As a gift, I received from my daughter a little book called, What I Love About Mom. They set up a sentence and she had to fill in the blanks.I had a good chuckle over a few of them –If you were a scent, you’d be Warm Ocean Breeze–but one of her responses took my breath away.
“I love the sound of your voice when you sing.”
When I’m alone, I am a reckless singer. Add to that, I am largely a closet singer unless I happen to be worshipping with a large crowd of other sincere but not necessarily in-tune singers.
But there was one other time I’d sing solo and aloud. And when I read those words she’d written, I was transported back to the tiny living room of a 90-year-old farmhouse, in the center of seventy acres of soybean fields.
I am mother to an 8-year-old daughter, whom I had been homeschooling after being fired from my job for talking about faith at work. My coworker was also fired. Several months later, the husband left, threatening to take my daughter away. She’s the reason I bother holding together.
I barely know anyone because we’d moved to the area from another state just a few years before. We’d been attending a new congregation. I have no job, no savings, no financial resources, a 20-year old car, and winter is looming. I am scared out of my mind.
My “relationship” with God is new, and I don’t know what to do. But a phrase sticks in my head, “God inhabits the praises of His people.” Maybe it’s a message from the divine. I never had to trust in God this way before, and I don’t have other options.
My daughter is precious to me after giving up my first child for adoption. I do not want to lose her. At this time of my life, not much makes sense anymore–least of all the conventional–and if singing is going to usher in the Almighty, I could sure use Him in my corner to help me figure out a few things. Most of all, how am I going to get through this?
So instead of crying, complaining and partnering with the negative fear talk that threatens to take me down every day, I do the one thing that seems completely and utterly ridiculous.
I stand in the front room of the farmhouse and sing worship songs at the top of my lungs. I sing like my life depends on it. I sing on days that my daughter’s there and on days when she’s not there. I sing the songs that speak of good things to come, that call out for Him to answer me, that remind me He is always with me. And I sing until I no longer feel afraid.
What does this mean for you?
It would have been very easy to fall down the rabbit hole of fear, to buy into the lie that my life was over and a hundred other negative comments that swirled around me. But I would not give them my voice.
Of course, it’s hard to say exactly how much the singing had to do with how we survived those years, but. And we had tough days. We had a lot of them. When they came, I’d say with all the confidence I could muster, “It isn’t always going to be like this.”
I think she wanted to believe that as much as I did.
“One day, we’ll buy our own food from any store we want (instead of the food pantry.) One day, we’ll take a vacation somewhere that we choose (not with family because our budget is thin.) One day, we’ll buy our clothes wherever we want and not even look at the tag (instead of the thrift store.) One day I’ll pay cash for a brand new car (because I’ve always had older, used cars. I am still holding out for that one.) None of the things I worried about happened: I didn’t become homeless, fall between the cracks of society or lose my daughter, and those were in my head playing on a continuous loop. I didn’t let those fears stop me from living my life, making memories with my daughter or taking even more chances. Or even wanting and expecting more from life. I wasn’t paralyzed with fear.
I didn’t have a well-formed network; I had no family nearby that could help. I hung on to every single blessing that came my way, and there were hundreds. Most of those blessings were people through which came opportunities. Instead of being afraid to entertain them, afraid to implement them, I took chances. I understood them to be open doors leading somewhere, and I said yes.
I left the farmhouse for a city house–another blessing. We saw God show up in impossible, silly, unconventional situations. He made a way when there seemed to be no way. He didn’t always answer the way I thought He would, but He did answer.
What about you?
Is fear trying to choke the life out of you right now? What thing in your life has you shaking? Maybe you can’t even talk about it, but it rolls around in your head on those nights you can’t sleep. Who’s in your corner?
Recently I said to my daughter, “Look how far we’ve come!” And she said, “Far!”
I don’t often look back at those singing days. My daughter remembers it as a special time. But, I’m still here. I believe I’m stronger for it. And you will be too when you get to the other side of it. And, you’ll have a great story to tell or a song to write. Bank on that.