Last weekend at my church’s Praise Team Retreat, I performed a song I wrote. It was the first time I’ve ever performed an original song for a group of people, and I was pretty nervous. I expected that. What I didn’t expect was getting so choked up with emotion that I could barely croak out the first half of the song.
The lyrics of my own song just got me..
You taught me to fear you, you taught me to love you
When I stand in your presence, I tremble
For you are good, good to me
I was carried back to the night I first met God, the night God came to me as a 10-year-old girl and promised to take care of me. I was brought back to that time of vulnerability and inexperience, when I didn’t have anything to offer God, and God came and showed me the way.
You taught me to hear you, you taught me to know your voice
You taught me to see you, even on the darkest night
You taught me to know you, You taught me to trust you
I come to your presence and give you everything
For you are good, so good to me
I didn’t mind that tears were streaming down my face as I returned to my seat. I knew it was a safe place to let my emotions show, and I could tell that people were touched. But part of me was like, “Of course God would have me cry in front of everyone again. I always think God wants to use my musical gifts, but instead He always uses my emotions.”
God immediately said, Them seeing you get touched like that by Me is so much more powerful than them hearing you sing “well.”
I knew God was right. I knew that it was an honor to be used by God in that way and that I was just letting my pride detract from the moment. As a music major, I’m accustomed to touching people through the excellence of my music, not through breaking down into tears.
Later, during worship time, God took it even further.
Your whole life, music has been about performing, about doing it well, God said. I thought back on all the piano recitals I’ve played, all the choirs and solos I’ve auditioned for, all the teachers and adjudicators I have had to prove myself to. It’s not about that anymore; it’s never going to be about that again. Now your music is just going to be about showing people My heart.
That’s when I broke down sobbing.
The thing is that I never wanted music to be about performing. I always want it to be about sharing. Sharing my heart, sharing something beautiful and profound. But so often I was distracted by thoughts of showing off my talent, by wondering what others thought of me. But as God broke down my pride and took away this gift I had always looked to for identity and worth, I found it returned to me as something completely different, something exceedingly more beautiful.
I began crying out to God, “Anoint me! Anoint me to bring healing to people through my music. I want to touch the children who have been hurt and wounded, who have the same vulnerable heart inside them that I do. I want to touch adults, too, to touch that child that lives inside them. I want to bring healing to the vulnerable part of them that feels helpless, that feels like they don’t have anything to bring to you. I want to show them that You love them!”
After I had cried out everything inside me, I leaned back to recover (worship still continuing) and started to laugh. I heard God say, When you were a meek little girl, they had no idea how POWERFUL you were going to become, and deep peals of laughter shook me. Healing, freeing peals of laughter.
Last night at the prayer tabernacle, my team leader said I went to a whole new level of boldness in my singing. I was surprised the change was so outwardly apparent. But even as I smiled at my team clapping and cheering for me, I realized that their affirmation didn’t mean nearly as much as it would have before. In a good way.
I appreciated the affirmation, but I didn’t do it for them. I did it for God.
God is giving me much greater dreams for my music than I had before. I see my music bringing healing, breaking bondages, and setting people free. I see myself unafraid to show my emotions (whether tears or laughter) even when singing in front of thousands. I see my vulnerability leading the way for others to be vulnerable and invite God’s love into tender places. I see God smiling down on me as I do all this. I feel God smiling at me right now.