There are voices I hear. I have heard them since I was twelve years old. It was always at night. He told me wretched things. I laid trembling, with covers raised over my head. Lest, I peek for a second and open myself to a full attack. Quickly, I would turn on the light in the hallway, with hope that the radiance of the light would serve as defense against this violent assail. I placed a Bible under my pillow. So, when sleep finally came the voice wouldn’t terrorize me in my dreams.
Disturbing isn’t it? If there was room for mental health in Nigerian culture, I would have been diagnosed. Night and sleep became fearful. I laid wide awake hiding in view of my aggressor. Knowing, insomnia was my sole defense. This voice was not my own, but another’s. The owner of that voice was evil. His malfeasance was deep, for there was no good in him. His demented affliction was malicious and vile. His voice preyed on my adolescent insecurity and romanced it. Quickly the two became one, sharing features: my voice with his words.
His voice softened, but his message endured. I stopped being scared and listened. My voice made the message sound like mine. The words sounded too familiar to be questioned as lies. They were true. They had to be true, because it was me saying these evil things to myself. I followed that voice and its messages all through out middle school and adolescence. The message? “You are not ___________.” Fill in the blank: beautiful, smart, friendly, skinny, funny, good, desirable, clean, lovely, wanted, needed. Like an addict, the voice knew that with each and every message, it needed to steadily increase my dosage for the same high of misery. “You are unworthy. You are unloved. You are bad, there is nothing good in you.” The messages increased to fearful levels. “Why are you even here? No one wants you. No one loves you. No one will ever love you.” As I type, my soul quivers at the familiarity of this feeling. I remember my response to these thoughts. I was dark. There was no joy in me. The voice was not separate from me. It was me. My identity was in the darkness I felt, and it clearly displayed itself in my actions.
For five years I was guided by this voice in all of its rage-filled melancholy. It was not until college, I began to address this voice. Simultaneously, I was introduced to another voice. His Voice was nothing like mine. It was authoritative and gentle. It was the voice an outdoors man who tries to free a frantic animal from its trap. His Voice was (and is) comforting, safe, and dominating. As this Voice spoke to me often the demented monster of my voice would scream louder, attempting to drown out His. There is something about His Voice. Even in the cacophony of chaotic clamor, His Voice is beautiful. It is the C major to my D minor. The more I heard His, the less I heard mine. I fell in love with His Voice. I followed His Voice.
Soon divorce papers were filed, and I got my voice back. As, I looked at the abusive refrain I sang to myself, the true nature of the voice in the night returned with a new message. “Do you really think your voice can sing with His? Do you really think your voice can even sing His song?” Like an badgered woman returning to her abuser, I listened. For this voice knew there were two ways he could control me. I could sing with him, or I could not sing at all. I was silent. I was scared if I sang His Voice, the voice in the night would heckle me.
But His Voice comforted me. Oft in my weakness, during the night, I’d feel His Hand on my cheek. His Hand would graze toward my chin and lift my face to His. He is breathtaking in may ways, but as I marveled at Him, I could not elude the sureness of His Voice. This sureness was rooted in the truth of His Words. I could trust His Words; I could trust His Voice.
I sang with His Voice. However, the voice in the night still comments. “Do you think you are really pleasing to God?” In the moments when my voice sounds discordant. He says, “Has God really forgiven you?” Sometimes, I stop singing trying to respond back to the voice in the night. However, His Voice has taught me that His Song is my response to the voice in the night’s accusations. So, in all my feeble predilection, I continue singing His Song, and the wretched voice in the night cowers back into the corner and dissolves into the night. As my head rests tranquilly in His Hand, and He sings His Song over me.