Art House America: “Voices”

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I recently wrote a piece for Art House America titled “Voices.” I hear voices. I suspect you do, too. With that sneaky suspicion in mind, I thought a handful of you Rabbit Roomers might care to read the essay. Here’s an excerpt:

I have listened to inner voices for as long as my brain has had the ability to remember, recall, and, unfortunately, deliver psychological sucker punches. That is to say, for most of my life. The voices are debilitating. Most often laced with venom, despicable and cruel in all manner of punishing remarks, the voices that speak to me are old demons to whom I willingly lend an ear over and over again. The monologue is destructive and poisonous. This admission should not strike you as odd or maniacal, for I am convinced they are present in each of us. We lean in and listen, believing the voices to be true.

They are with me from the moment I awake: as I brew a pot of coffee, each time I lose patience with my kids, when I see my stubbled face in the mirror, when I peek at my bank account balance, when I scrape my knuckle working on a project, when I am unable to make eye contact with another human in my perceived inferiority, until the moment I finally lay my head on the pillow at day’s end. Sadly, they are loudest when I write, when I seek to string together words and bring something beautiful into the world.

Read the entire essay here: Voices

Profile photo of Eric Peters

Eric Peters, affectionately called "Pappy" by those who love him, is the grand old curmudgeon of the Rabbit Room. But his small stature and often quiet presence belie a giant talent. He's a songwriter of the first order, and a catalogue of great records bears witness to it. His last album, Birds of Relocation, blew minds and found its way onto “year’s best” lists all over the country. When he's not painting, trolling bookstores, or dabbling in photography, he's touring the country in support of his latest record, Far Side of the Sea.


11 Comments

  1. Debra Henderson

    Thank you so much Eric for writing this piece and sharing it with us! I’m grateful to know I’m not alone in hearing the negative “voices”especially in moments when I seek to offer “something beautiful to the world”.

    In getting ready for Hutchmoot I’ve been reading The War of Art and am learning to better identify these negative voices as resistance. Too often I allow them to feed the fear that lives within me and in that moment I allow the fear to cast out love. I’m still trying to learn how to slay rather than “nurse the beast that bathes from my blood – save me Hosanna!”

    I suppose sadly that these “voices” are remarkably generic in nature as humans are so prone to fear and battle insecurities in the same areas. I’m afraid my human nature makes me far too easy a target- like a sitting duck.

    Perhaps one of the most challenging tasks of my life is to learn to talk back to these negative voices and learn that these voices are not as I’m too often convinced…the voice of God.

    Nicole Johnson in her book “Fresh Brewed Life” says:
    “These voices keep our souls chained in the basement. They make us fearful to try anything new, anxious about what others may think of us, and they keep us on the treadmill of performance. In short, if we allow them, these voices can easily rob every ounce of enjoyment from the lives we have. Many don’t even know they are giving power to the voices, living in a state of constant self-disapproval. Understand this: these voices can immobilize us and keep us from dreaming our dreams. They can discourage us and cause us to think too small and expect too little from our lives…They make us afraid to be who we are…but only if we let them”

    I think my greatest challenge is being convinced that these voices are really the voice of God and that He is down on me, critical and harsh. Which was often the voice of my dad, but is not the voice of my Father. It’s challenging for me to believe that God speaks with grace and infinite tenderness to my fearful, insecure heart.

    “Do not fear for I am with you; do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God.
    I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand”. – Isaiah 41:10.

    Offering myself grace, compassionate love and allowing myself to receive that from God is probably the biggest battle I face these days. Somehow knowing that others are also battling in this way helps me feel less alone…and somehow disarms the power of these negative voices at least a little. “Nothing has overtaken me but such that is common to man”…guess I’m still watching for more ways of escape that He’s provided so that I can continue to stand up under it ( 1 Cor. 10:13).

    Thanks Eric!

  2. JWitmer

    Thank you Eric for sharing this. I am one who hears – and sometimes takes council from – the voices, rather than from Truth. I especially appreciated your list of the things to unlearn.

    I’ve been reading a lot of Michael Card lately, and in Scribbling in the Sand he talks of his own battle with the voices. I’m also reminded of Card’s observation that the Centurion in Luke amazed Jesus because he had faith to ask for a miracle even as he admitted that he was undeserving of a visit from Jesus.

