Listening to Your Inner Voice: Finding beauty when fear and shame want to take over

When I quit teaching because of my health, I wanted to stay involved with the school, so for the past five years, I have mentored a student. Once a week for about an hour, I met with a young girl over lunch. We would play board games, make crafty projects, and celebrate holidays with pizza, cookies, and small gifts. Over the years, I have mentored three different students, ranging from 2nd to 6th grade, and enjoyed the fun relationships we built.

As this school year began, though, something about continuing didn't feel right. Over the course of two weeks, I reflected and examined this inner hesitation. I prayed about it, silently pleading, Show me the way forward.

I thought about the energy it takes to commit to the program, the weekly drive in mostly winter weather, and my need to conserve my time and efforts.

Then I met with my doctors, and they reiterated their concerns about me getting sick. How the potential risk for emergency treatment would increase dramatically if I were to catch a virus or infection. I thought of all the illnesses that pass through the school's doors every day.

I realized what God and my body were trying to tell me: you need to let this go. 

With a heavy heart yet resolved courage, I texted the program coordinator with my decision. Three days later I had to drop off a check at the school from the non-profit for which I volunteer. It wasn't urgent, and I was tempted to just go home. But something in me said, Go now.

The errand only took a few minutes, but on my way out, I caught a glimpse of a former colleague walking down the hall in the distance. As the school's counselor, she helped match the mentors to the students in need. Again, an inner voice spoke up, Follow her.

I caught up with her in her office, and she welcomed me in to chat. I told her about my decision to leave the mentor program, and she was understanding and compassionate - exactly what I had expected from my generous, kind friend. We visited about our summer activities, our families, and the changes at the school. I hadn't meant to stay as long as I did, but something told me, This is time well spent.

When it was time for my friend to leave, she offered to walk out with me. As we were walking down the hall together, I spotted a student with short, blonde hair coming around the corner. It was the girl who I had mentored last year. The girl who expected me to come back. My first thought was of avoidance. I felt guilty for disappointing her and wasn't sure she would understand my reasons.

This was fear and shame trying to take control.

But then I heard a guiding voice saying, This is your chance to explain. You can be honest with her. 

I turned to face her direction. When she spotted me, she ran up, gave me a hug, and said, "I've missed you!" I returned her greeting then delivered my news.

"Unfortunately, I'm not going to be able to come back this year." Her smile faded as she asked why. I told her that it wouldn't be good for me to get sick and that the school had a lot of germs. 

She nodded and gave me worried look. "Yeah. Okay." Her words were full of empathy.

In the next breath she was telling me about her volleyball practice and where I could find her if I wanted to stop by and see her sometime during school. I assured her I would see her again and gave her a hug goodbye. She left with a smile, bouncing away towards the gym. A gentle, inner wisdom said, This was exactly where you were supposed to be in this moment. 

When faced with challenging decisions or experiences, we are often tempted to let our fears lead the way, to ignore our inner voice or Divine guidance. 

Instead we can choose honesty, trust, and love in order to reframe those encounters. We can put aside shame and guilt, embrace courage and hope, and connect ourselves to Humanity.

What is your inner voice saying? Where is it leading you?

What if you chose love over fear, honesty over shame, or hope over guilt?

Some Doorways from this week:

  • My oldest dog is seven years old, and she doesn't run as much as she used to. Last week, though, she took off in the backyard, and I smiled at her perky ears and tail that signaled her joy.
  • One of the things I love about my town is that one minute I can be driving by Costco and Target and five minutes later, on my way home, I can take a road that gives me views of hay bales on an open field under blue skies.

  • A couple of nights ago, I went to a show called We Will Rock You, a musical based on the songs of Queen. I was energized and moved by the amazing and talented performers singing many of the band's signature songs.
  • My mom and dad went camping and fishing on a nearby lake last weekend, and Mom texted me this beautiful photo of a rainbow over the water. This reminded me of the beauty that cell phones can bring.


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