About the Author

Bonnie Gray is the author of Sweet Like Jasmine, Whispers of Rest, wife, and mom to two boys. An inspirational speaker featured by Relevant Magazine and Christianity Today, she’s guided thousands to detox stress and experience God’s love through soul care, encouragement, and prayer. She loves refreshing your soul at...

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  1. Bonnie,
    There were so many things you said in this post I absolutely loved!
    “Whatever season in life you’re entering into, God is speaking through your story.
    Speak.
    You are safe because you belong to me.
    Step out and keep living your story.”

    I’ve been hearing most of these words recently and honestly. It’s scary but ‘OK’ at the same time. After surviving the day I gave my testimony at church a few weeks ago so many people-men, women, younger and older than myself- have come to me and thanked me for being so brave and courageous to get up and tell THEIR story for them! Its not theirs?! Its mine! But God has worked hard on me the last 4 years to let me know I am not alone in this boat I am in. I am not alone in the life I used to live or the childhood I had, I am surrounded by people who understand me and want to know they also are not alone! So many people said to me that God was using my story to help others. Of course I can’t see that my story will help anyone but he is trying to show me all the time. What is so uncomfortable to me is that people now ‘know’ me or recognize me in our church. They come up to me and are still thanking me for sharing about me. I don’t like that. I don’t like to be singled out in a crowd. I don’t like to be recognized. I am most comfortable blending in with the wall and watching others. I don’t want to be watched. I don’t know what to say to these people when they approach me. All I can say is thank you or you’re welcome. I don’t even know if that is appropriate. I know God is up to something and I am just doing what he is telling me. That is the only reason I would have ever agreed to give my testimony. I just wish I could figure out how to handle the feelings I have after.

    • Moses said to the Lord, “O Lord, I have never been eloquent, neither in the past nor since you have spoken to your servant. I am slow of speech and tongue.”. The Lord said to him, “who gave man his mouth? Who makes him deaf or mute? Who gives him sight or makes him blind? Is it not I, the Lord? Now go; I will help you speak and will teach you what to say.”. –Exodus 4:10-12

      I’m in the same boat. I like big churches so I only need to be known in small circles, and can pop in and out unnoticed. I feel completely tongue-tied when I have to speak to someone without first expecting it or planning what I’m going to say.

      This passage from Exodus gives me hope, however. If someone like Moses had similar difficulties, I should be able to handle whatever God has planned for me, as well. God wouldn’t ask us to act if he didn’t know we are up for the task– we just need to let him show us what he expects from us. I hope this helps you, as well.

  2. God knows me! That’s what I sensed today when reading your post. Just last night with tears streaming down my face, I was at a low about how God uses my voice and just how exposing it feels to me. Your post is like God saying to me….”keep writing, yes it’s exposing, and it has to be. See I want people to be drawn unto Me, not you. So when you write or use your voice to speak to others about Me, they may see you at first but shortly they see Me. Just what I want. So just go. Let your soul keep following Me. It knows where I want you to go. Trust Me. You really are safe. Come on, my daughter.”

    So thank you Faith for being willing to share your voice so I can continue to find mine. Good chatting with you.

  3. Bonnie,
    this was so rich. I am stumbling my way through finding my voice lately, and I feel a little lost and frustrated some days, I am trusting that God will lead m ethrough… and show me how to speak as he made me, in a way that glorifies Him. (and I too LOVE my digital camera!) Sometimes, I feel like my photos are my voice…. blessings, sweet friend!

  4. Bonnie,
    This message is one of the many blessings I have been receiving recently in my difficult walk to opening my voice up (more than I thought I ever would have to!) God is truly breaking my heart open. I am now understanding no limits/no boundaries. As someone who used to suffer from depression, my voice was very silent and very hidden. I’m so excited for the new transparency that I’m finding in my writing, speaking, and performing. Who else but God?

