This past week has been the most extreme in regards to my spiritual life and my opinions on worship and the church (as a community of believers). A week ago today I was in Waco and crying tears of repentance and joy. I had forgotten or just sinned and had allowed my pride to get the best of me for the better part of my 31 years of life.
I knew going into the conference that I was more broken than I had ever been. These past few months have been an emotional roller coaster--completing my degree, Jill's battle with ALS, struggles at work, family issues, Molly's struggles with school, struggles at church (relax everything's fine please don't jump to crazy conclusions), emotional struggles, struggles with students, anxiety, pride--you name it, I thought I had dealt with it all.
I was trying so desperately to be all things to all people, in essence to be their Jesus, that somewhere along the way I forgot that I'm not a god or their savior.
A week ago Thursday I was listening to Francis Chan expose his personal struggles with pride--and his image of the angels praising God in Heaven and his pride wanting to distract those angels and the believers and turning the attention on himself. How disgusting that is, and yet we ALL are that way.
Enter first sobbing session of the event.
I was so upset with myself, upset with the church (as a community of believers--not my church), upset with how we conduct worship these days--worship of ourselves and these idols that control our lives.
I felt so ashamed, so sad, so broken, so much agony. I spent the majority of that weekend in self-reflection on myself as a musician and worship leader, my job and how best to teach my students, my pride and how it affects me, and my heart for the broken.
My heart breaks for the broken. I kept hearing whispers of that word--broken. That I needed to help the broken. That I would be there for the broken. That I would share joy with the broken. I referenced this on my blog Sunday morning.
I stood with my hands high and tears streaming down my face and I knew that I had to do one thing:
I would communicate the love of Jesus through song.
I sobbed at the end of Louie Giglio's talk--crying about how my heart was so heavy with everything and how I had just about had enough--and I wanted to do whatever it took to serve Him. That I would lay it all on the line--I would put aside all my fears, insecurities, my pride--I just wanted to serve. I wanted to communicate that love, that joy, that assurance, through song.
Sobbing that I was so ridiculously "cosmically insignificant" and yet He desired my praise. He wanted to hear my song. He created me to sing.
All my life I believed this in my gut--that there was something more incredible about music than other forms of worship.
And when we were asked over and over at the conference "why do we sing?" I could only say, "I sing because I breathe." I can't separate the two in my mind. I don't know how to do anything else--I have to sing.
Every speaker and every performer talked about lament.
I felt it stirring, I felt a connection, and my heart was in such agony and I didn't know why.
I thought it was all about me.
I was so wrong. So incredibly wrong.
I thought God was fixing me.
I had no clue He was preparing me (and my fellow students) for the most broken experience of our lives.
We arrived back in Greenville on Saturday night, attended church on Sunday morning, and then the worst thing imaginable happened at my school. I'm sure you've heard the news, seen the reports, heard the rumors.
It's really, really, really bad.
President Perkins called me on Sunday afternoon and asked me to prepare music for the chapel on Monday morning. He said, "Prepare whatever you would normally do for a funeral service."
I felt like the breath had been knocked out of me. I immediately opened my Bible and searched for words of inspiration. I read and read and reread all of my notes I had hastily scrawled in my journal over the weekend. I prayed and listened to God. I listened to worship music. I called Mike and asked him to play--and then went to work my set list.
But, instead of being scared, I was strong.
Please do not misunderstand what I am saying here.
I, little Amanda, was not strong. Amanda was a ball of emotion.
But, I have a God who walked with me through this week. When it was time for me to lead worship, I did not have crazy heart flutters, upset stomach, or fear. I had a message to share with people. He spoke through me. I barely remember any of it.
That is not me. If you know me well, you know I'm a teary emotional mess.
But, for the first time in my life I was able to truly separate the emotions I was experiencing and was able to completely focus on the task at hand.
To communicate the love of Jesus through song to my broken community.
It's not about me. Not one bit. It never has been and it never will be.
I prepared the best I could on my end--I spent countless moments in prayer, worship, and thanksgiving. I cried a lot of tears, I begged Him for strength, and I felt like I was in a fog.
But, for the first time ever, I am free.
I'm ashamed it took something so incredibly tragic for me to come to this conclusion.
But, my God makes beautiful things out of the dust.
I will never be the same.