I read a book recently in which the main character was a piano student. Her teacher forced her to learn hymns so that the words would be rooted deep in her heart for use at an appropriate time. The girl became a prodigal daughter of sorts and through her wanderings, her mistakes, and her pain, those words would spring up in her head and she couldn't push them out. They flooded her rebellious and hurting heart with Truth.
I totally get it. Music permeates - it has a way of getting right to one's soul, cutting out the superfluous. It has been doing this to me lately, and I admit I don't always like it.
Singing on the worship team at my church is a privilege and something I really enjoy. But it is not always easy to get up week after week and sing songs. Don't get me wrong, I absolutely love it and I love Jesus - I feel called to proclaim the Gospel to people in this way and wouldn't change it. But oh, there are days when it is tough.
Within two weeks of losing our first baby I was back there, standing in front of my brothers and sisters in Christ, singing. Some days it's hard to get the words out.
There was one Sunday, I believe after our second loss, I cried during a song we were singing in the choir. And let me tell you, there are few things more miserable than crying on stage and not being able to do anything about it. That song spoke to my broken heart.
There are also Sundays where those songs are a balm, a banner over me, promises from God. Those days the songs are my hope and I cling to those words of encouragement. Those days the songs are reminders of God's provision and his love, that He is able to do immeasurably more than what we ask. And those are great Sundays!
Then there are Sundays, like Mother's Day, when I just don't even go there. I give myself some grace and don't sing.
Lately, I have been surprised by my emotions. At my last counseling session, after we had talked about several things, my therapist asked me how my heart was doing. As I answered I began to cry - I had been forced to show my cards. Then at my MEND meeting last night I was an absolute mess. I see that under the surface, the waters of my heart are murky and unsettled. I have been doing a bit of treading water - keeping my head above what is below. I have been doing well, really, but I think I have been neglecting the tough stuff a bit too much. My due date for our second baby is June 30th. Father's Day was this month. We are close to getting more medical testing done. Sometimes our story is overwhelming to me. There's the waiting. My hope is a bit deflated. And there's the longing.
Then tonight. Tonight we rehearsed for this Sunday morning, a day I have already been expecting to be more emotionally challenging than most. We sang those Jesus songs. And I felt like I was singing the words but crossing my arms, not wanting to hear them.
"The enemy, he has to leave. At the sound of Your great name."
Yeah. Yeah. Seems to me like the enemy is not leaving. Seems to me like he is camping out at my house, having a flipping hay day.
Bratty, I know. Hearing truth, but not wanting to hear it, because really I wasn't feeling it. Internally I was covering my ears and shaking my head, working to drown out the noise of the words that felt a bit like a personal affront.
But those words. They permeate. I can't sing them and not think about at least some of them, even though I might not want to. The truth is God is Redeemer, He is Healer, He is our Savior, Defender, Lord Almighty. I know that even when I might not feel it, He is.
Later in rehearsal we sang another song with a line that said,
"[He] knocks outside my broken heart till I let Him inside."
That's it. The words pierced again. There He is. Knocking. In my heartbroken state, He is knocking. Waiting. Even in my anger, even when my flesh screams that it's not fair. Even when I shake my head at those words, not wanting to hear them. He is knocking on my broken heart.
And I have to decide. Even though I have no guarantees that things will go my way, do I let Him in? Or do I only open the door when there is a celebration going on inside? Is He allowed to come in only on those days? Or is He allowed to come in when my house is a wreck and my face is tear-stained and I might be angry? I don't think God walks in and pretends like the pain is gone, forcing us to move on to other things. I think He comes into the living room, sits down on the couch and grieves with us. He knows there is a time to mourn and a time to dance. He is our comforter. Because even when I might not feel it, He is.
When I don't let Him in, He is still there, waiting. And when I let Him in, He gives me space. He gives me room to lament. I may not always feel like singing those songs, but He understands that. As Sarah Bessey says, "There is room in the Psalms for your grief." God is near to the broken-hearted. The celebratory days are good, but the other days - that's when the hard work gets done. That's when the words can really pierce the heart and force us to examine ourselves. The words can wash over us and speak Truth. That's when we hear God knocking, waiting. That's when we have to make a decision.
I may not always feel like singing the songs, but I think that is when I need to sing them the most.