  5. i’ve been hearing the voices these last few weeks and i stopped writing. “you’re too sentimental.” “you’re too serious.” i hear them quietly whisper. i hear them loudly shout. i hear them telling me i’m not good enough. that it doesn’t matter. that i should quit.

    and though i can still feel God tugging at my heart, i can’t bring myself to write the words.

    thanks for your post. thanks for reminding me that i’m not alone. thanks for reminding me to step out-because He is there-and to trust Him to use me.

    • I echo that! As I’ve embarked on a new writing journey and have felt it on my heart to step out in faith, the voices have been louder than ever. They make me self-conscious, doubtful, and fearful. And, ultimately, quiet. But I know that those voices are not of God because they speak nothing of love, kindness, grace, or encouragement. When I think about what He would have me do, I find myself back where I started- knowing I need to write for young women navigating relationships.
      Thank you for this word today- God is SO GOOD!!!
      And Colleen- you’re not alone! Phew!
      Time to write! 🙂

  6. LOVE this Bonnie! Sharing my story is how God is speaking. Sharing it with myself and others. Sharing my heart and being real. “Darkness and light over time will bring out the beauty of your life.”

  7. Finding the words to write my first book is how God is encouraging me through your post. I have been hesitant to give voice to my thoughts. A great deal of those nagging voices coming up to discourage me. Snapshots of the real me is kind of what this book us about. A memoir\book on intimacy between a woman and God. I loved the part of your post that said Darkness and light….step out and keep living your story. Definitely gonna put words on a page today.

  8. My hesitation to speak freely of our likes and dislikes is that it can create division. Though we may not be judging others when we write, the other person reading may feel judged and therefor we may be creating a stumbling block for them to hear Christ through us. I”m not saying we can’t have a time and place to say these things…but I’m just finding in my personal life that keeping my “doings and not doings” to myself is keeping my heart more peaceful. I”m finding I’m in a season of silence when it comes to lifestyle choices so that I can hear the Holy Spirit leading me through Romans 14 and choosing to simply LOVE people with all their choices, quirkiness and variety, and to choose Grace over preferences (Grace Based Parenting) I don’t like to be silent so it isn’t easy for me…balance is always good. Now simply telling your story without standing on a soapbox to me is different. Just adding that maybe for some God’s calling us into silence for a season and maybe for others God is calling them to speak. We all must seek the Holy Spirit inside us for which season we are in. Good article, makes me think!!!

    • And yes I KNOW you can’t please everyone and keep everyone from feeling judged…and that’s not the point in life. Just telling a tad of my current story here I guess ;0) Oh the irony ;0)

      • Love this, Steph. I loved what Bonnie shared as I have been so talkative in life, and always felt God was calling me (since I was around four years old!) to write a book. Now at age 45 I am starting!!! So, I needed the season to come when I felt Him saying, “now.” But, also, as you so aptly shared, there are seasons for the discipline of silence. For me, being talkative, I need to pull in and allow God to find me in the quiet when I make that quiet available by choosing it over words. I have learned that discipline in the past 10 years. I even have days wherein I “fast” from words. I speak the least amount of words possible (really, that only involves answering my children or saying a short word to them if they need it). They barely notice when I fast from words because I interact with them richly in non-verbal contact and smiles and listening! My husband is always “in” on the fast so he knows I’m not giving him the silent treatment {wink} and these days of silence are such a blessing because I cultivate thinking before I speak and turning my thoughts to God instead of just talking out loud without pausing inwardly first. Thanks for sharing this counterbalance to the encouragement, “Speak.” Both are so needed: timely words and silence.

  9. I am so thankful for this post today I can’t even tell you. I have been having some emotional ups and downs lately because of this very thing. Knowing that God is at work in me, beginning to understand what it really means to have Jesus living in me, to be clothed with Him, but being afraid of what that might look like. One minute I’m ready to go and the next I’m believing the lie that He can’t really do anything with me. I so want to hear only His voice and just be whoever it is He created me to be without being afraid of the critic. Ugh, my thoughts are so jumbled but that is where my head is right now! Thanks for reminding me to listen to the truth. Thanks for speaking truth.

