Another weekend, another wrestling tournament for our 9-year-old. He loves every minute of it, every take-down, every bruise, every pin. And I love to watch him wrestle.
Before the tournament began, the huge gymnasium was swarming with kids and coaches and parents and referees. Kids practiced on the mats and ran in circles and laughed out loud. Coaches tried to bring order, to get the wrestlers ready for their matches. The organizers made last second preparations. And for a moment, I lost track of Sam.
But I picked him out quickly. He was looking around with some of his clothes in his hand, obviously looking for me so that he could get rid of all that extra stuff and get down to the fun of warming up and tackling his friends.
“Over here!” I shouted, and even though my voice was nearly drowned out by the voices of hundreds of other kids and adults, and even though I didn’t use his name, he somehow recognized that it was me calling for him. He turned. He saw me. And he came running.
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In that moment, when I shouted “Over here!” and he turned towards me, I thought how interesting it was that he actually recognized my voice in the middle of all that chaos, all those competing voices, everyone trying to communicate something to someone else. But the more I thought about it, the less strange it became.
After all, he hears my voice every day. Without realizing it, he knows the inflection of my voice, its tone. He could probably tell you what kind of a mood I’m in, just by the sound of me.
Do you see the question this is leading to?
What voice do you recognize and respond to?
Do you hear the siren song of more money always more money and turn, follow it wherever it leads?
Do you follow the voice of desire, experience, feeling, adventure?
Are you drawn to the voice of things? Shiny, new wonderful things?
Are you obsessed with the voice of Fox News or CNN or CNBC, being discipled by their “information,” their way of seeing the world, and then living out their calling and mission?
If you’re a Christian, do you even recognize the voice of Jesus? How? When do you make time to listen, to grow accustomed to his tone, his inflection, his pace of speaking?
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I’ve been thinking a lot about how the voices I listen to, the voices I listen for, shape the way I live and the choices I make. In my writing life, am I more dedicated to following the voices that promise fame and success than anything else? Or am I willing to continue on, steadfast on the path set before me, no matter where it leads, following the voice that says, “Keep going,” “Keep trying,” “Keep writing”?
The truth is, every single one of us allows voices into our lives on a consistent basis that will shape the direction we go.
What voices are you listening to? What voices do you quickly respond to? What voices shape the direction of your life?
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By the way, if you get a chance, check out this wonderful review of my book Once We Were Strangers over at Christianity Today.