    The Centurion had the faith to ask for MERCY – exactly the kind of faith that these voices clamor against. May the weeding and planting of your mental garden be fruitful.

  3. Dan Kulp

    Thank you Eric. That resounds on so many levels, except about the love of manicured lawns. I’ve considered pouring concrete and painting it green.

    I look forward to (hopefully) catching you on the house concert tour.

  4. Profile photo of Ron Block

    Ron Block

    @ronblock

    Eric, well, you know, when I got saved I just became happy all the time and never have any more problems. Insert favorite platitude here: _______________.

  5. Profile photo of Ron Block

    Ron Block

    @ronblock

    Ok, seriously though –

    Ol’ Screwtape can’t do a damned thing about us being saved. He can’t do anything about us being reborn, new creations. He can’t do a thing about the Blood washing away all our sins, or Christ living inside us, or that the explosive, life-changing power of the Trinity lives inside each of us in bodily form, through Christ.

    In other words, Satan doesn’t have a single weapon to wield against God’s people, the redeemed. It’s game over for him. But he refuses to fold.

    So he bluffs, huffs, and puffs. He gets out the fog machine, the mirrors, the colored lights. He tells us this, tells us that, that the only power left to him may not fail: deception. All he has left is to lie, and to twist the truth, and to attempt to keep us from knowing our place, our position, our identity, our authority.

    He still won’t win, ultimately. But he will do everything he can to keep us from receiving the rewards of a life spent faithing in the vital, living, dynamic, and indwelling power of Jesus Christ. It’s like The Silver Chair, after the Witch is killed and her kingdom began to implode: “I’ll tell you what it is,” said Puddleglum. “That Witch has laid a train of magic spells so that whenever she was killed, at that same moment her whole kingdom would fall to pieces. She’s the sort that wouldn’t so much mind dying herself is she knew that the chap who killed her was going to be burned, or buried, or drowned five minutes later.” The Enemy can’t kill us. But he can and will do his best to make sure we are as ineffective as possible; he will do his best to insure that the light of Christ, which pours through us when we trust that Life in us, is held under a bushel. Those voices we listen to are part of that deception. The sooner we define ourselves by God’s statements about Reality, the better off we are.

  6. Jason Wiedel

    Beautiful article. Having just watched The King’s Speech, my thoughts are on the insecurities that many of us feel, yet try to cover up. I think that many of us who function in any kind of public or leadership roles feel terribly inadequate at times. It is comforting to know that others here these same voices of inadequacy. It brings a strange solidarity to us.

  7. Profile photo of S. D. Smith

    S. D. Smith

    @sdsmith

    Eric Peters intimidates me by his excellent writing, but I try to ignore the voices of “you don’t measure up” that speak to me in his writing.

    OK, that’s not exactly right. Eric, you are wonderful writer and you have so much of value to say.

    Also: my best favorite singer-songwriter.

  8. Loren

    So many great reminders over the past few days: I am Christ’s, I am loved, the voices have no power unless I listen to them…. I wonder sometimes why I struggle so much with those voices of inadequacy. I was raised by wonderful, godly parents who encouraged me to use the gifts God had given me, and still continually encourage me. My husband lifts me up, my children love me (most of the time 🙂 ), God has given us so much even in a great sorrow. And yet I need that continual reminder that those voices are not from God. Thank you for another reminder!

  9. Tom Murphy

    Eric, those that God exalts, He breaks – only to heal (Psalm 51:8, Hosea 6:1-3, Col 1:24-29). Your depth of understanding of the intricacies of the inner turmoil of spiritual warfare and clarity in identifying the battle is uncommon. As all those that suffer deeply, you know the joy that accompanies such sorrow. Thanks for laying your soul bare, so that the Body may be drawn into a deeper fellowship of His sufferings with Him and with each other. You are making Christ fully known through your sufferings…Love you bud!

    [24] Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church, [25] of which I became a minister according to the stewardship from God that was given to me for you, to make the word of God fully known, [26] the mystery hidden for ages and generations but now revealed to his saints. [27] To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. [28] Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ. [29] For this I toil, struggling with all his energy that he powerfully works within me.

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