Have you ever heard a rumor about one of your best friends and thought to yourself, "Hmm...that doesn't sound like something she/he would do!" You immediately call up your friend, and sure enough, it was a vicious lie started by a jealous co-worker.
You were able to discriminate between truth and gossip, because you knew your friend. You know what your friend likes or dislikes. You know the type of person they are and what values they uphold. You've spent years getting to know your friend, and so, it is was fairly easy for you to "smell something fishy" when the rumor started. Those who didn't know your friend, however, were fooled into believing that the rumor was true.
Similarly, it is hard to hear God's voice when you don't know what He sounds like. You can easily be fooled by those who don't have your best intentions in mind and that is why taking the time to get to know God is vital to understanding which voice is His. Reading Sacred Scripture is one of the best ways to familiarize yourself with who God is and what He is like. In particular, I suggest reading the Gospels, because they eloquently reveal the life, teachings, and Passion of Christ.
When I was in high school, I struggled with feeling like I was not good enough. Seventeen magazines and shows like the OC and One Tree Hill all portrayed beautiful women with flawless figures and gorgeous faces. Billboards, commercials, and movies often objectify women by sexualizing them on their advertisements and roles. These media-related "voices" were not ashamed to tell me that I had to look a certain way, wear particular clothes, and act in such and such manner to gain the approval of others.
It wasn't until I picked up the Bible and read Songs of Songs 4:7 that I realized just how wrong these voices were. It read, "You are all beautiful, my beloved, and there is no blemish in you!" God was speaking to me through His Word, and while the media set out to convince me and others that I was not good enough, God was telling me that I was made perfectly in His image and likeness (Genesis 1:27). I didn't have to change myself in any away to be loved and accepted by Him. He invited me to come as I am, and until that day, I never looked back.
When I was in college, I had a crush on one of my classmates. He, however, was an atheist, and I, a passionate Catholic, wasn't sure if I should even entertain dating him. At that time, I had a goal of reading a chapter a day from the Bible. As I read the next chapter, I was shocked that God was trying to address my concerns regarding even the most smallest of matters like my dating life. It was from 1 Corinthians 7:12-14 which reads, "To the rest I say (not the Lord): if any brother has a wife who is an unbeliever, and she is willing to go on living with him, he should not divorce her; and if any woman has a husband who is an unbeliever, and he is willing to go on living with her, she should not divorce her husband. For the unbelieving husband is made holy through his wife, and the unbelieving wife is made holy through the brother..." Through Scripture, God revealed to me that I had nothing to fear regarding dating others who had different beliefs than mine and that He would guide me every step of the way. Basically, I heard Him say, "Give him a chance, and let the date speak for itself!" Welp, I finally decided to go on a date with him, and it turned out that we were better off as friends!
When I graduated from college, I was rejected numerous times from the career path that I was working towards. Feeling confused and frustrated, I took some time in prayer, opened the Bible and read, "For I know well the plans I have in mind for you—says the LORD—plans for your welfare and not for woe, so as to give you a future of hope" (Jeremiah 29:11). God had something greater in mind for me, a plan that I was unaware of because I was too busy forging my own path. As I turned my gaze towards God and His will for this life He has blessed me with, I learned that He was calling me to serve full-time in ministry. First, it was serving as a Youth and Young Adult Minister, and now, it is serving as a Spiritual Director. None of these paths have ever crossed my mind, and had I not trusted in the plans God had for me, I would have never experienced the joy of being a Youth and Young Adult Minister as well as a Spiritual Director!
Throughout my life, God has spoken directly to me through Sacred Scripture. His Word consoles me and offers healing, peace, joy, and love. God wants to speak to you too! He yearns to spend time with you, and He has written words of great love to address every need you have.
When you read a passage in the Bible, ask yourself the following questions: What does this verse/passage mean to me? Which character do I connect with? How does this story relate to my life? What is God trying to tell me through this passage? Then, listen. Allow His Word to penetrate your heart and soon enough, you will begin to better understand what His voice sounds like.
May you come to know God through His Word and hear His voice of love today!