What does God’s voice sound like?

As many of you know, two weeks ago I made the bittersweet announcement that I was choosing to close my successful business, Flourish Boutique.  In the statement I released, I mentioned how I felt the Lord was calling me on to a different path.  While He called me to open the store, He also called me to close it eight years later.  That announcement post on Facebook went viral, and I received countless calls, emails, comments, and messages from all of you.  The level of love and support we received following our announcement was completely unexpected and touched our family more than you can imagine.  One common theme to the feedback we received both online and in person, was the appreciation for my willingness to openly recognize that my decisions were faith based and my decision to share my testimony publicly.

More specifically, I have had many people ask how I knew what God’s call was or what His voice sounded like.  What a great question.  It makes sense that so many people wondered this…I mean if God’s voice was as easy to hear as a song on the radio or a voicemail in our inbox we would all be leading the most fulfilling and directed lives imaginable, right?!  Of course though, it’s not that easy or distinct and it was a long and painful process for me to determine that closing Flourish was indeed God’s call for me.

Owning Flourish Boutique, was my lifelong dream realized.  It was never about making a lot of money, working a nine to five job, or even the glitz and glamour of pursuing a career in fashion.  As an artist, Flourish was my masterpiece.  The inspiration bubbled up from within, the call to share my ideas with the world felt pressing, and everything from the light fixtures to the clothes we carried were a form of self expression.  The love, time, and energy that went into developing everything from the mission statement, the team of women that worked at Flourish, each season’s collection, the music we played, the displays, the marketing, etc came from deep within me.  And, to say I worked tirelessly to build Flourish is an understatement.  It was the baby I stayed up nights with, my masterpiece that I toiled with, and my God given vocation to pursue.  So about a year ago, when I started to feel and see God’s pull in a new direction, I did not easily acquiesce.

How did I hear God’s voice then, especially when He was not saying what I was expecting to hear?  God’s voice is not one dimensional.  It is not a voice like ours.  God’s voice is a current, which tugs and pulls your life in a direction.  It manifests itself in various ways:  for me it was the opening and closing of doors, major life events, reoccurring themes in songs and Church sermons, threads of conversations with friends and family, and eventually a deep “knowing” inside my soul.   When we don’t necessarily want to recognize that voice or further to obey it, our instinct can be to fight the current.  As a business owner who scrapped and fought to make my boutique survive the recession and prosper thereafter, my instincts to protect my store were strong.  For over a year, I swam against the current: determined I could do it all and determined to stay “true” to my original plans. But that’s the thing about currents: they’re strong and attempts to fight them eventually leave you tired and in danger.  God knows the plans he has for us…plans to prosper us and to give us a future, the bible says.  For me, letting go, and swimming with the current meant putting all my faith in Him and His knowledge for my future.

Gods voice

So many people “congratulated” me as they heard my announcement.  And, don’t worry, if that was you, I’m not upset or hurt by your words.  But, I definitely found it ironic.  Yes, my store was a very successful venture for many years.  Yes, I made a choice to close my store to better fulfill my role as wife and mother in this season in my life.  Yes, spending more time with my loved ones will bring me great joy.  And to some degree, yes, I am looking forward to having some time off from the massive responsibility of being a business owner (especially at the large scale we ran Flourish at).  But, the truth is: I made that decision out of an act of obedience to Christ.  There is real, deep sadness present in my heart right now too, even as I joyfully look forward to a summer spent with my boys.  This was not a course change I planned on or wanted.  This was something God designed for me and I put aside my will and said, “Yes, I will follow you Lord”.

So, when you feel the current in your life change and you realize all the sudden you are fighting to make any progress forward…ask yourself: “Is God’s voice redirecting me?  Am I struggling right now because I’m not meant to swim in this direction?”   If you realize you are in the current of His voice then stop, listen, and watch.  Are doors closing on you that used to stand open?  At Flourish, for me that looked like changes in social media that made it hard to reach my customers.  It meant my best selling model basically going radio silent and not returning phone calls or texts.  It meant long time employees who were ready to move on with their careers.  And then evaluate: are new doors opening?  For me that meant that my husband’s business was growing so much it made it hard for us to pursue two small businesses.  And, where I used to hate domestic work, I found myself finding surprising joy in things like grocery store trips and making home cooked meals.  Further, are you currently experiencing major life changes that make your prior plans challenging?  Are you swimming upstream against major changes.  In my situation, I had a new baby and trying to be a new mom again while still working the insane amount of hours I was used to working, to make Flourish prosper, was near impossible.  My work habits and needs greatly conflicted and even threatened the kind of mom I wanted to be.  So ask yourself: is what I am doing, threatening my character?  Are major changes in life making my old way of life difficult?  And lastly, look for common threads and themes in everything from conversations to songs you hear.  God’s voice and it’s current will find its way into almost every aspect if you are listening.  For me, I found myself listening to the song  Trust in You, by Lauren Daigle, which references “letting go of every single dream” and “Lord, I want what you want and nothing less”.  And then I found myself watching a video featuring a testimony by Joanna Gaines of Fixer Upper, which details how she walked away from her first version of Magnolia Market to follow the Lord’s call to spend more time at home raising her children while they were little.

These reoccurring themes, eventually became a deafening roar around me.  And as I continued to fight the current of the Lord’s voice, the current grew stronger and louder, leaving me more and more exhausted.  As I finally relented and opened myself up to what God was saying to me, I found rest and peace even in spite of the coinciding sadness.   He picked me up, tired and barely submissive, and I found myself carried in the current of His Love.  No longer struggling, no longer fighting, I let go and let God.   I still don’t see the exact reasons WHY He changed my course, but I DO feel and recognize the peace that only His path provides again.  I know I’m back in sync with His voice and will finally.  And there is no better place to be.

So I encourage you: listen for God’s voice in your life.  Watch for the change in current, the opening and closing doors, the changes in life that inherently point you in a new direction, the reoccurring themes, and the deep knowledge of what is right inside your heart.  And I promise you that if you stop fighting against the current of His will, even if you are fighting for something that seems good and used to be right, you will find the rest and peace that only He can provide.  The leap of faith is hard, but the price you pay if you keep fighting is high.






5 thoughts on “What does God’s voice sound like?

  1. Janet Raymer Smith says:

    Very well said, Vanessa. As I’m awake at 4 am with one of my own children who doesn’t feel well, and was scrolling through Facebook, saw this and gave me something to think about. The fact that it’s not a distinct voice that you hear guiding you, it’s something you have to listen for, recognize, and takes years of paying attention to hear. I think your a brave woman to start flourish, and even braver to know when to stop it. Thats not easy to do, since you put so much of yourself into it. I myself have ignored that inner voice many times thinking that what was being presented was the crazy option and thought I would rely on my intellect to guide me. And that’s only landed me in pretty bad situations, where I’ve looked back later and recognized that was someone or something telling me I needed to go a different direction. And possibly, that was God.
    So thank you for being so honest. I knew you when we were younger, and you’ve always had this great spirit and creativity. The nice thing is that follows you no matter where you chose to go. And you’ll be amazing at whatever you choose to do. 🙂


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