There are a few things in my life that really make me smile. I am not talking about things like a cold Dr. Pepper at two in the afternoon in all of its 23-flavored glory or walking into work late to find my boss elsewhere, unaware of my tardy transgression. These things certainly make me happy (especially the Dr. Pepper, because, seriously, I. Love. Dr. Pepper), but this is not the kind of happiness that I am talking about.
I am talking about those instances, people, or activities in life that truly satisfy you. The stuff that goes beyond the fleeting feeling of temporary (but total) satisfaction that I get as the cold DP enters my face hole and makes me say “Ahhhh” as it makes its way down my esophagus. It’s true. I say “Ahhhh” just like the freaking commercial. THAT IS JUST THE AWESOME THAT IS DR. PEPPER.
Don’t judge me.
Anyway, I am fortunate to have many people in my life who make my life wonderful. I have Bones, my crazy but all together awesome children, good friends, and an awesome church. Today, however, I want to focus on the one thing in my life that has been my constant companion through every struggle and triumph that I have experienced in life. It is non-judgmental and has the power to change my mood almost instantly. That’s right, Internet. Music.
Music is one of the few things that everyone loves. It is universal, transcending culture, gender, race or any other issue that might divide us from one another. You might not like the metal, screamo, or alternative rock that makes me squee with joy, but I know beyond any shadow of a doubt you do, in fact, love music. Perhaps it is Bach or Beethoven that gets you going. Maybe it is Lady Gaga or Glambert. Perhaps for some unknown reason you like hearing about people who hate themselves and sing about their dead dog, so you listen to country music (Even though I have no idea why anyone would ever listen to country music. For the love of everything holy, what is up with that?).
The point is that everyone loves music and why wouldn’t we? It makes us feel good. It stirs up significant memories, both good and bad. It is simply the most amazing and universal art form that exists. I would venture to say that I enjoy music more than most. In fact, I can say beyond any shadow of a doubt that music is one of the principle driving forces and most important aspects of my life. It is my constant companion throughout my day. I listen in the car, at work, at home, doing schoolwork, when I work out (however sparse these proposed work-out times might be), and basically any other time that I am doing anything that doesn’t require intense concentration on human interaction.
My favorite aspect of music goes beyond listening. The ability to write and make music with my friends brings me more joy than anything else in my life (Not including the fam because that goes without saying…But I said it anway). It is amazing to be able to have a medium to express myself that brings me and those around me so much joy.
Well, this post is really just a shout out to music. So here goes…
HEY MUSIC! I just wanted to say that I love you. And I would have your babies if I could…
Too fast? Yeah? Oh, sorry, music…I am usually much more reserved. You know, nothing too weird or anything.
What? No no no. Of course that isn’t a picture pulled from your facebook in my wallet…
Wait don’t go! Seriously, I am not stalking you…
HEY! You are walking the wrong way! You parked on the third level of parking garage C in space 176 beside the concrete support that says Eric and Leveta forever…
Don’t give me that horrified look! Everyone with high-powered binoculars and a GPS tracker knows these things…
Have you ever felt like the entire weight of your world is sitting squarely on you shoulders? For the last two days or so, I have just felt heavy (insert fat jokes here). I can’t explain origin of the feeling, however, several things over the last few days have added to this unexplainable heaviness that is making my shoulders sag.
First, let me say that I really hate this. I am not a depressed person. I love life. I have an amazing Savior, a wonderful family, a decent job, an amazing group of friends, and I have music, so this whole “depressed” feeling is new territory for me. I have a lot on my plate between college, work, family, church, and my other responsibilities, but these are nothing new. They haven’t caused me to step into my phone booth to emerge as the Emo Avenger before now, so the question that I ask myself is why now? What flipped this switch in my life that is leaving me in this depressed state rivaling that of a little emo girl pining after Edward from Twilight? I can’t pinpoint the source, but I do have a few ideas regarding the subtle beginnings of this sad state in which I am currently engulfed.
My first issue stems from the fact that I have a huge desire to please people. I am aware that this is not a good thing, but for whatever reason, it is a huge part of the make-up of my wonderful personality. I have said in the past that I don’t care about what people think, which is true to a certain extent. For example, I truly couldn’t care less about what people say about the way I dress. I dress so that I am comfortable while being situationally appropriate. I don’t care about what people think of what car I drive or anything else that exists on a superficial level. I don’t put too much stock into material possessions, anyway. However, I care strongly about what people think regarding the pursuits that hold an important place in my life.
