This Week on Soul Talks
Hearing God is a central part of growing in relationship with the Lord. Yet many of us struggle to hear God and to distinguish his voice from our own thoughts. Be encouraged! Through learning to hear his voice, we will become convinced of his goodness, his love, and his good will toward us.
Tune in to Soul Talks as Kristi talks with guest Amy Dalke, Sr. Spiritual Director and Soul Shepherding Ministry Relations Advisor about hearing God. They unpack some common challenges we face in recognizing God’s voice. You will be encouraged with practical ways you can discern the voice of God more clearly and grow in confidence in hearing him.
Resources for this Episode:
Is That Voice in my Head God?
Kristi Gaultiere with Guest Amy Dalke
Hi, friends, so glad to have you joining us for another Soul Talk.
Only today it’s not with Bill and Kristi, it is with Kristie and one of our Soul Shepherding staff members, Amy Dalke.
Amy is in charge of our Ministry Relations and Development. She’s also one of our Sr. Spiritual Directors.
So Amy, thanks for joining me for a Soul Talk today, and joining our listeners.
I am so glad that we’re going to have this time to talk. I think it’s going to be a blessing for our listeners.
Thanks for the invitation. I’m happy to be here.
Well, Amy, you and I first met when you came to the Soul Shepherding Institute.
Why did you come?
Oh, goodness, why didn’t I come earlier?
I attended the Soul Shepherding Institute because I was initially going for the Spiritual Direction Training certification.
I showed up in October 2019.
I remember walking in and just really having a sense that the Lord was there.
I think I’ve told you and Bill so many times how I had this question in the back of my mind for so many years, “If Jesus is who he says he is, then why don’t I act like him? Why am I not growing like I want to grow?”
And even though I didn’t go to the Institute for that reason, I got that question answered.
I love that.
What an important and great question.
I think it is a question that a lot of people are asking.
I’m so, so grateful that you responded to the invitation of Jesus to come.
It took a lot of faith. You had to leave your husband and your son at home and fly to California, leaving for five days.
That was a big deal.
But it’s been so great to journey with you since then, and to see your growth.
So recently, you and I did a webinar together for our Soul Shepherding Network.
We have webinars that we do regularly that are available to any of our Soul Shepherding Network members to watch at any point or to join in live.
You and I had a fun conversation.
You actually asked to do this webinar with me, because Bill and I had done a webinar on Deconstruction, and we had gotten some questions that we didn’t get time to answer.
So you kind of had a passion for this topic.
So share that with our listeners.
Distinguishing God’s Voice From My Thoughts
I’d love to.
In that webinar, I made the comment that one of the things I have learned from you and Bill in the Institute was how to distinguish God’s voice from my own thoughts.
That question prompted so many comments and questions in the webinar, and we got emails after saying, “Can you share what they told you? What were those things?”
Even since then, in conversations that I’ve had with pastors or people that are interested in Soul Shepherding for whatever reason, I often get the question of, “How do we know? You know, I struggle with that. How do we know that it’s the Lord and, and not our own thoughts or emotions?”
So that’s why I was so passionate about doing this webinar, because I think so many people struggle with it, and maybe don’t even realize that they struggle with it.
Well, will you share a little bit more about your personal experience with that?
Because I think that our listeners will resonate.
I think we’ve all felt like you felt when you were at the Institute, and you asked Bill and I about this.
Yeah. So I mentioned earlier I started in 2019.
Through that process, it was kind of an opening up of getting me ready to learn what I have learned about hearing God’s voice.
But in the last retreat, in the fourth retreat, you made a point about how to differentiate our thoughts from God’s voice.
It occurred to me that it was like this light came on, “Oh my goodness, I’ve spent the last two decades just assuming that my thoughts and God’s thoughts were one and the same.”
Not from the sense that I thought I was always thinking God’s thoughts, but there was a particular issue that I was battling with.
It was one of those back and forth things in my mind of, “Is this God? Or is it me? Or is it God? Or is it me?”
And literally, when I say turmoil, it was turmoil.
I mean, I would have a space of a few days or a few weeks where it wouldn’t haunt me.
But then something would trigger it.
It would just throw me back into this spiral of “Is that God? Or is it me? Or is that the Holy Spirit?”
And when you made that one comment about differentiating between the two, it occurred to me that just because I think it, doesn’t mean it’s the Holy Spirit.
And that was so freeing, because I was able to recognize that I was hearing — I was assuming — the Lord was speaking to me in this condemning, accusing, disappointed, angry tone.
And it wasn’t him.
I was so grateful for your courage to ask that and to be willing to re-look at that and re-examine that and think, “Well, why wouldn’t that be the voice of God?”
Because you just assumed that it was.
And as you heard that, and you really looked at it, and you came to understand that it wasn’t, it must have changed the way that you hear that and from the then forth the way that you respond to the thoughts that are condemning and judgmental?
