The Voice of the Crow
(No, that that Crowe.) My home ward, the ward of my youth, is the same ward that poet, actress, and author Carol Lynn Pearson belongs to. She wrote the script and directed our “cast” for the roadshow I participated in as a young woman. Too many years have passed for me to remember what it was about, and being on stage was definitely not comfortable for me, so I have blocked out some details. What I do remember, though, is Carol Lynn’s insistence that we each have a presence on the stage. No matter how small our part, how many lines we had, or acting experience (or lack thereof), she firmly coached us through our roles and lines.
A few of us who participated in that event had a chance to visit with Carol Lynn earlier this year. One of the girls played the role of a crow. She was terribly shy back then, and hated being on stage. She told Carol Lynn, “I remember you standing at the back of the cultural hall telling me, ‘I need to hear you all the way back here! Caw! Caw!’ You made me practice that over and over until you said you could finally hear me.” She paused, reflecting, then said, “I still remember that today. There are times it’s been hard for me to speak up, but you gave me courage back do that.
Carol Lynn wisely said, “Oh! You needed to find your voice! Have you kept it? Do you use your voice? Do you still speak up?”
Find and Use Your Voice
I have pondered many times about that counsel since then. I have never had a problem speaking up; sometimes my issue is more that I don’t always strike the right tone and come off being strident and judgmental rather than strong and courageous.
President Hinckley said, “Let our voices be heard. I hope they will not be shrill voices, but I hope we shall speak with such conviction that those to whom we speak shall know of the strength of our feeling and the sincerity of our effort.” (Gordon B. Hinckley, “Opposing Evil,” October 1975 General Conference.)
It takes courage to speak up. But before courage, we must know what our message is, and what to say. Memorizing the simple sounds the crows made in our roadshow wasn’t the issue for my friend. What she needed was coaching on how to be that crow so that her message and lines could be heard by the audience.
Once you know who you are and whose side you are on (“I am a divine daughter of Heavenly Parents who love me! My worth and value on this earth are incomparable, and I have a mission to fulfill! I stand on the side of the Lord!”), your message and how and when to deliver it will become clear. Not all audiences will be in a cultural hall, nor will you always be on stage. Your message may only be needed one audience member at a time – to a child, a friend, a spouse. Or perhaps you will find that voice to participate and contribute to Sunday lessons whereas now you find it easier to sit silent in the back row (which could sometimes be the title of my autobiography!).
Sometimes the message you will deliver will be one you discover as you speak up. You may not even know you know the things you do until you open your mouth and speak. But make no mistake, your voice matters, and what you have to say matters.
A Word of Caution
Speaking up is good, as long as we do it with pure motives borne solely of love and compassion, and as directed by the Heavens.
President Hinckley clarifies: “As we recognize our place and our goal, we cannot become arrogant. We cannot become self-righteous. We cannot become smug or egotistical. We must reach out to all mankind. They are all sons and daughters of God our Eternal Father, and He will hold us accountable for what we do concerning them. May our faith shine forth as the sunlight of the morning. May He smile with favor upon us. And as we go forward, may we bless humanity with an outreach to all, lifting those who are downtrodden and oppressed, feeding and clothing the hungry and the needy, extending love and neighborliness to those about us who may not be part of this Church.” (Gordon B. Hinckley, “Living in the Fulness of Times,” October 2001 General Conference.)
So what does it mean to speak up? To use your voice? Neill F. Marriott from the General Young Women’s presidency says, “The Lord’s Church needs Spirit-directed women who use their unique gifts to nurture, to speak up, and to defend gospel truth. Our inspiration and intuition are necessary parts of building the kingdom of God, which really means doing our part to bring salvation to God’s children.” (“What Shall We Do?” Neill F. Marriott, April 2016 General Conference.)
You, with your voice, gifts, talents, and abilities are needed. Yes, YOU. You have something to contribute. Your space is in front of you; do you use it? Do you fill that space with your voice?
The world needs YOUR voice; your perspective. Never, ever, ever, say that there’s not a need for what you have to offer. That’s ridiculous and offensive. There’s not anything out there for the world (your world and the world) does what you can, says things in the way you, or nurtures the way that you do.