Thursday, February 2, 2012

Bringing More Than a Song (Part 1)

When I was little, like younger than five, and realized I loved to sing, I would sing Kumbaya all throughout the house, especially in the bath tub when I could be by myself and sing as loudly or as terribly as I wanted. Then this whole memory of singing kind of disappears, almost like it didn't exist. The next time I remember singing is when my parents bought me vocal lessons as a Christmas present when I was eleven. I think about this often, as to how they knew, or how they remembered when I didn't, that singing was my passion. 
The idea of singing in church always appealed to me, even when church did not. I liked the way people got so into it, and the power behind the words. So after I came to know Jesus, the idea of singing in church became more of a desire, and the possibility of it being my calling became such an exciting expectation for my life. I wanted to be on that stage, and that was my problem: I wanted to be on a stage.

My best friend is one of my favorite musicians in the entire world. It's a big world, but she still is. I remove any biases I might have, because she is genuinely talented and gifted beyond any words I could speak or type. When I met her, and found out we shared this love for creating and writing songs, I felt so blessed. And then we were given this opportunity to lead worship and be on a stage... then one day, we weren't. As she continued to progress, I had to take a step down to really reflect on what I was making worship. I was making it something that I shined through, and not my Savior. I was singing words that I had memorized and not words that had any power behind them at all, because every word, memorized or not, was empty. 

I became so jealous of my best friend because she was getting all of this attention for being so brilliant and anointed. I would have people tell me to step up, and that I didn't have to be in the background. My sister would encourage me and say, "You both love this. Why do you have to be jealous when you can do it too." She was right. I used to ask God, angrily, why He gave me a best friend with the same desires I had, because it only meant we'd walk in each others shadows. I think He finally gave me an answer with a text message my best friend sent me a couple of weeks ago. "... we should be complimenting each other and bring out the best in each other, not one overshadow[ing] the other. And I feel like we've always been in that position." We were, because we both made it that way. At least I know I did.

About eight months ago, we started this transition for the worship team at church, and awesomely enough both of us got to share in this change and be a part of this team. She started leading out more and I asked God from the beginning to just let me be there, whether my voice was even being heard by the congregation. And I don't say that to make myself sound better than I am, because I had to ask God that every Sunday and every practice when I felt I wasn't being taken seriously. But when you ask, and diligently pursue a Christ-like mindset, it's going to happen. I still couldn't shake this longing for leading a song, though, and then I realized there is nothing wrong with wanting to lead out; to assist in opening a door for someone. That is what I wanted, but I wanted it to be on God's time; I wanted to make sure God was in it. Then when it finally happened, I felt like I was flooded with all of these compliments that I loved, but I knew they could be my breaking point, because, after all, I am human. 

I want to obsess over how a song will sound. I want for people to love it. I want all the songs to be in a key that won't make me feel light headed. But most of all, I want all my wants to become faded as His become my real goal. The past month, I've really observed practices and services. How silly worship teams must look to some people who have never heard or known the love of Jesus. It probably looks like a little concert that almost seems uncomfortable, because you might have people crying or kneeling at the alter. You have people raising their hands, jumping, dancing, singing along, all while closing their eyes. And all the songs seem to have the name of Jesus in them. Oh, I can only imagine. Another thought, though, is how ridiculous it must be for people who have heard and know the love of Christ to just make worship about them, or make it only a surface proclamation. My wheels are continuously turning. What we make worship is scary sometimes, because we completely miss the point. Worship is to praise and thank God for who He is and what He has done. The focus is not what we can do, or who we are, because we are nothing without Him. The point of worship is to take a step further with God and realize that we belong in His presence.

"Be especially careful when you are trying to be good so that you don't make a performance out of it. It might be good theater, but the God who made you won't be applauding." Matthew 6:1 (Message)

I'd rather have my voice crack an entire song than never acknowledge God's presence. I don't ever want a song to sound good if He is not pleased. I sing for Him. This world is not my stage, it's a place where my maker can allow me to use this gift in any which way He wants me to. I will be humbled every time I sing, because I know without Him, I'd have no reason to.


  1. I Iove reading your insights. The cynic in me rebuts with Shakespeare:

    "To-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow,
    Creeps in this petty pace from day to day,
    To the last syllable of recorded time;
    And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
    The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!
    Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player,
    That struts and frets his hour upon the stage,
    And then is heard no more. It is a tale
    Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
    Signifying nothing."

    But the residue of Christian thinking tells me you know exactly what you're talking about. And wishes I could be that God-centered, too.

  2. Thanks for that. I mean, I think this comment is kind of a masked compliment. Kind of like you wanted to give one, but you couldn't. I still enjoyed it, nonetheless :)