  10. My “Voice” had been criticized most of my life. This caused me to turn it off. Shut it down. Over the last ten years or so God has been upgrading my “Voice”. I think it sounds more like Him now. I’ve even ventured into letting others hear it on the written page. The criticism comes mostly from inside myself now. It causes me to want to continue to turn off and shut down. However, my Father, encourages me to keep speaking. He likes to hear my voice.

  11. Great post!

    I grew up in a family where everyone has an opinion and the ext person has an opinion about your opinion and it goes on…because of this, somewhere long the way, Ijust shut up … not wanting to have people judge and what I say. And in the process, i think I lost my thoughts as well… because there are times that I would literally just stare at the person Im talking to because I find I have nothing to say.

    How do I get my voice back? …

    “Jesus invites us to do otherwise. Jesus whispers –

    Speak.
    You are safe because you belong to me.”

    Thanks for this… i’ll try to keep this in mind

  12. This is such great encouragement! Whenever I keep what I think others want to hear in mind, it does stifle my writing and I sit in from of my blog hitting the delete key over and over. It’s when I listen to what God is telling me each day that I find the words to write and that I really love what I’m doing, deep in my heart.

  13. Your words are truly like a breath of fresh air, helping me to breath deeper. I so much appreciate your encouragement, sweet Bonnie.

    I’m not sure what journey I’m on right now. It’s more about conquering some fears and it involves some quieter reflections; at least for the moment. Yet, I have just gotten a new camera and I am feeling excitement in capturing what I feel in my heart, having first found more comfort in the words than behind the lens. I’m excited to see what *develops*–literally and figuratively.

  14. It is so difficult to let oneself become vulnerable to others, especially online where you may not know everyone who “sees” into your soul. Yet this is what community is! God designed us to live in true community where we can be vulnerable with each other in order to love each other as God loves us.

  15. Bonnie, I LOVE when you bare your soul!…It’s so true that when you’re honest in the good and in the bad, you open a door for your readers to be honest too.

  16. My voice lately has been paint on canvas… I have been moved to paint Christian songs and how God has used their message for me to give voice to my testimonies… Because each one has been either a learning .. A stretching.. or encouraging piece of work… But like you God has been working on my hiding… I loved your words so much today thank you … Peace be with you… Te!

  17. Thank you for your words, Bonnie. I have been weighed down by the need to make a major life decision and feeling like I’m walking into a stone wall and can’t find the way over it. And this has shut down my voice. I have found myself unable to look people in the eye, to speak with them honestly or even to listen to them well. I find it very difficult to be open with others when I feel like I don’t have my life all together. When I don’t have the answers. I have also found it difficult to pray – I feel like I come to God with my eyes cast down, too scared to look in His face and to hear that I have made the wrong decision and am no longer valuable for His service. And it is all rooted in the fact that I am living my life for others right now – not for Him.
    The phrase: “Don’t throw away the parts of yourself that don’t appear to carry much use” whispers to me of healing, while bringing real conviction to my heart. I have been adding the tag “for others” onto the end of that phrase for too long. But Jesus tells us what the greatest commandments are in a specific order – love God THEN love others. When that order is inverted, it becomes impossible to live free.
    My voice is feeling atrophied right now. I’m not sure how to begin speaking again – but I think that this is the beginning.

  18. I couldn’t resist leaving a comment of sincere thanks. This was for me (and I am sure for others) because I have been intensely struggling with this the last couple of days. I’ve started writing my first book and it has been such a long time coming. I’ve struggled through insecurity and getting to the place that I was ready to write openly and honestly about my book’s topic, but over the course of the last couple of days I have felt discouraged. This was just what I needed to hear so thanks for being obedient to write this because this child needed a boost towards living in the grace of goodness of who my Father created me to be and the beautiful (although cracking) voice that He has given me.

  19. Wonderful words of encouragement…

    Just this morning I was told something very unpleasant. However, it didn’t penetrate my heart, I kept right on moving. Your mention of 1 Corinthians 4: 3-4 was right on time.

