Women have historically shied away from using their voices. In some circles, women are told they are inconsequential, non-contenders from whom little is expected. Women are at times robbed of the economic, social, or educational opportunities they need to fully understand or project their voices. In other places—including the church—women are told their voices are incomplete until they jump through a particular set of cultural hoops (marriage, children, domestic achievement). Has your voice been limited in any of these ways?
Interestingly, Jesus encourages women to boldly use their voices. When he meets the Samaritan Woman at the well in John 4, he engages with her story. She is a scandal-clad nobody, dismissed from her community, a woman whose life was muted and scorned. Then she meets Jesus. He receives her story. He honors her with the gift of conversation and does not disregard her. Jesus calls her out on her past. He trusts she can handle it. He embraces her life and she makes the fullest proclamation of faith in the Book of John up to that point. Jesus so encourages her to use her voice that she races off to her village and employs her auditory voice to share the gospel. She is the first evangelist cited in the book of John, and her audible and narrative voice make a huge kingdom impact.
What if this Samaritan woman had hesitated or edited herself? What if Jesus had insisted she follow cultural protocol? After all, she was female in a male-dominated world. She was a Samaritan woman found alone who had just chatted it up with an upstanding Jewish Rabbi! Who would believe her? On that note, who would believe a tired seamstress like Rosa Parks? Who would believe you or I have anything to contribute to the world?
The God of the universe has given you a voice, and the world needs to hear it. It is a great loss when we allow self-doubt, cultural expectations, or the misguided voices of others to mute us. To have a voice is to live that which is true about you and God. It is to tell the story (through words or otherwise) of grace, forgiveness, love, mercy, and justice. It is to show others, in your unique way, that there is a God who loves and embraces us all.
Take a moment this week to consider what is currently muting your voice: