The worship leader who stopped singing
Some of my earliest memories include: a hairbrush, Amy Grant on audio cassette and a mirror. These three items respectfully standing in for my microphone, my hero and my best friend. By the time I was 6 years old I had found what I then believed to be my passion… I LOVED to sing. But if I’m going to be honest, I probably loved the recognition and affirmations even more. Since I grew up in the church, my gifting provided me opportunities to be on stage, in just a slightly different culture. Accolades sounded more holy but they soothed this approval addiction of mine just the same.
A few years ago I stopped. Apart from the lullabies whispered into the ears of my babies, I have given up the microphone and resigned the stage entirely. In some ways, it just may be the best thing I have ever done. In my quest for authenticity, primarily within myself, I have realized that my truest self and the stage will never reconcile. And here’s the thing… I wasn’t a fake. As a worship leader, I genuinely wanted people to turn their eyes upon Jesus. I cried when I was emotional. I raised my fist in triumph when I was encouraged. I lifted my arms when I knew I needed to surrender. But there was also a part of me that gloried in the spotlight. A part of me that knew I was stealing something incredibly valuable from God Himself. I tried to fight it every Sunday. Some days were better than others… but the truth remained even if unspoken. My brokenness craved the praise of a broken society that would often rather give honour and attention to someone they can see.
Up until recently, we had been having church at home… just our little family of four. This is perhaps, another blog for another day. But after we waded through our bitterness and exhaustion we stumbled into something incredible and holy. We stumbled upon the freedom to just be in His presence. On these mornings, in my housecoat with bedhead hair and morning breath, my worship is for an audience of one. And there is no doubt in my mind of whether or not I am experiencing the presence of God, for the tears that stream down my cheeks. Because, though my lips are moving, no sound escapes. Imagine that. In the throne room of my Lord and king and I am made perfectly aware that without him I don’t even have a voice. Yet even without it, I know I am safe here. I have nothing to prove. I am whole. I am accepted just as I am. And all is as it should be.
Here’s the thing…
Something incredible happens when we just shut up.
When we leave some room.
When we turn down the noise and just wait for His still small voice.
He tells us things.
Hard and necessary things.
And this, I have learned, is the truest form of worship.
When He gets our full attention, our focus, our whole heart.
It is more precious to Him than pretty words of pretty songs filling space.
And, then, I am suddenly back in the here and now, in my humble little country kitchen, the baby peacefully asleep on my shoulder and the 2 year old curiously watching me from where he plays on the floor. It dawns on me, how much these boys benefit when mommy worships in the kitchen… in more ways than I can even imagine. Sometimes, they need to see me broken and poured out. And right there, in that moment, I determine that singing and dancing and stillness and weeping will all be synonymous with the memory of our kitchen. And there is something grounding in the fact that this is where I also yell at my kids and fight with my husband. As much as I love to cook and gather loved ones around my table, I know that this is the best possible use for the hearth of my home. And I also see now, how my 6 year old self had half of it right… I had my found my purpose and my passion. I may even step on stage again someday… but even if I never do, I know with more certainty than I ever had as a “worship leader,” that I was created for this.
So as I cook and clean… as I inhabit this space… on good days and bad…
I lift up my eyes, my voice, my heart… and I worship the lover of my soul.
Because I need to.
Because I was created to.
Because it settles my soul and refreshes my spirit.
But most importantly, I worship because He deserves it.
And when it is necessary, I sing.