    Veiled in silence our voices are never heard, our testimonies are never shared, our life and the lives of others go unchanged. Give your voice flight and watch it soar…

  20. This was heaven sent and such good timing for some questions that have been on my heart. Thank you so much! Just perfect.

  21. All of us who write, should do so bravely because you don’t know who needs to hear your words that are inspired by God to pull them up and out of a pit or just offer general encouragement or bonding. So write because someone out there needs you. I discovered something wonderful when all you ladies went on your retreat. For so long I have been a loner. My childhood was spent growing up very abused by various members of my immediate family. They are still that way but now can only verbally abuse me. I didn’t know what love was like, either, since I never experienced it from the place where I should have…my family. So I had no idea what it was like to have a real family like I see others have. Until one day…when I saw a picture of all of you on the beach and God said to me, “These are your sisters.” I burst into tears. Just a picture of all of you reached into my heart and for the first time I knew I belonged to a much bigger and more loving Family. You have no idea what an impact that made. And all the wonderful words that are spoken from everyone is like water to a very parched soul.
    So don’t hesitate to speak because your words can be the one thing someone out there desperately needs to hear.

  22. Thank you for this…sharing with others…what we experience can help others. We need to remember to do it with 1 Peter 3:15 in mind…with respect and reverance….

  23. Thanks for this Bonnie. I actually stopped my blog because I thought ‘who do you think you are, thinking that people will want to read what you have written?’ Maybe I’ll have the courage to start it again..

  24. “Darkness and light over time will bring out the beauty in your life.”
    There is a lot for me to ponder in that one sentence. Thank you….

  25. I just went through this last night after I posted. I talked with David about it. The self-questioning and self-doubt. I left everything just the way it was. I’m so glad you wrote this Bonnie. I needed to read this. Especially, stepping out in faith to write for 31 days and where we are right now.

    Thank you, thank you, thank you…..

  26. “Something beautiful is emerging.
    It’s Christ in you.”
    Wow, Bonnie, I so desire to honor this! To be Christ to others. To reflect His glory in how I live my life, being obedient to His calling and the gifts he’s given me. We are all His individual letters (2Cor2-3). I long to be one that honors His name!
    Thank you again for another fresh perspective!

  27. This was just exactly what I needed to hear today Bonnie. Thank you for using your beautiful voice to encourage and bless.

  28. In my job, I design web-based courses. I feel called to use this skill for evangelization or religious instruction. I’ve done some experiments, but have not yet settled on a direction or even audience. Yet, I think this is an area in which I can use my voice. I am in prayer for clarity of direction.

  29. Sorry to comment again, but this post matches with this idea of being true and letting him recycle our experiences to touch and reach out to others through writing, speaking. . whatever He has led us to. . .
    http://www.heseesme.wordpress.com and the title is “BURN AND SHINE” from October 8,2011.
    Just to encourage. We can all use encouragement.
    Thank you.

  30. Thanks, Bonnie! I feel like I just received some freedom through your words. When my writing waxes and wanes, I tend to automatically go to that place of “what’s wrong with me?! my writing sucks!” It’s encouraging to hear the truth spoken from someone else’s heart 🙂 Thank you!

  31. Thank you for sharing this. That self-critical voice is a hindrance for me, too. It helped me that you compared it to digital photography, since that is the medium in which I feel most free to play and make mistakes (no one has to know, and as you say, there are bound to be 1 or 2 good shots in a gazillion). Writing a draft or brainstorming on paper helps to free me up, somehow, since it seems less “official.”

    Thank you so much for your welcoming words to me about joining the faith jam last week. I think my post today will work with your theme tomorrow, too.

    You are such an encourager! May God pour hope and encouragement back into your soul when you most need it.

  32. This wonderful post sent to me thru InCourage was incredibly timely! I leave Monday to attend the Southwest Christian Writer’s Studio to educate, empower and encourage myself to begin a career in freelance Christian writing.

    I will read and re-read this as I explore my way with God through the next week, and beyond. Thank you for speaking thoughts and fears I hadn’t even put voice to yet.