It has been five years since I have started to ask others to share their writing through these compilations. This year though is the first year that I am asking people to write every day through teaching. As I ask my students to write, I am constantly reminded that the process of writing is personal and unique to each writer. It is hard and often frustrating, but writing on paper or typing our words on a screen is also a place where we each have the opportunity to speak what we see, hear, and think.
Every day I am blown away by the words my students write. I am blown away by the words they speak on paper and out loud. They have so much to say. Stories, experiences, and thoughts that matter greatly and that have been changing me. They are the inspiration behind this prompt “speak”.
Enjoy these writing pieces my friends. The authors, individually and together, create another powerful conversation. May their words meet you where you are at and speak to you. There is empowerment behind it all!
A few words from me…
Fear loves to quiet the voices within us that are dying to speak. Fear can keep us from speaking the words of love another may need. Fear can keep us from speaking up for ourselves when someone else’s words or actions belittle us. Fear can keep us from speaking for what we believe in. Fear can keep us from speaking our words onto a page due to wandering what others may think.
And I have learned that fear isn’t just something we can easily wish away. We all batt;e it in some way. But, what I will say, is that we each have to encourage and fight for one another to – Speak anyways.
Speak through the fear. Speak over the fear. Speak to the fear. Do not let it take you and your words away.
Speak the words you need to say. You never know who needs those words too.
the slow drop
of any drain.
your blood flow.
And dragging your soul
Or do you show blue in
Blue like the sky’s famed?
it can’t be
It flows Red from My Veins.
Messy like Membrane.
Showering me in Shame.
Just like an old flame,
That good ole best friend,
The wild cat that stands in the wind,
We teach ourselves to speak.
Our infant tongues mull over
Sounds. Arch the tongue,
Tip to teeth–control the air.
Make your voice: here, now.
We babble out sounds,
And learn how to mean.
Metaphor is our first fluency.
But the rest of our lives
Are spent learning
To hold our tongues.
Not now–talk later,
Wrong place, wrong time.
There are sounds you can make–
Don’t make them. There are
Thoughts better left to hot air.
But living a life with words
Chained to our throats is
A conquest in censorship,
An experiment in self-destruction.
When we speak,
We speak for ourselves.
Your voice loses no value
Just because they scold
Air passing between our teeth.
We were given weapons–
They have no reign over
How we use them.
So, speak your truth.
Break chains, pull triggers
That will shatter overgrown expectations.
Language is a gift.
Do not squander yourself
To placate others.
We are wordsmiths,
So light a fire under the forge
And get to work.
A life of curated silence
Is no life lived.
you say “I’m listening”
because your screen knows your face
better than I do. I’m sorry, you’ve lost my respect.
did you know?
the world isn’t revolved around you.
“speak your mind! But don’t say too much. No really! By all means, share your opinion! Just as long as it fits the box.”
i’m sorry, should I even dare?
i’ll keep my mouth shut
i don’t know how you do it.
all the right words at all the right times
i think I’ve heard that before.
do you even know what you’re saying?
well your actions don’t show it.
i guess you’ve become an expert
at tricking people into thinking
that you actually care.
but let’s face it- your mind isn’t really here.
it’s 30 minutes ahead. Preparing for the next place you’re going.
i’m sorry, I won’t fall for your tricks this time.
i don’t blame you. this is all you know.
but wouldn’t you rather be someone
who isn’t full of empty promises?
let us be quick to listen.
and slow to speak.
the real secret to being the loudest voice in the room.
hold on, my friend
to what is true
but what is?
painted in the pages, I find
stories with a heartbeat. brought to life
filled with color.
wisdom resting on their faces.
i grab it- something to hold.
but before my next breath
the words slip through my fingertips as
the smoke fogs my memory
into a melody
the constant. moving. forward.
the surface- level “knowledge”
an arms reach.
she made it sound like something I wanted
until it wasn’t.
when did it become so dull?
an ever shifting world makes the magic
feel like an illusion
did I really make it all up?
i need you to stay.
please- stay here. let me fly away with you back into the painted pages.
with the stories with a heartbeat
that plant my dreams
into the soil.
and with the colors that pervade.
