It is hard to believe that it has been now slightly over three months since we moved back to New York from Pittsburgh. It has come with joys, but also some degree of personal sacrifice. The joys of being back in a known area with known family and old friends is countered by the reality of a church we grew to love and friends that became our extended family still being back there. We left the comfort of our own home and dual employment to the intricate struggles of single income and renting. But for me, perhaps the biggest shift in this season is not the aforementioned things, but the loss of being in a worship-leading capacity.
Music has been the greatest part of my life ever since I can remember. When I was about 5 years old, my sisters and I began singing together in church. This grew to eventually become a traveling singing/worship ministry through my teenage years. Additionally, I was always involved in the worship ministry at the churches I went to. Initially, my involvement was that of a musician. I played the piano. However, at the age of 17, I was given the opportunity to lead worship at a Thursday night prayer service once. Something happened. It wasn’t merely music or Godly songs that I loved. It was the specific moments of corporate worship that enthralled me.
From then on, I began going down the path of worship leading. It was evident to me that this was something God had created me for. I had found my niche. I had found my purpose (eeewww… purpose? Yeah… sorry… there really wasn’t a better word… I know it’s over-used by a certain book… but, oh well, lol).
There have been little joys greater than being in a corporate worship environment and having the trust and responsibility to lead the worship to our Lord and King. Outside of that, little things measure up [for me]. If I add up the Sundays in my life from the age of 18 until this past December in which I did NOT lead worship, I would venture to say that number would be less than 50. It’s just something I have always done on a weekly basis… until 3 months ago.
I knew it would be a change, but boy was I mistaken. It was as if you ripped a pacifier out of a baby’s mouth. My comfort. My ‘joy.’ My thing. I was not doing it anymore. What would I do?
I have been in worship settings in which I am not the leader, so it was not “entirely” out of place. But it has been REALLY difficult. I have needed to re-learn worshiping God in a worship setting withOUT being the worship leader. Yeah, I know… tough one.
The biggest challenge for me is my voice. If you know me, you’ll agree I have a big voice (or you can say it,… big mouth, lol). I love to sing. I sing in a particular way. When I’m in a corporate worship setting, usually in a leading capacity, I have enjoyed singing the “in-between” and “non-scripted” lyrics that flow out of what I feel God is doing at that moment. Whether it’s repetition of the lyrics, or partial truths or scripture to go along with the theme, I really enjoy it.
Along with this, I know how I have felt when “I” have been leading, and someone ‘else’ has been doing these things. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not referring to a “I’m-the-only-one-that-can-do-this” sort of thing. I simply mean that if more than one person is singing like this, it seems like a little “battle” that ensues. I have had this happen to me, and people have asked me afterwards, “I thought U were supposed to lead worship.”
My default is spontaneous worship. I have had to re-learn that part because I’m not the worship leader. I’m ok with that, but it’s the current reality.
What I have done to help this is not sing out loud all the time. This is something that I have sometimes done. The congregation is singing loudly, and I will sing the words… eyes shut… just enough that I can hear, and God can hear. I know, … some “Bible-thumping-types” will tell me I’m supposed to sing my praises LOUDLY… blah blah blah… yeah, I agree. But I think there are times and seasons in life in which it’s NOT about how loudly you exclaim your praises… or how eloquently you utter your prayers… or how beautiful your ‘spontaneous worship’ can sound (a tough one for me). It’s about U… and God.
This has been my current season. I am re-learning to worship God… withOUT music. For me,… a season of music-less worship.