Hearing God’s Voice Through Empathy
It wasn’t until we were just in that webinar, and we’re talking about this question of how we hear God’s voice, it occurred to me that empathy played such a huge role in that.
How you and Bill, and Joan and Steve — all these Soul Shepherding people had just embraced us all.
When I would talk to you or talk to Bill about something that I was questioning or struggling with, I never got the look of ridicule or shame.
It was always love and always compassion.
I came to realize that you were Christ’s ambassador to me, in showing me his love for me.
So if Kristi’s responding to me with this love and compassion, that’s how Jesus embraces me and responds to me.
It was really a process of receiving that empathy and then being able to relate that to how God speaks.
Yes, yes, I love that.
Thank you, Amy, so much for sharing that because all of us, Bill and I, you and all of our listeners, have heard those voices that are judgmental, condemning, and accusing, and have made the mistake at times of assuming that that’s God, and that’s how he feels towards us.
It’s so sad, because that’s not the voice of God who calls us his beloved.
And yet we need ambassadors of him, who can help us to recognize that we are hearing either the voice of the accuser, Satan himself, who lies, who comes to us and accuses, as a scripture tells.
Or we’re hearing the voice of an internalized parent, or significant teacher, or someone from our past.
We’ve internalized that condemning voice, that critical voice, that judging voice.
Or it’s our own self and we’re treating ourselves in ways that are really shaming, really condemning, really critical, really judging.
Then we’re projecting that onto God.
So for us to get to be a part of you getting free from that is such a joy and an honor and privilege.
That’s what we want for our listeners, too.
So now you are a wounded healer like us, getting to be a part of helping others through holding a safe space for them in spiritual direction.
Listening to them in a place where they can be safe to be honest about what their thoughts are, what they’re thinking that God thinks about them, and what they’re thinking God is saying to them.
In a space where they can receive God’s love, God’s empathy, God’s grace, God’s truth.
Where they can really bring all of that spinning in their head into the light of God’s presence, and receive from him his true word that’s restorative.
Not that God doesn’t ever speak a corrective word.
He does, of course.
He loves us, and Scripture talks about that too, that God disciplines those he loves.
There’s times when he does speak a word that cracks us, but it’s not condemning.
Right. It’s very different, very different.
God’s Voice is…
It has authority for sure.
God’s voice always has authority when we hear it— that it’s true.
It will work, that it’s practical, it’s based in reality.
God’s voice is usually a gentle, peaceful whisper.
It’s like the voice that Elijah heard. He came in the whisper.
God doesn’t have to be hysterical and all empowering and thunderous and all this.
When we’re listening to him, we’re seeking, we’re walking with him.
He’s our shepherd.
Like he says in John, he’s a good shepherd, and we’re sheep, and we hear His voice.
He doesn’t have to use all kinds of horrible things to try to get our attention.
He can just whisper to us, speak that sense of inner peace and authority, and it’ll resonate with us.
What else did you learn through your time at the Institute and the session that we taught on discerning God’s voice and being able to hear God’s voice?
It’s a process, right? It’s not perfect.
I still have days where I get caught up in assuming what God’s posture towards me is.
I have to talk to myself, and talk to other people and have somebody remind me that “No, that’s actually not right.That’s not God. God loves you.”
Another helpful thing is being able to relate to him as a good father.
To understand that as a parent who truly loves us, and wills good for us in all things, that his voice and the way he is with me is not to push me away.
He’s glad to be with me.
He’s always glad to be with me, and he delights in me.
So practicing breath prayers, and other disciplines of meditating on his word and really spending time seeing him smiling at me has been a game changer.
I love that.
Yeah, one of the things that we talk and teach in the Institute is Jesus’ delight in us.
For you to be able to receive that and come to trust that, it’s life changing.
That changes our relationship with God because it increases our trust in Him.
It increases our desire to want to hear from him when we are more convinced of his goodness, his love, and that he’s willing good for us.
We’re open and eager to want to know what he knows, and want to yield ourselves to Him.
Yeah, thank you.
The Three Jewels of God’s Voice
Well, one of the things that we talked about in the webinar on hearing God is some of the content from chapter eight in Journey of the Soul.
We write about discerning God’s voice and discerning when an experience that we have —how do we know if it’s from God or not?
And we talk about Teresa of Jesus.
One of the things she says that we write in the book, is that when we have a divinely inspired experience, which oftentimes hearing God’s voice is, it usually comes with three jewels.
She says one is the knowledge and the greatness of God.
He’s just so loving. He’s so good. He’s so brilliant.
Jesus, like Dallas Willard said, is the smartest, most intelligent being of all time.
It comes with that brilliance.
What a great idea, what incredible knowledge is coming to us in this word from God and our experience of God.
Then the second one is — it comes with this sense of self knowledge that humbles us.
