From the moment I found out there were two of you growing inside of me, I started to wonder and dream about all the things you would be. What you would look like, what things would you love, how this world would shape you. And sometimes, as I sat and waited for you to make your arrival, your Papa Ray would say, “I wonder what their voices are going to sound like.” I could tell that he too wondered about more than just that, but it was the thing he truly couldn’t wait to hear.
It was amazing how quickly your voice became your own.
You were probably only days old the first time I could tell which one of you was crying without having to see who it was. When other babies joined us, I instantly knew if it was one of mine that needed me. Your distinct babbles and laughs, and your heartfelt cries instantly became a part of my inner most being.
The first time you spoke you didn’t hold back.
You didn’t hold back or think or question. The innocence of those first words will always ring beauty in my ears. From that day forward, I hoped and prayed that we would help you use your voices in the best ways possible. Without stifling who you are, but teaching you that words matter. Forever the reminder in my head to pass to you the wise words of Mother Teresa, “Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless.”
And with all of that, you made me wonder if my voice was something that needed to be heard. Did I question enough things for you? Did I speak the truth? Did my lips show compassion and kindness? Did my words attempt to build up community or was I tearing down bridges? Do I speak up? Does someone know my voice right away? Do I listen instead of speaking like I should? Do I use nice words even when I don’t want to? You make me question the ways in which I use my voice in all the best ways.
In a world full of noise, sometimes it may seem impossible to even hear your own voice. But, let this be a small reminder that you have a voice that is different from anyone else’s. It sounds different, its inflections and tone don’t sync to another soul. But your voice — it’s a voice that needs to be heard. Your ideas, your thoughts, your feelings –- your voice is how you get that all out into the world. It’s a powerful tool with more weight than you realize now.
I hope you use your voice to better this world in ways only you can. I hope you use it to find friendships in the unlikeliest of places or to speak truth where there is none to find. I hope you use your voice to help people in need. I hope you find that sometimes you don’t need to use your voice at all. I hope you find bravery in your voice when it’s a little scared. Let it be loud and full of laughter and let it be full of purpose. Use your voice for each other when you find the other can’t seem to speak. Sing instead of speaking. Voice the things that make you cry or make you angry or the things that give you hope. But most importantly, I hope that every day you keep changing and searching for the voice you want it to be.