She asks what form of creativity or expression makes my breath quicken and my knuckles grip white. She questions if I force myself to overcome, or do I hide within myself, unexpressed?
I don't have to think long. I love to sing!
I grew up with music all around. My mom whistles like a songbird, sometimes so piercingly high it hurts the ears. My sisters and I complained when we were small. We had no appreciation for her gift, at times were embarrassed. Now I worship when I listen, and wonder at the brilliance of a sound she has perfected over the years, but must surely come from heavenly places.
Mom sings with her vocals too. Like she was born to. We laughed when she said she dreamed of being a soprano in the opera one day. We couldn't imagine our hard-working, floor-scrubbing, bread-baking, Bible-reading, fun-loving mother dressed in velvets belting drama in a foreign language.
Her love for singing was a gift from my grandfather who continually crooned old-timey melodies while he worked his garden or drove the logs he cut to the mill. My favorite was, Down by the Old Cherry Orchard. Sometimes I get lost in the light of childhood days and soak warm in words stretched wide across a whiskery smile.
It was a happy day when Pap-pap yodeled. Oh, could he yodel! We giggled, and begged him to, "Do it again!" until his voiced would crack and he had to rest up for another time.
I learned to play piano, and my grandfather turned family visits into old-fashioned hymn sings. He stood looking over, resting one lumber-rough hand on my shoulder and the other turning pages while he sang in a beautiful tenor the songs he grew up on. He didn't mind when I stumbled over the keys choppy, or hit a note awry. His honeyed croons covered my mistakes, and together we made beautiful music--harmonies that linger sweet in my archives.
I tried to sing too, at the piano, in my room, outside under the trees and in car-rides with the family, all four of us girls crammed together in the back seat of our Pontiac, or sometimes in the front beside my mom because I was the oldest.
I sang. And she laughed. She said I couldn't hit the notes or stay on key. My sister 18 months younger chimed agreement. Glad to find a flaw in my drive for perfection, she had no problem gliding along mom's melodies.
I learned early to stay quiet. To be seen and not heard. To stuff my songs in the dark places of my heart where I stood guard militantly lest one should escape and bring shame. I believed I couldn't, shouldn't sing. So I didn't. I just mouthed the words silent and sullen.
Years later, I found a friend, another songbird who poured love songs to Jesus. She encouraged me to do the same. For five years a group of us came together like a family to worship. We praised the King with our laughter, our fellowship, our prayers and our voices.
At first, I was petrified, white-knuckled and gasping for breath, hopelessly trying to catch the notes, struggling just to hear them, and not knowing how to translate or speak what was buried so deep within. But God.
He sent light into those dark places through the love of friends, through the love of His Son. I learned to soak full in His Spirit. I learned to listen quiet for His voice. I learned I was created to sing the song He had written inside.
And I discovered that as soon as I turned from me, from my insecurity and all the lies I had believed, to focus on the One who loved me so well, who made me unique to give Him glory just by being, singing--when I sang for Him--I could sing!
I sing! My girls still make fun of me. They don't like my music. They don't like my songs. They don't like my devotion to Someone they can't see. But they are young. And I have been assured that one day their songs will break free and give glory to the King.
I have it on good Authority as well, that He likes my offerings. (smile)
Whatever it is that causes your breath to quicken and your knuckles to grip white give it to God, and let Him make something beautiful. You were born to shine His light. You were created to sing!
“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven."
~ The words of Jesus, Matthew 5:14-16 (NIV)
Today is the final day in my Days of Light series. Thank you for joining me to light candles in words to highlight the Coming of our Lord as celebrated by some in Advent and The Festival of Lights.
Day 1: Walk in Light
Day 2: Almond Tree
Day 3: Incandescence
Day 5: This Night
Day 6: Gift of Light
Day 7: Your Face
I am joining Emily and other singers today for Imperfect Prose. Won't you join us?
Also, please consider visiting Exquisite Grace where I got my inspiration for this post, and where the light of God's beauty and grace abound.
Photo Courtesy: flikr - Kassia