-mmm. the pulse of life itself.
words! don’t drift away.
hold on to them, my friend. and
step on the fire
even as you question
because I can tell you one thing.
what you once knew to be true
is still true
and what you once was sure was spoken
was, in fact, spoken
before you could even speak yourself.
I have been told I am a good listener
But the truth is, I am afraid to speak
You won’t like what I have to say
And neither will I
Because I’ve never liked the sound of my own voice
Wincing at the memory of the words I regret
I am afraid of those words
That will pour from my mouth
Like sour, spoiled milk
They will hang heavy on my tongue
Asking to be retracted
And for time to reset so I don’t embarrass myself again
And I am afraid of the faces watching
Those that will hear my words
Tumbling from my brain uncontrollably
They will scoff at the way I enunciate
And my inability to control anything
Including the things I share
But the fear isn’t the end
There is also pain
A burning sensation in my chest
That bubbles up like resentment
It pierces my eardrums
Reminding me to keep my mouth shut
And heat will rise to my face
Knowing I should have held back
I shouldn’t be so honest
I shouldn’t lie so much
That pit in my stomach never retreats
I water it and watch it grow
Why do I ever let anything out
Or anyone in
My words can’t possibly be of service
You never asked to know what I thought
But I told you too much
And I’m sorry…
Because when I speak
I will say something wrong
And I won’t be the only one in pain
Words are too powerful
And not powerful enough
Saying no never worked why would anything else
So, I must not speak
For fear and pain and love,
And keeping words locked up
Will keep them from running wild
If I only speak when spoken to
Then maybe I won’t hurt anyone else
Speak! her heart cries
Only to remain silent
With fear of rejection
Speak! her heart cries
This time louder
Only to be drowned out
By the chaos that surrounds her
Speak! Your voice matters! her heart pleads
While the mind overrules her
And silents her cry
Speak – it’s only a whisper now
Creeping past her heart’s lips
Silent and weary
Silence. All her heart can muster up is silence.
She has cried out and pleaded
Only to be left feeling depleted.
Drained and exhausted
Her heart turns away
Filled with shame
She averts her eyes to avoid the pain
“Your voice doesn’t matter”
She actually believes
While her insides twist and ache
With the passion roaring within
She hears something –
A gentle whisper
Roaring through the wind
Speak! it says
Slow and gentle
Passionate and wild
Where does this come from?
Her heart wonders
As she searches and searches
For the source of this sound
She turns around
And lifts her eyes – the eyes still filled with shame –
To see a heart just like herself
With eyes that look quite the same
How could this be? her heart cries out.
How could this heart,
Filled with the same doubt,
Cry out past the silence,
That lingers all about?
And again she hears something
Weary and weak.
Yet filled with the might
Of a million roaring lions –
Speak! it says
This time a little louder
And this time she feels
Courage all around her
She turns and sees another heart
Just like her.
Broken and bent
Yet standing tall
Amidst it all.
And beyond this heart
Bruised and beaten
From the lies rejection has spoken
And even another
Draws closer still
But still surely breathing
And all at once
They look at each other
And with tears in their eyes they cry out
Speak! For your heart is strong
Speak! For your voice matters
Speak! You are worthy of being heard
Speak! This is your chance
Speak! Don’t be afraid
Speak! What you have to say is important
Have no hold on you
Because you are strong
And this will always be true
Even when you can’t feel it
And even when every other thing tells you otherwise
Your heart is strong
And she is fighting. She is fighting.
Together, we can fight for truth.
Together, we can fight for freedom.
Her heart begins to run wild within her
Unashamed she calls out –
Speak! she says
This time with no doubt
For the wild within her
Had never been tamed
It had simply been put away
Because of what she had been told each day
And so with strength and scars
She looks past the bars
Of this prison she had locked herself into
A prison of silence
That demanded her obedience
Yet this whole time
The doors of the cage lied wide open before her
And so she walks forward
For she now knows she’s strong
And she joins the others that look just like her
That have been waiting for her all along
And together they cry
Speak! for you matter
And past the noise of this life
Their voices came bursting forth into light
You are not alone.
speak- ten thoughts.
I avoid a lot of things.
Speaking is probably towards the top of that list.
I don’t speak up. I’m easily outspoken. I get anxiety when I do have to speak.
If there’s anything I avoid, its speaking.
