Sometimes James Dobson is not the voice you should listen to.

Good Shepherd

It came across my screen again this morning, “My sheep know my voice.” I’ve meditated on this verse off and on for precisely 15 years since a church that I loved split because the pastor had an affair. My college roommate whispered this to me from the Word as we reeled, discussed, and sought direction. It was the beginning of a certain pruning that remains to this day. Who am I listening to?

It’s a question I had to answer in the days that followed 15 years ago, in the midst of planning a wedding and looking toward becoming one with another. And I got it wrong. I’m not going to go into all the details here just yet. Someday. But what it all boiled down to was this: I thought the voice in my head was Jesus, but it was religion. And I heeded that religious voice instead of the Good Shepherd. How do I know it was not Him? Because it smacked of control, it said in control was my security, and it spoke out of fear. Of course then, I didn’t realize I was listening to lies wrapped in coping mechanisms from years of unresolved trust issues. {Add in a touch of legalism and voila, loud friggin’ religious bondage voice.} But the Marijoy that you saw, the smiley, light, trying so hard to get it right girl, was a huge knot of crazy internal confusion that raged with the question, “how am I getting everything wrong when it’s supposed to be so right?!”

{Let’s just say this was not the ideal road to marital bliss. And still, he took me. Bolstered by the generosity and grace of our God, our family, and our friends we entered our union with a humble, earnest love that remains to this day.}


It took a few years for me to recognize that the voices that were often the loudest, were not necessarily good. For example, a marriage isn’t just successful because you practice appropriate gender roles. Intimacy, as in knowing and being known in a relationship, doesn’t have to look like what many marriage books or counselors say it does. Add kids, whoa Nelly. Could there be more voices telling you how to raise your kids? It’s too. much. You can pretty much guarantee that if the voice you listen to makes you feel like a failure, you’re listening to the wrong one.

Every day I must practice tuning in to my deepest longings and the undeniable peace I find in my heart when I weed out the voices of shame, condemnation, insecurity, pride, and people pleasing.

And sometimes I can hear it, the quiet, sure, overwhelmingly warm voice of my Shepherd.

Because while some people can be really well-intentioned, biblical, quite valid in some contexts, have written a slew of books, and perhaps  have their own radio talk show, it doesn’t mean they really know a lick about the fingerprint of you, the people in your life, or the specific purpose God asks you to embrace.

Which is why I melt when I consider that my Good Shepherd, the One who delights in me, who lowered Himself to raise my chin, who fashioned my heart, dreams, idiosyncrasies, made it so that I am permanently synced up with Him. That I can know His thoughts. Know the heart and voice of Jesus. Seriously.

Those who are spiritual can evaluate all things, but they themselves cannot be evaluated by others. For,

“Who can know the Lord’s thoughts?

Who knows enough to teach him?”

But we understand these things, for we have the mind of Christ.  1 Corinthians 2:15-16

He doesn’t just save our lives from hell. He moves in. He doesn’t say in a booming voice, “I am God, fear me, and do my bidding! That means look like a tidy, middle class, debt free, happy couple that goes to church every week and has clean, well-behaved children.” Is that all I’m living for? I mean, come on. No. No!

Instead, Jesus, He knocks. I open the door, somehow it’s like I always knew Him. He says, “Mj, I want to do this life thing with you. It means you begin anew, as radiant, honored, chosen. I’m going to put my Spirit in you, making you fully alive, free, capable. I will speak, because I love you. If you listen, you will hear which way to go. Do you want to hear? I’m not saying it will be easy, actually it may be really hard. But I won’t leave you. Ever. And in the end, well, just wait. It will blow your mind. Do you want to be all you desire, all I made you to be? What do you say?”

Yes. Yes!

So I listen, and I wait. I follow, and I let go of all I thought was the “right way.” Turns out, there are several ways I can go, and every single one of them Jesus holds my hand.

I know His voice. And I am definitely learning what is NOT His voice. This morning when I read it “..they follow him because they know his voice…” I finally made the connection. Jesus said this as an illustration to his disciples in John 10:4. That’s 6 verses before one of my favorites, John 10:10, “I came that they may have life and have it to the full.” There is no life to the full without knowing His voice. You can be sure of this, you will know it when you hear it.

Are you listening?

painting credit: Matthew Rosebrock, The Good Shepherd 2009 (36″ x 48″, oil on canvas)


3 thoughts on “Sometimes James Dobson is not the voice you should listen to.

  1. Marijoy, I was so touched by the words of wisdom and truth and honesty in your blog. Beautiful, girl. Keep on walking. I knew you mostly as a pretty little quiet redheaded girl. Your Mom and I had a friendship that was forged in honesty and prayer. I know she is so proud of the person you have become and are becoming.
    Kay Bateman

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