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Posts Tagged ‘grace’

istock_000007202737xsmall1Yesterday I had the wonderful opportunity to play and sing some of my songs at a ladies’ ministry event at church. Music has been my passion for as long as I can remember. One of my earliest memories is of hearing a Burt Bacharach song, “This Guy’s In Love”, on the car radio while out shopping with my mom. What I remember was how it made me feel – the emotion that welled up in my five-year-old heart was powerful, and I’ve never forgotten that feeling.

When I was about nine, mom “forced me” to take piano lessons. I laugh as I type these words, because the story has become part of our family lore. I was a tomboy, and to me, playing piano was a very “girly” thing, so I didn’t want anything to do with it. I guess mom, in her wisdom and foresight, knew that being able to play the piano and read music was a good thing, so she devised a plan. My passion at that point was hockey and I played in a girls’ league. Mom said, “if you want to play hockey, you have to take piano lessons!” So I did. I am eternally grateful to her!

In my teen years I began to play the guitar. I guess in some ways I was trying to forge my own path, to differentiate myself from what I thought mom wanted for me. Playing guitar struck me as being decidedly more “cool” than playing piano. For one thing, most rock stars played guitar. Before long I set my sights on becoming a rock star. Music was the one thing in life that I really loved doing, so this seemed like a reasonable goal to me. My parents were naturally horrified. They wanted their children to attend university and have stable, middle-class careers – and I don’t blame them now. I can completely understand. The trouble was, I felt like a square peg being forced into a round hole. My passion, the thing that made my heart beat, was music – playing, singing, songwriting.

I think you could argue that frequently, people who are drawn to performing are unconsciously trying to meet a need for acceptance, approval, and love. I know this was true in my case. Insecurity was a big part of what drove me to pursue rock stardom. At a very basic level, I was hungering for love and acceptance. This can create big problems, because audiences don’t always respond positively to what you’re doing. It’s almost like giving someone your heart and having them crush it underfoot. Through my teens and twenties I pursued my goal, playing in a variety of bands on the “Queen St. West” circuit in Toronto. I even had my own band at one point. In the late 1980’s I became disillusioned and decided pursue a “real” career. I never did become a rock star.

I brought my dreams of rock stardom with me when I became a follower of Christ in 1995. I don’t mean that I tried to become a Christian rock star, but I had no other way to “frame” music, and I came to Jesus in my broken state – insecure, unsure of who I was, hungry for love – not even sure what “love” meant. My pursuit of love and acceptance was tightly bound up with music and performance. I “got” the concept that our gifts are from God and we are to use them to bring Him glory, but intellectual understanding wasn’t what I needed. What I needed was heart surgery. The cure for my broken, desperate heart could never be found in the approval of others. Even if my pursuit of stardom all those years ago had been successful, it wouldn’t have made any difference. The more I looked to God for my sense of value and worth, the more sure of this I became.

Yesterday morning when I played my songs at church, I felt so thankful for the opportunity to share what God has given me. Without His intervention in my life, I would never even have been there. I sat on the stage with my guitar, closed my eyes, and sang to and about my beautiful Jesus. It wasn’t a perfect “performance”; I was nervous; I’m not a professional worship leader or a trained public speaker – but somehow the Lord took my imperfect offering and used it to bless the women there. I think that’s the essence of how God accomplishes His goals and plans. He prompts us to “step out of the boat” when we feel unsure, when we don’t have it all together, when we know we’re going to fall flat on our faces if He doesn’t show up – and He works through our weakness. That’s why God said to the apostle Paul, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness”. (2 Corinthians 12:9)

Even though it’s nice to be praised and appreciated by others for our talents, the issue of motivation is key. If my aim yesterday was to build myself up, to impress everyone with my music so that they’d compliment me, to make me feel “okay” about myself, that would’ve been sort of like an addict looking for their next “fix” – not that another hit of approval would make any difference in that case. If my aim was to share with others what God has given to me in order to bless them and bring Him glory, then I’m on the right track. I am learning more and more that it’s God’s approval I need. I’m learning, with His help, to live before an audience of One.

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