strain to hear the kinder voices

every year i make the same new years resolutions. i am really quite pathetic. i always say “okay this year i am going to work out at least 3-4 days a week,  stop eating carbs, lose 15 pounds, be more on top of my friend’s birthdays, and clean my house more regularly.”  usually within a few days of january 1st i have already found an excuse why i can’t work out,  eaten a whole bag of salt and vinegar chips, and significantly added to my mounting pile of clothes & things to put away instead of making a dent in it.  within a week i always feel like a loser.  

i have an extremely mean & cruel voice in my head, one that tells me that i always fall short, screw it up, embarrass myself, and when things go wrong it must somehow be my fault.   

jose calls it the “devil thoughts” and can’t quite understand why i listen to the voices and lean into them.   it’s not that he doesn’t have the mean voices, too.  he readily admits he does, but they are so much quieter and somehow he can manage them much better than me.  mine are so loud, relentless, accessible.   they are best at making me feel  shame, stupid, wrong.   and i act out of them more often than i’d like.   this looks like being defensive when i don’t need to be, spending inordinate amounts of time replaying moments and experiences and picking them apart, and basically becoming utterly and completely self-centered in my thoughts.

it is the biggest time-waster, life-stealer, hope-drainer i could possibly imagine.  

 i know the enemy’s job is to “steal, kill and destroy”.  he is a thief and he knows exactly how to rob me of peace.   he preys on my distorted views of the christian life like none other.  and frankly i am sick of him. but i’m not going to blame it all on him, either.   i take a lot of responsibility for leaning into the mean thoughts because i am addicted to approval & perfection.    this means that i struggle to just be.  to mess things up.  to not hit it right.  to not get the praise i want in certain stupid moments and be okay with it.   to rest in knowing i am just an average person doing the best i can.  i have wasted far too much energy in my first 40 years listening to the mean voicesso this year here’s the only thing i am going to try to focus on, a resolution of sorts for 2008:  “strain to hear the kinder voices”. 

Jesus’ voice is too quiet in my head too much of the time. 

i want to be like the sheep in john 10, they know his voice, and they listen to him.  his true voice is one that brings life, hope, conviction without shame & guilt.  when the mean voices roar, i know the spiritual discipline of “taking some of the thoughts captive”.  sure, it helps a little.  i also am thankful for safe community where i can say these things out loud and they completely understand; it definitely lessens the din.  but bottom line is i’m sick of the mean voice.  this year,  i’d love to have a little quicker & better radar that picks up the good signal first…the gentle voice, the balanced voice, the realistic voice, the good shepherd’s voice, the voice that makes me laugh at myself, the voice that reminds me to notice the joy & beauty & God’s grace in the midst.

i am pretty sure i’m not the only one who is familiar with the mean voices (please tell me i’m not!) so here’s my hope for all of us this new year. let’s strain to hear the kinder voices.  

Kathy Escobar

Kathy Escobar is dedicated to creating safe and brave spaces for transformation and healing in real life, online, and outside. She co-pastors at The Refuge, a hub for healing community, social action, and creative collaboration in North Denver, co-directs #communityheals, a non-profit organization dedicated to making spaces for transformation accessible for all, and is the author of Practicing: Changing Yourself to Change the World, Faith Shift: Finding Your Way Forward When Everything You Believe is Coming Apart and several other books.


  • Kathy ~ I agree with Jonathan. Thank you for being honest. I wrote something on the topic recently called Amazing Race.

  • for me those voices boil down to allowing fear into my head and heart. when i allow the fear of failure, the fear that everyone won’t approve of me, the fear of the unknown, the fear that something will happen to someone i love…it can rob me of the joy of today. if i instead allow his peacful voice to tell me he appoves of me, he loves me and he will be with me when the sad or hard things come…life makes more sense and i am free’er to be the person i’m meant to be.

  • me too! me too! I have all the same voices. it’s a daily battle/struggle/fight/journey to learn how to weed through them and throw away the ones that need to be trashed and hopefully keep the ones from my dear friends that tell me I’m not the big disappointment I often feel I am. How is the resolution going? Oh, also just thinking of you and all you have to do this afternoon with your friend. Hope it all went well after our meeting – which did end well and some good hugs were had by everyone!!!

  • hey jonathan, good to “see you” here!

    glenn – liked your amazing race blog & your thoughts on living out the philippians passage!

    marty – i’m with you!

    christa – oh yeah, it is a weeding process. that is why we need each other so desperately, to help in the garden! i do love our team. couldn’t ask to be with more beautiful and brave people!

    erin – here’s to “resolve”! see ya in a few weeks in pdx

  • I’ve given up beating myself up over full-out failures and missed resolutions. What I haven’t given up is trying again.

    I think of it like the Magic Slate (see here: ). I make an attempt, if it doesn’t go right I just pick up the plastic and try again. Who’s counting anyway?

    The important thing for me is to pick the right, reasonable goal (I’ve realized I can only do one at a time), and then just keep at it ’til I get there. No fair listening to devil voices during the process! No penalty for missing as long as I try again.

    So far, it works for me. You go girl – you can do it!

  • I love the simplicity of narrowing down to one resolution that impacts a lot of life.

    I am advocating doable resolutions this year (see mine at, but I like only having to remember one, so I might dump mine in favor of yours. I don’t have so much trouble with the voices as I do with laziness and memory.

    Thanks for the great inspiration.

  • thanks for sharing your heart. and for helping me feel like i’m not the only crazy person in this world. i love that we can be crazy together.
    your heart is so close to mine.

  • hey susan, good to hear from you. i love the magic slate image. i used to love those things as a kid and it is a good metaphor! see ya soon

    randy, yeah, we all have our things that are bigger for each of us…i will check out your resolutions. we are going to be in reno toward the end of march so hopefully we can get together!

    bryan, thanks for stopping by!

    steph, being crazy together is so much better than being crazy alone.

  • Hey Kathy I agree it is a struggle to keep the noise out of our heads. Hearing lies and bad thoughts from the enemy is a daily battle. To live in joy and peace is a challenge. How wonderful it is in those moments when the truth of God’s love comes to us through a song, a word, a message, or a voice of a friend. It is way cool when the holy spirit speaks to us when we are in prayer. Sometimes it is right out frustrating when we hear nothing. It is then at those times notes to ourself from journal writing or the word of God sets us free. Our thoughts are the hardest thing to tackle in our daily walk with Christ. I am with you on this and I pray that the Holy Spirit just floods our minds with truth. Love you Lis

  • Come stay with us, Kathy! We have a guest room all ready for you! At least have dinner with us…we’ll be crushed if we don’t get to see you while you’re in our sinful little city!


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