I started strong, I whispered, my lips were moving but no sound came, then I croaked and stammered. I was thinking, ‘God, what is happening?’ I brought my message to a close, handed the meeting to the worship leader and returned to my seat.
‘You have vocal palsy.’ I heard the specialist say. ‘I have what?’ was my surprised reply. ‘One of your vocal cords is paralysed’, he explained.
I experienced severe vocal limitations for the next twelve months. Church became an incredibly frustrating place to be. Whenever I raised my voice to talk over background sounds, my voice disappeared altogether. I couldn’t sing. I couldn’t lead a meeting. I couldn’t preach. I couldn’t pray for people. I was mute.
I hit a crisis point in my life. If God hadn’t been the unwavering foundation of my self-image I would have travelled through this traumatic time with a much greater level of difficulty than I did.
You see, if your self-image is based solely on you, your own abilities and achievements, then you are on shaky ground. A self-based self-image only works while life and leadership are going well. When waves of trouble and opposition pound you, instead of being able to sink your feet deeper into the sand for stability, you will tumble over and over not knowing which way is up.
Your ability to move through a crisis, accomplish your dreams, your God planned purposes, your success in everyday life, to be the very best you you can possibly be is exceedingly intertwined with your inner world, your view of self or your self-image.
You can be both knowledgeable and gifted, but if you lack self-esteem, or have a deflated value of self, you will not reach your fullest potential in life or leadership. To quote Dr Phil Pringle, ‘Life is lived from the inside out, not the outside in’.
I SURVIVED vocal palsy by having my self-image based on the unwavering foundation of my God.
How did I do this? I did this by knowing Him. I allowed the cry of Paul, ‘that I may know Him’ (Phil 3:10) reverberate around in my head and heart until it became such an intense desire that action was necessary to make it become a reality.
3 ways our knowledge of God grows:
- Communication with Him: Talk, pray, sing, worship, chat away about anything and everything, involve Him in every area of your daily life.
One way I do this is by using my mobile phone. I put my phone on silent, put it to my ear and then talk to God. This makes communication with God extensively assessable. You can talk to Him while walking, waiting in a café, on the train, while shopping. Nobody will take the slightest notice of you because everyone is talking to someone on their phone. You can even talk in tongues.
- Ask God to help you know Him. Ask questions like, ‘Is there something You want to show me about Yourself in this situation?’ ‘What is it You would like me to learn here?’ ‘Please take me to a deeper level of knowing You?’
‘He made known His ways to Moses, His acts to the children of Israel’. (Ps 103:7) Moses knew the ways of God, the others were only observers of what He did. I didn’t want to just know what God did, I had a deep longing to know His person.
- Meditate in, study, read the word of God. While doing so, look for the person of God, His character, His nature, His reasoning, what He is thinking, His emotional responses.
The more we know our God, the more we trust Him and allow Him into our inner world of self. You, your circumstances or life as you know it may change. Through your continuously increasing knowing of God, you establish a solid belief that He does not change.
I SURVIVED vocal palsy by having my self-image based on an unwavering foundation of believing what my God says about me in His word.
No one and no happening will be able to shake me from my inner conviction that I am a daughter of God. He has known me from my mother’s womb, while I was a sinner He died for me, He set me apart for Himself and made me exclusively His, and He planned His purposes for my life. (Eph 1:5, Ps 139:13-16, Rom 5:8, Jer 1:5)
He guides me with His eye upon me, He knows what I need before I ask, He has every hair on my head numbered, as I turn I will hear His still small voice, He is my good shepherd and so much more. (Ps 32:8, Matt 6:32, Matt 10:30, Ish 30:21, Ps 23:1)
With an awareness of God’s heart toward us, founded in His word, we can confidently retain a significant level of self-view. When thoughts which have the power to shatter us come we can counter attack by replacing that thought with the word.
That first thought which enters your mind needs to be captured, controlled and dealt with. First thoughts that aren’t captured and replaced with the word of God the moment you think them, have permission to run through your mind causing mass destruction.
Some example replacement thoughts are:
I can’t do this – Yes, I can. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me – Phil 4:13
I’m not like her – No, I’m not. I am a unique individual with equal value. I am fearfully and wonderfully made – Ps 139:4
I’m fearful – Of course I am. Feel the fear and do it anyway. Be strong and courageous for I am with you – Josh 1:9
I’m a nobody – No, I’m not. I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are Mine – Ish 43:1
When we capture that first thought, capture, control and deal with it, we are doing 2 Cor 10:5, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ.
During the duration of my vocal cord paralysis I was hit with a bout of depression, had three months off work, was under the care of my throat specialist and worked with my speech therapist.
There were days when my thoughts ran in a million directions at once. To empower myself to move through self-doubt and hold tightly to a healthy self-view I stepped up to the next level of training my mind not to run wild with that first thought.
When we base our self-image on God Himself by knowing Him, as well as understanding and believing what He says about us in His word, we stand on an unwavering foundation from which to live life well.
My vocal cord healed itself over a time span of about a year and a half.