Amy Carroll » Speak » Leaving Self-Protective Silence Behind

Leaving Self-Protective Silence Behind

Alright… here we go gang. I’m officially breaking my self-protective silence. Today, we’re diving headfirst into the last step of our process to develop a tender heart and a strong voice.

Listen –> Feel –> Do –> Speak

(Remember that process? If you need a review you can reread “God’s Path to Tender Hearts and Strong Voices.”)

I have to confess that I’ve been procrastinating instead of writing. Why? Because “speak” is the scariest step for me.

When I was a girl, especially in middle school and early in high school, I was incredibly opinionated and loved the sound of those opinions coming out of my mouth. I craved a debate, and I relished crushing you in a war of words.

Then something life-altering happened to me. At 16, I stalked a boy to a Bible study. That’s right. God will use any means to get you where He wants you. He leveraged my obsession for musical men to get me to a place with people like I had never experienced. There was revival of teenagers happening at this study, and it was led by people who had made Jesus everything.

I had never experienced relationship with Jesus like that, but I wanted what they had.

The musician-crush faded while my passion for Jesus grew, and I’ve never been the same.

One transformation that God did during that time is that He shut my mouth. As He taught me His higher ways and higher thoughts, I realized that my opinion was worth… well, the proverbial two cents. Learning to value God’s Word over my own words was a necessary but painful dying-to-self process in my life.

Choosing silence was an act of obedience at that point. (And God called it good!)

But years later, silence became something else entirely. Instead of choosing silence to learn more about God, I started choosing silence about important topics as a way to:

  • Fit in.
  • Get along.
  • Seem righteous.
  • Fit the acceptable mold for a Christian woman.
  • Protect my reputation.

About three years ago, I realized that my silence had gone from being truly righteousness to outright disobedience. I had let the silence stretch too long, letting self-protection be my reason for silence, not righteousness. There were things I should have been speaking up about.

When I first started writing through this process, I claimed that I had been silenced by the noisy extremes, but that’s only a tiny bit true. In working through the details, I’ve realized that the truth is that I wasn’t silenced at all. I chose silence to protect myself. That’s been a painful truth to process.

God shone His light on my heart and showed me that it needed work but that He had a purpose for my voice. Self-protective silence wasn’t an option anymore. It had become sinful behavior.

God has a purpose for your voice too. I hope that you’ve hung in there with me this long because you already have a sense that it’s true. God wants for His people to hone their tender hearts and raise their winsome voices for Him.

So let’s do this together! I’ve been reluctant to dive into this last step because, truly, I’m such a beginner. It’s ok, though, since I have some friends that can teach us all. Here’s how the upcoming posts will roll:

  • Next time, I’ll write a little about what a strong voice sounds like in God’s economy.
  • Then, I’ll write about what it doesn’t sound like. (Let’s identify the pitfalls up front!)
  • Following that post, I’ll interview friends that I see using their strong voices in compelling ways so that we can learn from them.

We can do this together! We can leave self-protective silence behind and start to speak God’s perspective into our spaces.

I’ve felt reluctant about this step. How are you feeling? Have you been silent too long for the wrong reasons?

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  1. Amy,
    I can hear God’s still small voice leading me here in this. As a young girl I wasn’t allowed to have a voice and it transferred into my marriage as an adult and in other ways. This highly sensitive people pleasing girl gets stuck in the next step of having difficult conversations when I hear God’s Spirit prompting me.
    Thank you for leaning into this!

    1. Amy Carroll says:

      Diana, it’s interesting to hear how we have different paths to silence. I’m so glad we’re learning together, and I’m excited to see how God uses this movement of women strengthening their voices for Him.

  2. Edwina E Cowgill says:

    What encouraging words! I’ve been silent for far too long for some of the same reasons you listed. Thank you for your courage in sharing this!

    1. Amy Carroll says:

      Hugs to you, Edwina! We’ll walk past those old barriers together.

  3. Yes, yes, yes!! God has gifted every single one of us with a story, and a voice to share it. I’m right there with you, friend. I agree that we need to find responsible ways to use our voices- ways that spark authentic conversations that lead to growth…voices that build bridges, not walls. Voices that ultimately glorify God and advance His kingdom through love. Cheering you on!

    1. Amy Carroll says:

      Yes to bridges! Learning to interact with love with those I disagree with is my biggest hurdle, but I’m praying, praying, praying for God to teach me.

  4. Erica Rountree says:

    This is good and something I’ve felt for a long time. The trick is in keeping my heart tender. Very hard in today’s environment but I know it’s what God wants from us.

    1. Amy Carroll says:

      I totally agree, Erica. That’s one of the main things I’ve become aware of. My teen-aged, big-mouthed self can show back up in a minute. I’m trying to learn to harness my passion (still an important emotion that I don’t want to snuff out) but lead with wisdom. Too many times I’ve lead with passion that’s really fleshly instead of the wisdom of the Spirit. Let’s keep working and learning together!

  5. You are right on the money for me. I have kept my voice to avoid confrontation with my husband for way too long. I have not spoken up for injustices towards others for fear of being shut down. God has been working on me in this area for a bit and I can feel a shift in my heart towards Him. Thanks for putting into words what has been happening to me.

    1. This is where I tend to be wrongly silent- to avoid conflict with my husband. Part of it is from my past marriage, where sharing my feelings made lots of trouble with a mentally disordered spouse.
      Need to leave the (probably unnecessary and definitely unhelpful) self-protective silence behind.

      1. Amy Carroll says:

        Jenn, it’s a tender place for sure to speak up in our marriages. One of the amazing things that God is showing me as I lean into having the hard conversations that I once avoided is that there’s greater intimacy/closeness on the other side. When I listen to understand first, hard conversations can turn into deeper connections. Praying for you as we learn this together!

    2. Amy Carroll says:

      Whew! Speaking up in our closest relationships can be the hardest. I’m so glad we’re in this together!

  6. Thanks for this message. I would say I’ve been through the same process. I, too, find it hard to speak up and say what I think, even after years of study of the Word. The problem is that when I try to express myself, I find I am not good at doing so verbally. I do better in letters. I do not do well on social media, often finding myself unable to find words, even in sharing about myself.

    1. Amy Carroll says:

      Mary, I’m not sure you’re so wrong about social media. I see it as a tool for some things, but often it’s a terrible place to try to have a conversation where there’s a difference involved. It sounds like you’re measured with your words, which is a good thing. We’ll try to unpack all this in upcoming weeks!

      (Concerning sharing about yourself… I don’t know if you’re like me, but I often find myself comparing my eloquence to others and coming up short. I encourage you to just be yourself. I’m trying to remember that too!)

  7. Deborah Daigle says:

    wow this touches home with me. I am quiet to a fault.

    1. Amy Carroll says:

      Praying for God to give wisdom to all of us about when we need to be silent and when we need to speak. <3