I love how one word can be so powerful with the connotations, usages and power. Then as you make these words your own, it becomes your voice—it’s unique to you. No one else has your voice.
Last year a student of mine thought he was being clever when he turned in a sonnet he had copied from the internet. I read one line of this poem, frowned, then typed the line into Google and BING! There was to poem right there in front of me. Disheartened, I wrote a zero at the top of the poem and moved on to the next one. The next day I met with this lazy student and we discussed the poem. All I had to say was “Let’s talk about your sonnet” and the guilt washed over this young man’s face, so even if I hadn’t found the poem online, his face had told me everything I needed to know.
“How did you know, Ms. C?” he asked as I returned the plagiarized copy to him.
“That’s easy,” I said simply. “It wasn’t your voice.”
My students, like every writer in the world, have unique voices. I read enough of their work, most of the time it is easy to spot plagiarism because their voices are so beautiful that when they are stifled by this crime it hurts my soul. Don’t get me wrong, my students are not always great writers—in fact, some of them are terrible (or turrable—yes, I’ve seen this spelling). BUT their voices—their voices ARE beautiful, especially when they write about something that is meaningful to them (as the sonnet assignment was meant to be).
Voice is powerful.
So if humans, made in God’s image, have the power to each wield words into individual voices (the same 26 letters mind you—and that’s only English. Considering the rest of the world, we have even more fascinating phenomenon on our hands). How much MORE powerful is God’s voice?
Psalm 29: 3-9 The voice of the LORD is over the waters; the God of glory thunders, the LORD thunders over the mighty waters. The voice of the LORD is powerful; the voice of the LORD is majestic; The voice of the LORD breaks the cedars […] The voice of the LORD strikes with flashes of lightening; the voice of the LORD shakes the desert […] The voice of the LORD twits the oaks and strips the forests bare
I learn to recognize my students’ voices by reading their writing, talking to them, and getting to know them over the course of the semester. Because students are more than just words on a page or bodies in desks.
God is more than just an all powerful being. If we want to recognize his voice we have to get to know him. Talk to him. Read his words. Get to know his people. And if we do that, his voice will strike like lightening in our lives too.