Too Many Voices
by Stacey Stone, M.L.A., M.A.
“Why in the world did we think Sarah Jessica Parker…” but more on that in a moment. In today’s world, the ability to have too many voices speaking into your life is real, dangerous and unhealthy. As a radio personality, it is probably detrimental for me to post this warning as I ask my listeners each and every weekday to allow me to speak into their lives, but as a counselor-in-training, the voices that we allow to speak to us have a direct impact on our mental health.
We are living in the time of too many voices. I remember a past when the only voices we heard speaking into our lives were our families, friends, teachers, books and perhaps television (all five channels) and movies. Today, as I type this, those voices have increased to include anything on the Internet, podcasts, sermons on demand, pop up ads; the list goes on and on. I could unfortunately build a counseling practice from the people who walk through the door of my office who have been hurt on Facebook. Family member turning on family member, friend going up against friend in an area where there is no accountability for who says what.
So, when I found myself with too many voices speaking directly into my life, my only choice was to begin to purposefully limit who I was listening to. I began to ask myself three questions: what are they saying, what am I telling myself and who am I listening to?
The first question applies to my love of all things church. I love sermons. No really, I can listen to a really good sermon over and over again and get something different from it each time. I especially like women who teach and teach well. But there was something about so many messages that caused mixed signals in my own mind. Yes, the voices in my head were other people’s sermons, so I purposefully had to limit the amount of church I was listening to each week and know that the person who was sharing had spoken truthfully in the past or had helped me in some way in what God led them to teach.
When I take the time to ask myself what I am saying in my own mind, it becomes very clear that I freely tell myself things that I would never vocalize to someone else. I can be really brutal when the voices begin to tell me that I am not good enough or that I cannot get something done. But I continue to lift up other women who are thinking the same thing with no hesitation. So this question became very important to me and one I must monitor constantly. The vulnerability of this topic could take up an entire article; therefore, realize that the most important part of this discussion is that God does not make you think thoughts that tear you down so neither should you.
And finally, back to Sarah Jessica Parker and my total trust in her opinion by not asking myself who am I listening to. My step-daughters came to New York City to visit my husband and I when we lived there. After a morning of sightseeing, walking and overall pure joy, we were hungry. I noticed that we were in a neighborhood on the Upper East Side that had been discussed on TV. I explained that one day last week I had been walking past the television and noticed that the actor Sarah Jessica Parker was being interviewed and she was talking about her favorite places to eat in Manhattan. I love to eat and I love Manhattan, so I sat down and listened while she explained that there was this hamburger place that she just loved. The girls were up for an adventure so, after my big Hollywood actor recommendation, the four of us went to the place mentioned. It was one of the worst experiences of our lives.
Let me explain. The super cute booths with the adjustable trays in the front of the restaurant were off limits to us for some reason (even though no one was sitting there) and we ended up at a table in the back near the kitchen. The waiter was not pleased that we existed, so when we ordered hamburgers and drinks, he simply stated okay and walked away. What arrived at our table was a meat patty, two pieces of bread and nothing else. We all looked at each other and I waved down our waiter exclaiming, “This is it?!?!?” “Yes” was his only response and as he started to walk off, I demanded mustard to save the moment. “But you didn’t order mustard,” came from his mouth as he exited Kitchen Left.
We ate our beef and buns then exited the building as quickly as we could. Oh yeah, $35.00 for those three patties and six buns. As we silently walked down the busy Manhattan street with our stomachs still growling, my step-daughter exclaimed something profound, “Why in the world did we think Sarah Jessica Parker world know a good hamburger?” Through our laughter, I realized that the person making the recommendation, be it life changing advice or hamburger related, must at least have some modicum of expertise. My extremely stinky hamburger experience came from my trusting nature of someone because she was on television, and I must limit the voices that are found there that may just be misleading or not an expert at all.
“But, Stacey, if we ask all of the questions and only listen to the voices that matter, who will we hear from most?” My answer to that question is Jesus and me. Before you think that to be egotistical, know that Jesus and me is my humble response to how I am handling the world. When I was receiving too many mixed messages from the church, it was Jesus and me who worked through what was true, kind and necessary. My mind can pick up on when I am starting to run down myself and the negativity that I am accomplishing; but it is Jesus and me who know how to dispute that. And finally, when I need the best recommendation on life and what is ahead, Jesus and me are working on that together. And I completely rest in knowing that He knows what is best, especially when it comes to the hamburger of our emotions and the voices we are allowing inside.
Stacey Stone is currently serving God in this nation’s capital on WGTS 91.9 with her husband Johnny. She has written The Rescued Breed: When Jesus Shows Up and Transforms Your Pack, and enjoys a guest blogger post on several sites. Her second book, 3, 2, 1, HOPE is currently being lived and written about in God’s plan for Stacey’s life.
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