I think that when we see others achieve things with such great heights, we assume that every other area of their life is soaring just as high. It seems that for something to be so high-achieving, then everything else around them should be, too. This may especially be true of a singer, whose craft, their voice, is expected to be as polished and perfect and strong on the inside as it is on the outside. You may not expect that a Grammy Award winner with millions of albums sold struggled with her voice. Sandi Patty did. Over her life she silenced her voice because of situations and choice. And as she dug her way out of shame, she realized that the biggest tool she had to truly receive the grace of God was through her voice. Not the same one that won so many awards. But her true, inner, personal, God-designed voice. It’s a grace to welcome Sandi Patty to the farm’s front porch today…
The beautiful thing about getting older and a bit more healthy is that you grow in new ways—new behaviors, new boundaries, new words, new friendships.
The hard thing about getting healthy is that you grow in all those same ways. Learning something new when you have long-established patterns can be a significant challenge.
Put another way, growth is just downright hard. Worth it, but hard.
I have a friend who is a recovering alcoholic, now five years sober.
I recently noticed that he was doing many new things—traveling a good bit and taking some cooking and art classes. I finally asked him why he was so busy and how he could still be working full time yet have so much time to play.
He said, “Sandi, you have to understand that I spent so much time drunk, I had to figure out what to do with all this extra time. I’ve had to learn how to live differently. Now that I’m sober, I have so much time that I didn’t used to have, so my sponsors from Alcoholics Anonymous encouraged me to learn new things.”
I believe that those of us who are growing from voicelessness into the full expression of who we are created to be in Christ Jesus would do well to follow my friend’s example.
Let’s invest ourselves in learning new skills to live differently so that our voices become richer and fuller expressions of who we are in Jesus. This means learning new skills. We must set ourselves up for success.
In the past few years, my mom shared that, in her family of origin, she knew that she was loved, but she never really heard the words. Her parents simply were not verbally expressive of their love with one another or with her.
Consequently, before her marriage to my dad, she never learned how to say the words “I love you.”
When she and my dad got married, my dad was very free to say “I love you.” Slowly, my mom learned how to say “I love you” back to him. But when my two younger brothers and I were born, Mom worried that she wouldn’t know how to naturally say “I love you” to us.
So Mom, determined to become comfortable and natural in expressing her love verbally, would wait at night until we three were sound asleep, and stand over us and practice these important words.
“I love you, Sandi.”
“I love you, Mike.”
“I love you, Craig.”
She practiced saying the words so that when the time came, she would feel comfortable saying them to us.
Isn’t that a beautiful picture of a young mother eager to grow into using her voice to be the kind of mother she wanted to be?
She started adding today several years ago when my youngest brother, Craig, was in a serious car crash. He sustained a head injury and was in a coma for many weeks. And so, not knowing how much longer we would have him on this earth, and not knowing whether we would have him tomorrow,she added the word today.
“Craig, I love you today!” And so now that has become a family story and a constant saying for all of us. We love you today!
I was reading Philippians 4:4–9 recently, and it sparked an illustration of how we can grow and practice our spiritual voices. Here is the rich instruction that Paul wrote to the believers in Philippi:
Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.
What if you and I practiced using our voices in these ways? Imagine how beautiful and strong our voices could become.
As the mom of a large blended family, I’d love to influence my family (and friends) by having my voice be one of rejoicing, praying for requests with thanksgiving, abiding in peace, and reflecting on such a wondrous list of qualities.
You see? I’m following in my mother’s footsteps of practicing what I want to come naturally to me.
As a work in progress, I am purposing to put into practice what I’ve learned from Philippians.
I am rejoicing that God is all powerful and can break through my strongholds.
I am making my request known to God: Lord, break through this area in my life where the enemy has such a hold on me. Lord, be in that situation in our family right now God.
And I’m offering thanksgiving to God that He hears my voice and knows my struggle and looks on me with compassion.
I am also praying for His peace in these areas, and I am choosing to think on what God has shown me to be true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, and praiseworthy when it comes to food.
I am learning to trust more and more that God wants what is best for me and to be willing to practice, practice, practice, just like my mom did —
so that I may more and more become the person God created me to be.
Sandi Patty is the most awarded female vocalist in contemporary Christian music history, with forty Dove Awards and five Grammy Awards. She was inducted into the Gospel Music Hall of Fame in 2004, releasing over thirty albums with over 12 million albums sold. Sandi was introduced to the world with her rendition of “The Star-Spangled Banner” during the rededication of the Statue of Liberty in 1986. Virtually overnight she became one of the country’s best-loved performers. Sandi and her husband, Don, have been married for over 20 years and are a proud blended family, with eight children and three grandchildren.
Christian music icon and forty-time Dove award winner, Sandi Patty has long astounded listeners with her powerful voice. And yet, off the stage, Sandi struggled to have a voice at all.
Through deeply intimate stories of her life and the empowering spiritual truths she’s learned, in her newly released book, The Voice, Sandi offers readers wisdom to navigate the journey from voicelessness to discovering the voice God has given you. With a poignant history of sexual abuse, infidelity, divorce, and crises of self-image, Sandi lived much of her life feeling unworthy of love or value. And like so many of us, she coped by living through the voices of others, allowing other people to prescribe her identity. As she performed around the world, Sandi met others just like her, who hid wounds behind quiet smiles and struggled to live with fractured identities.
Sandi’s warm and invitational writing will draw you to the voice of God who sings over your life saying you are seen, you are loved, and your voice is worth hearing.
[ Our humble thanks to Zondervan for their partnership in today’s devotion ]