While I have long loved the music in the Disney classic Aladdin, there wasn’t a song in it that touched my heart the way “Speechless” in the new live-action version does. In this song, Princess Jasmine vulnerably shares the deep pain she has experienced because she lives in a world that tries to keep her quiet and small. Though she is qualified and passionate about leading the people of her country, a woman cannot hold the office of the sultan. Therefore, her ideas and dreams are shut down and tuned out.

Jasmine faces a difficult choice. Please the opposition, which includes her father, so that they are satisfied with her silence and back off. Or follow the fire that burns inside her, step out, and use her voice to make a positive impact in the world.  I’m not a princess, and I spend no time considering how I would lead a country, and yet more than once I have listened to the beautiful voice of Naomi Scott singing these words and felt the tears welling up in my eyes. Because I can so relate.

I’m working right now on a message I will deliver to a group of teenage girls on a retreat over Labor Day weekend. The talk is about how God designed us as unique creatures, and a relationship with Him can help us realize and be confident in the way He created us. As often happens when I’m putting together something to share with others, I realize that I have more to learn on the topic I’ve been given than anyone who will hear me speak.

Because for me, accepting the way God designed me has been challenging. For years, I have seemed to be “too much” for some people. When met with their disapproval, I often felt like I was wrong in my thoughts or actions, and I would work to shrink back or minimize my presence.  But as my relationship with God has deepened, I am learning that I’m not wrong. (Ok, I’m wrong sometimes, but I’m not wrong simply because I expressed an opinion, you know?)

I am created by God to be someone who speaks. God stirs my heart to encourage growth and change. To be a catalyst for transformation. To make a positive impact. To say the things that are left unsaid. To speak truth. To question authority when it is legalistic and bullying. To raise my voice for the voiceless. This is who I am. This is how He created me to be.

It’s scary sometimes – being wired this way. Too often I get caught up in “what might happen if I say that” instead of leaning into the familiar stirring of the Holy Spirit. Sometimes I wait too long and miss the opportunity presented. Sometimes it hurts when the response feels more like a personal attack and less like a healthy dialogue between adults.

But I am deciding one situation at a time to lend my voice when I am led to do so. To share my thoughts and experiences in the hope that what God is teaching me might benefit someone else as well. God designed me, and God designed you. He did so with intentionality and reason. Let’s all take steps towards being the best version of God’s design we can possibly be. I’ll do me. And you do you. And together, we will be exactly what the world needs.

I won’t be speechless. Thank you, Jasmine.

Peace.