My writing is one of those pursuits. I truly care what people think about my ability to write, the subject matters that I choose to write on, my delivery, etc, because I love to write. To me, writing is cathartic. I use my writing to express those things in my heart that I cannot verbally express either due to the inability to articulate what I want to say, or due to a lack of courage to broach a sensitive subject face-to-face with another human being. It opens up new doors into my inner person that I have trouble delving into in thought alone. This is much what I am attempting to do with this particular post.
You see, music is also one of the things that is vitally important to my life. Without my tunes, I am a lost puppy. I usually have my iPod or a radio going as long as it is appropriate to the current situation in which I find myself. The pursuit of music is the biggest aspiration for my life outside of my pursuit for Christ-likeness. It would be my dream to be able to support my family by playing my guitar and singing. This is an aspiration that even has some merit as I am currently the interim worship leader at my church. This has been an amazing blessing, but I take everything to heart. If someone complains about the music, I feel like they are attacking me. This boils down to my feelings of inferiority that are deeply seeded within me. Honestly, I just don’t feel like I am good enough to do what I am doing, but God has been faithful and he has been moving to make me a better worship leader. It has been a fun journey, but whenever I experience the slightest setback, it makes me feel like I am starting over at step one once again.
Three weeks ago, we had an AWESOME music service, or at least that is what I thought. I am definitely into the more contemporary, younger style of worship music. I love Hillsong United, David Crowder, Chris Tomlin, Deluge, Desperation band, Michael Gungor, and much of the new worship music that is coming out now. Unfortunately, the church that I lead worship for isn’t quite as current on the new musical trends as I am. I like to push the envelope. Screaming electric guitar belongs in a worship setting. I don’t care whether you agree or not. If you condemn any worship style that leads people to the throne of God, then you are wrong. However, I am not so blinded and self-absorbed to completely ignore the preference of others. It is my job to ensure that everyone that attends our church on any given Sunday morning has the opportunity to worship is a semi-comfortable style. We aren’t going back to piano and organ, but perhaps I am pushing the congregation to quickly to where I see the future of the ministry.
Anyway, to make an already long story a bit longer, I walked off the stage after the music had concluded and I was on the proverbial cloud nine. I sat down next to my beautiful wife and asked her how the music was, as that is my custom every Sunday morning. She said it was awesome. I asked one of my closest confidants. She said the music was great. We were a bit more rock and roll than is per our normal worship set, so I was stoked that it was well received. That is where I see the future of our music ministry. I walked out of church singing a sweet tune, having a good time, and generally just happy that God was able to use me once again in a positive way.
So the next day, I was off from my full-time job, so I decided to go put in some office time at the church. Upon arriving, I was still stoked. Then my senior pastor walks into my office and states pretty plainly, “Well, Jeremy, we had some complaints about the music yesterday.”
I was flabbergasted. I just couldn’t understand what the problem was. In retrospect, the style was a bit more upbeat, but I don’t think there is anything wrong with that. The thing that really just smashed my face was when I found out that several of the people, whom I love, respect, and regard highly, decided to go out into the foyer during the service and complain to another member about the music. At this point during the conversation with my pastor, I had moved from hurt and I had started to get mad. I listened to the rest of what Dwain had to say and then I began to stew.
It is funny how God works in my life. As I sat there, all riled up, I began to hear the still small voice of my loving God begin to try to break through the hurt and the anger. At first, I was resistant because Satan wanted me to be content in my rage and distract me from the prize. I was content to let him win at first, but the consistent call of love won out shortly after He began to call. So, before the ever-loving, always merciful face of God, I prayed. I asked what I had done wrong and what I needed to do differently. The answer I got was a bit coded, but made sense the more I meditated on it.
God simply reminded me that it isn’t about me. This is something that I apparently have to be reminded of all the time because I just can’t get it through my thick cranium. The verdict was that I was allowing myself to be wrapped up in all the negativity. Perhaps the sound was too loud. Maybe the songs were too upbeat for that particular morning. The overarching theme that God was (and still is) trying to beat into my brain is that this worship service has nothing to do with me. I don’t desire exaltation, but when people give you compliments about the music, it is hard not to become a little arrogant. A good friend told me last summer that every time that you receive glory, to simply say praise God in order to redirect the praise from yourself directly to Him, because He is deserving and I am not.
He also reassured me that this goes far beyond worship style, song choice, and instrumentation. It is all about the heart of worship, which is a heart that desires to be reconciled to the image of Jesus Christ more and more every second of every day. That is the call of discipleship.
This isn’t the only thing bothering, but seeing as how this post has become a novella, I had better put the rest on hold until later this week. Remember, God works in wonderful and mysterious ways even through our emo blues. Thanks for reading!
All for His glory.