That humbling isn’t humiliating, it isn’t condemning. It isn’t scolding, it isn’t shaming.
But it’s a sense of the right place of, “I’m a sheep. And I need this good shepherd. I want to be led, I want to be shepherded. I want to be cared for, I want to be guided. I want to be under the shelter — like, Psalm 91 says — I want to be under the shelter of God Almighty. Under his wing, there’s protection.”
Then it comes with the third jewel — contempt for all earthly things, except serving God because we’re so enthralled with Jesus, it’s so good.
His love has broken through to us in this amazing way, that we’d be foolish to desire anything else but God.
I would think that’s part of what you were recognizing with the resonating — that this voice in your head didn’t have the quality of any of those three jewels.
Not at all, not at all. Yeah.
12 Ways to Discern God’s Voice
Then also in Journey of the Soul, in chapter eight, we talked more about some ways that you can go back through when you’ve heard from God and see if there are certain other things.
We list 12 things that are genuine words or touches, they’re genuine ways of discerning.
So things in the book, like it’s consistent with scripture.
That it has that calm authority to it.
That it’s gentle, like the voice of Jesus.
That oftentimes there’s a surprise to it, “Oh, I wouldn’t have thought of that!”
That’s a surprise.
It’ll bring clarity or open up a whole new meaning to things that we haven’t haven’t seen, because it’s opening up the kingdom of the heavens, a whole spiritual realm of God and His world.
It also makes an impression on your memory.
You tend to remember when you’ve heard from God, and it produces more faith in us — that’s something else that we write about in Journey of the Soul.
It inspires us to worship God, and humbles us, and turns us away from the world.
So what are some things you’ve learned that are helping you to be able to tune out and not give weight to those voices in your head, and tune in to Christ and to the Holy Spirit?
Yeah, I think there are a few go-to disciplines that I have really prioritized.
One is a practice of starting out the day with gratitude, focusing on Jesus.
I did find that I was automatically waking up in this sense that I had disappointed God.
It was kind of a regular thing.
What I’ve done is as soon as I wake up in the morning, I think about how I think you or Bill at one point told me how Dallas would wake up and say “God is here.”
So even when I wake up, before I even have a chance to register any kind of shame, I don’t yell God is here, because my husband might not appreciate that.
But I grab my coffee and I go into my study and before those thoughts can start going, I will thank the Lord and praise Him and just really meditate on a Psalm of praise.
So that’s one of the disciplines that I have done to help me recognize God’s voice.
Another is just scripture memorization has helped me meditate.
That has been truly key in getting the word in my heart and in my mind, so that it becomes part of me and comes out at the appropriate time.
His word is living an active, and Holy Spirit is so good and faithful, reminding us of what he said and what he’s done and what his promises are.
Those have been the top two big keys for me.
Yeah, thank you.
I also found those two to be so helpful to me too, just to be able to learn to listen to God and His Word.
Getting out one of the Soul Shepherding Lectio Divina guides that are on our Network or in our resources, and just sitting with the Lord making that space, that unhurried time, that intentional time, and listening to Him in His Word.
Then also in conversation and the questions and the prompts.
Making that space with faith to believe that he’s going to have an invitation for me, he’s going to have something to say to me, and I want to hear it.
So we talked through in our webinar eight other things that you and I find really helpful.
We don’t have time on the Soul Talk podcast to do that.
But hopefully, our friends will check out that webinar and join us there for more.
Thank you so much for just taking this time today to join me to share.
I know our listeners are thinking,
I’m just so relieved to know I’m not the only one that thought these voices of condemnation and negativity were from God.
Thank you, Amy, for being courageous enough to say that, and to help me to see that no, that’s not from the Lord and I need to meet with a spiritual director that I can be honest with and talk to.
I need an ambassador of Christ who can be there for me and listen with empathy, and question what I’m accepting as being from God and see, “What does God really have to say about this?”
Now you are a spiritual director, you’re meeting with people.
I’m so thankful, so thankful for Soul Shepherding and for the ministry.
It’s so important.
We could go on and on about why it’s so important for a long time.
Well, we’re so thankful that you accepted Jesus’s invitation to join the spiritual direction training, get trained, and now to be offering to others out of the overflow what you’ve received from him.
Will you do that right now by praying for our listeners?
I would love to.
Jesus, thank you that you are with us.
Thank you that we can truly know your smile on us.
We can come to know who you really are.
We all have distorted views, or we have had at some point.
We come to this place where we realize that the ways that we have seen you, the ways that we have interacted with you, the ways that we have known you, haven’t really been you.
The reasons that we came to this distorted view don’t even matter.
You are good.
Help us to just live in the knowledge of your goodness.
In Jesus name, Amen.
Thank you so much, Amy.
Thank you to each of you, our Soul Talk friends.
We love having you with us and we look forward to another Soul Talk with you next week.