Voices in My Head: Listening to My Invisible Bestie

A psychiatrist once told me that there was a name for what is wrong with my brain. He called it “Schizoid Tendencies.” It means I hear voices, but they don’t make me feel creeped out or like I’m being watched. They are kind of like a low-level hum that surround my human experience.

Recently, I went to a new psychiatrist. He was very interesting. When I told him a bit about my history of mental illness, he asked me a routine barrage of questions. Do you eat? Do you sleep? Do you feel like you’d like to kill anyone?

No. Sometimes. Yes, but only in a very emotionally metaphorical way, and I want to kill almost everyone I love every day at least once. Like most Americans.

And then he asked the big one: “Do you hear voices?”

This question makes me squirm because it’s SO easy to lie. I mean, I know what normal is like, right? I’m really good at acing those teen magazine quizzes. I know that the middle of the road answer is usually the safest.

But he’s a doctor, so I figured I should tell the truth.

“Yes,” I said, pretty cagey. “But not all the time, and they never tell me to do anything bad or scary. I stopped listening to those mean voices a long time ago.”

He looked at me, obviously interested. “What kinds of things do the voices tell you?”

“I don’t know. They tell me I’m doing a good job. They remind me to go to appointments. Generally, I just talk to God a lot and he says he loves me. Sometimes I can sense things about people or hear people who have died. I kind of know things about people I’ve never met before. I know that sounds crazy. I’m kind of crazy.”

The doctor smiled. “Doesn’t sound that crazy.”

“Should I get some medication so that they’ll go away?”

He shook his head and put down his pen and papers. “If they’re not bothering you or telling you to do anything harmful to anyone, I don’t see why not. And if they’re helping you to connect with people or God in a positive way, that’s not a reason for medication. That’s a gift.”

So, yeah. He was the coolest, most chill psychiatrist I’ve ever had.

I’m telling you this today because I had a conversation with Jesus today.

I know, I know. A bunch of you have noped the hell out. That’s fine. But consider this before you go:

A) You don’t have to believe in Jesus, but I do.

B) If you’re going to have an adult imaginary friend, there’s no one more positive to hang out with. And…

C) He specifically wanted me to tell you a thing.

Okay, so I’m doing my dishes and chatting with the Savior, Lord, Redeemer of Mankind. It sounds like a big deal when you string a bunch of His names together, but I usually just call him “dude” or “Lord.” We are very tight, and I talk to Him A LOT.

I was actually talking to Him ABOUT talking to Him. I said, “Hey, dude. Lord. I love talking to you about everything, but you sound an awful lot like my own voice. How do I know that I’m not just talking to myself? In fact, I kind of think I’m just talking to myself. Like a crazy person.”

He laughed, which is actually very nice to hear. He has one of those crinkly, no-stress laughs, where his eyes are squinty and his head rocks back. And of course, I don’t really hear it, I just imagine it, but it’s a very realistic imaginary journey.

He said, “Everyone thinks that they’re talking to themselves. You all think that. But you’re all talking to me, all the time.”

I love the idea that the inner voice that helps you work things out, tells you you’ve done a good job, reminds you to rest, gives you that emotional hug at the end of the day…that it’s Jesus just hanging out in your brain. Why? Well, because He’s here on the journey with you, just like he’s on the journey with me. I asked him once how he could be in all the places, all the time. The answer was really weird and esoteric, and even I don’t think I understand it still.

Anyhow, the point is this: Jesus really, really is always with you. Regardless of whether you believe it. Regardless of whether you think it’s crazy or not. Somehow, you and I are an extension of him—unique manifestations of a limitless consciousness exploring itself in a finite reality. Why? Because it’s fun. Because all the thoughts have to be thought. All the actions need to be explored. Because baths feel nice on a cold day and crying can actually make you feel still in a way that is verging on transcendental.

The bottom line is that the existence that we live in right now FEELS so real and so far away from God. But it isn’t. It’s a play. It’s a great and incredible game, and our avatars are perfectly designed to help us learn the things we’re here to know. And Jesus? He’s always whispering to us how much he loves us. And he is hoping that, while we’re playing the game, we will remind each other of that love by sharing it and showing it to the other players.

Last story.

Once, I was driving home and I felt Jesus whisper to me to drop by someone’s house that I hadn’t talked to in years. I’d moved away just a few years before, and I had barely known this family. I found myself in their neighborhood, and kept hearing Him tell me I should go in. I pulled my car over and sat across from the driveway, arguing.

“This is crazy, Lord. I’m crazy. These people don’t know me. They don’t need me. Also, did I mention that I’m a crazy person? I’m probably just talking to myself in my head.”

He laughed again, which is always a remarkable feeling. Then he said, “Willow, you think I can’t work with crazy?”

So, I knocked on the door.

What I found was that the husband of the home had just been diagnosed with terminal cancer. He was getting ready to start chemo the next day and was looking for a bit of comfort in the face of some terrible news. I was able to share with them my story of healing and dietary restrictions (still haven’t had sugar for almost 2 years now). Whether it changed their life, I’ll never really know. But I left realizing that I was a little less crazy than I thought. And, regardless of whether of whose voice told me to go and talk with their family, the result was that I was in the right place at the right time, giving love in some small way.

That’s what He’s all about, anyway. All the little loves.

I keep talking to my imaginary friend who is really not imaginary at all. And I’m sure that it makes some people feel good to know that they don’t ever have to take me seriously again. But here’s the thing: He is always talking to you, too. And every time that little voice inside of you tells you you’re loved, or wakes you up without an alarm, or reminds you to say your prayers, or gives you a tingly feeling after buying a fundraiser chocolate bar, it’s just the Lord reminding you that he’s here and he’s always willing to talk if you’re willing to listen.

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