine. You matter. Why? Because you were created by design and on purpose for a reason. And your voice, what you have to say, your perspective through your personality matters! The world would lack a certain color without you!
If you don’t believe this, you’ll believe the story everyone else will write over you and withdraw in self-doubt like my youngest can do. Like I can do.
I can’t guarantee others will always hear me, because I can’t control other people. I can’t MAKE THEM HEAR ME! But I can control me. There will always be “older siblings” who think they know more and know better and will interrupt my story to tell me so.
Since I can’t change that, I’m left with changing my response. And figuring out what defines my value. I want to change my tone from frustrated and deflated to confident and valued.
And it all starts with changing my thoughts.