Majority of the time I don’t think God is speaking to me.
In clouds of frustration, I decide that I am simply deaf to His voice.
Or I just believe that He simply isn’t speaking to me at all.
I learned a lot about speaking this summer.
I spent a month in Colorado, in a beautiful valley, overlooking the mountains.
If I’m being honest, I still don’t think I heard God speak to me much.
I felt His presence but I didn’t hear His voice.
But I think He gave me a voice to speak instead.
In my fear of speaking, I don’t speak up.
I don’t confront others despite how much I’m hurting.
Except this summer, out in Colorado, I chose to speak.
I spoke up, through tears, to my intern about how someone made me feel like I wasn’t good enough at my job.
A weird feeling. A new feeling.
“Your voice matters.
Just because you’re quiet doesn’t mean that people get the right to walk over you or treat
you like you’re not doing a good enough job.
People think that because I’m quiet they can do that to me too.
But I’ve learned that it’s important for me to use my voice.
And when I choose to speak up, they listen.
Your words are important and powerful.
Being quiet can be a strength if you let it be”
My words tend to stay in my own head.
Especially my hurts.
Speaking about the things that cause doubts, hurt, frustration-
Those are saved for my counselor.
Even then, she has to pull them out of me.
I was given a voice to speak while I was out in Colorado.
I spoke through tears on more than one occasion.
I spoke about things I’d never said out loud.
I felt like a new person.
Maybe God did speak to me.
He gave me people that spoke truth into me.
He gave me people that listened.
I’m not very attentive to God’s voice.
Maybe I’ll be more aware now.
Maybe I’ll remember that how He speaks to me isn’t how He speaks to someone else.
Maybe I’ll remember that His voice isn’t one size fits all.
I think He does speak to me.
I think I just choose to ignore it.
I still don’t speak very much.
But I avoid it less.
I don’t think recognizing that my voice matters will ever get easier.
But here’s to trying
I have spoken at weddings, graduations, classrooms, and morning assemblies. But the most impactful setting that I have spoken in is at three funerals. I would mark those three days down as three of the hardest days of my life, but of course I did not pass up an opportunity to share the reasons I loved my grandmother, grandfather, and best friend. All three times, as I prepared what I was going to say, the reoccurring thought in my head was “why did I never tell them _______ before.” And there began my personal goal of speaking up. Speaking life. Speaking gratitude. I no longer want to hold back my thoughts. I do not want to be someone that waits until birthdays or funerals to tell the people around me why I love them.
When I think about how I love the way Be-Fred challenges everyone to use their voices, I want to tell her right away! When I think about how I admire the way Katie Bouchie is so quick to be vulnerable, I want to tell her right away! When I think about how Lindsay Magill is the most thoughtful person I know, I want to tell her right away! The list could go on and on.
Yet, so often, we hold back to speak encouragement or share our gratitude. What if I come off as too much? What if they begin to feel like it’s all just words? What if it is awkward? What if…. But then, I think to myself, when have I ever received affirmation or a note or a text and not smiled or felt a sense of joy. It is always worth it. It always means something.
It doesn’t have to be a ten minute speech or a five page letter. All it is the practice of speaking out the things you think. Our voices can be used for so many reasons. What if everyone chose to use their voice to speak up, to speak life into the people they love! I really think this world would be a better place. Make the phone call! Send the text! Write the card!
It’s about time I told you
those expectations- your need for shiny, beautiful, clean and better.
That’s what is doing it.
That’s what’s pulling you down.
That’s what has made you lose yourself to the deep.
It’s not your busy schedule
or your many obligations
or your countless passions.
Sure, yeah, life is a jumble and a whirl right now.
But those expectations-
Why you’re drowning.
And it’s about time I told you
You’re the only one who’s anchored yourself to them.
So it’s time to start.
Start untying myself.
Because I can’t hold my breath any longer.
I am already shiny
I am already beautiful
I am already clean
Everything is better
Because He is.
And he says I am.
Already and forever.
When I hear the word “speak”, I think of people who speak to share or inspire others. It makes me realize that everyone has a unique story full of situations, whether they’re pleasant or difficult. I’m constantly reminded that I’m not the only one who’s facing difficult challenges. Those people who have a positive attitude towards the difficult times have inspired me to do the same.