"Why not?" He asked.
I can't sing. I can't sing alto. I haven't been keeping up with my lessons with Terri. I just haven't had the time or the energy. I feel so musically incompetent.
He waited, silent as I stood there wrestling with myself, with Him, with my insecurities and fears. Then finally: "There is another reason..."
Mm. I don't feel like I'm ready to stand up there and lead people into worship. I don't have much of anything worth saying at this point. I'm struggling so much just to keep my heart set on You and You know how many times I've failed and failed to put You first in my life. I don't even do half the things that I know I should. How am I supposed to get up there and be an example for everyone when I'm falling on my face every time I take two steps in any direction? I'm not ready.
"When will you be ready?"
When I've perfected keys. When I've perfected my alto. When I'm a better musician. When I know what I'm doing. When I've got more time. When... when I've perfected my life and how I come to stand before You.
"Which will be..."
... never, I finally admit. I'm too much of a perfectionist.
"Do it," said God. "And never forget why you sing."
It will always be a journey. It has always been a journey. Though I've known it for a long time, it took me even longer to realize that I would never be ready. I could never be ready. With my faults enough to fill at least the Indian Ocean, if not the Pacific, I would never have felt ready enough to stand up there looking like I had it all together. For that matter, I would never have it all together, and even if I did, what difference would it make? Would that have made my worship more authentic and whole? Certainly not. The point of leading worship is to lead people, wherever they are on the path towards God, all of us, inperfect and unholy and unrighteous together, to a place where we can all sing and dance and embrace grace full in the face. I'm so unworthy and imperfect and that's precisely why I should stand up there and be the first to admit that I am not yet who I want to be, but God can fill me and use me even if I'm empty. I suspect that I'm not alone in feeling this way, and it's always helped me to hear from someone who's been there.
Maybe the fact that I don't feel worthy to do it is precisely why I should.
That day I wrestled with God, I also realized that I would never have the time for music if I didn't make it myself. I've been putting it off each time, telling myself that I'd get back to it when I was ready, when I had more time, when things were easier and I would have a definite chance to look at everything and really immerse myself in it, and not end up like the last three times when I'd just go for two lessons and then stop due to Terri's schedule and mine conflicting. I know where I want to go, what I want to do -- it makes sense to move in that direction instead of letting my insecurity and fear get in the way. Furthermore, I know that in order to not let medicine consume me whole, I need to force myself to find the time to do something I really want to do, so I've resolved to let that be my thing: to have at least a little bit of music in my life every day.
And so it was that the next day, after chapel, I dragged myself over to Dr. Lamberton and told him I'd be okay with leading worship next week. I'd emailed him the week before, telling him that I was definitely interested in leading worship at some point, but didn't feel ready at the time and would far rather help someone else out for the time being, but if he couldn't find anyone, that I would try to do it. He informed me that if he wasn't mistaken, someone had already agreed to lead worship, and it might have been me, but he wasn't sure -- but in any case, would I be willing to do special music? And in a moment of insanity, I agreed.
I chose Please Come, a song with intensely personal meaning to me, both because it was something I knew how to play and could sing reasonably well and because it fit in with the theme of what the speaker was going to talk about. Of course, much hilarity and stress ensued around organizing it, not to mention the emotional havoc and the usual insecurities and such flaring up again. "Special music" includes the word "special", which implies that something is special, meaning that your talent is "special", and could I honestly say that my talent was special? I'm not the most amazing singer or pianist; my voice doesn't invoke chills like Andi's. Baring it all, my insecurities and my inperfections, before my entire class, was something I was terrified of -- for most of them, their first insight into who I was would be of me singing a song written by an insanely amazing singer-songwriter who I can never hope to even come close to. It took me a lot to remember who I was doing this for and why, and that I was only the messenger.
Then came the realization that I had practiced on Sunday standing up at a keyboard, and that when sitting down at the grand piano in chapel on Tuesday afternoon while practicing, I sounded nasal. When I inquired, Taylor first said he didn't think that there was anything wrong, but when I complained that I felt nasal, Taylor admitted he thought I was getting sick. Great. I practiced long and hard into the night, focusing on keeping my voice in the right place. I was exhausted the next day, and didn't feel like I'd nailed it, but people thought it was awesome; most importantly, I had given my all and my best and I had brought this sacrifice to my Father -- my pride, my fears, my insecurity.
It was almost unreal. I've never performed in front of that many people like that. Oh, I've done the piano recital here and there, but it's never been this many people or in quite the same way. I hadn't written the song, but still, the song was so much of me, and here I was, I was baring my soul to 200 people I didn't know, 200 people who were my classmates and professors and people who would likely only know me by this.
I've never sung my soul out in front of 200 people. But it was amazing. Especially our vocal harmony. The part after the bridge where we're all singing "Come" in four-part harmony fills my heart in a way very few other things have.
I was happy. I felt full, fulfilled, and so, so alive. For there was truly no higher calling, no greater honor, than to bow and kneel before His throne. And no less importantly, I was doing what I had always wanted to do. It was an amazing high.
I wish I can say that I spent the remainder of the week floating on air, but it didn't last long. For one, I've been rapidly falling behind in anatomy. The overused expression "drinking from a fire hose" comes to mind here. I've never had anatomy before, much less human anatomy, and I've never been one much for learning muscles and bones and the rote memorization required to do so. Still, God somehow managed to teach me yet again that it was not at all about me -- it was all for Him, and if brought my all I would please Him somehow.
And so it was that in yet another moment of insanity, when Gaby called me and asked if I was willing to lead worship next week, I said yes.
I chose songs reminding me of how much I need God, of how I can depend on God when I feel like I've got nothing left to give. Bethany Dillon's amazing "All I Need" for the pre-chapel song. "Blessed Assurance", "You are my All in All", and "Enough" for the worship set. Three years after I first burst into singing "all of You is more than enough for all of me, for every thirst and every need" while walking towards the bookstore to purchase a scantron during exam week, it is still a powerful reminder for me, a powerful calming feeling and the knowledge that everything will be okay, because God is in control. It's become my exam song and anthem, the song I pull out when I need reassurance.
You're enough for me.
We practiced last night at my house, all of us except Taylor. Out of the four or so hours we spent working together, we came up with such gems as ending "You are my All in All" not only acapella, as I'd wanted to, but like this -- which left me in complete fits of laughter and completely unable to sing.
I've been dreaming of this moment since I was fourteen.
for there is no higher calling, no greater honor
than to bow and kneel before Your throne
I'm amazed at Your glory, embraced by Your mercy
oh Lord, I live to worship You
I live to worship You.