Music has always been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. I used to listen to songs about love (since that is what I was inadvertently looking for) that spoke of undying love and “that connection” that was there and couldn’t be broken. I grew up hearing older women talk about how they had men in their lives who would “always” be there and for whatever reason they had always reconnected with, no matter who they were involved with. I guess in my own ways I was looking for my “person” that I could have the same things with.
I would listen to music while I cleaned up, while I drove, while I cooked. It seems like every free moment I had was spent listening to songs that spoke of my brokenness. If the song was melancholy and spoke of something that was missing, it was on repeat. So were my thoughts. My thoughts were on repeat of my past. I constantly thought of what happened to me as a child, the things I missed in high school, the boy that left, the parents that were absent, etc. The list went on and on and ALL of the thoughts were from my past! All of them!
I wanted love and acceptance that didn’t leave when we had a bad day. A love that didn’t get angry and hold it against me for days. I would belch the lyrics of the songs that made my brokenness acceptable. These lyrics spoke personally to shattered heart. My absent parents. My fatherless children. My empty bank account. When I would get high, I would allow the drugs to encompass my senses until the pain dulled. It never went away, but it was bearable because my heart didn’t have to hurt during those hours that I was intoxicated. I was filled temporarily with a strength that felt like I was made of steel and while it kept the emotions at bay, it wouldn’t allow anything good to come in either. I was not joyful or happy, I was either faking happiness or consumed by something that was going to be a filler for actually being okay. Those were my moods.
The kaleidoscope that I used was tinted with my pain. It only showed the pictures that I had stored up of my past. It did not see possibility for the future because I was replaying all of the images from the past. The direction that I turned the kaleidoscope in was always towards my past. The colors were dark—deep blues, dark red, tinted greens—those were the colors that I chose to see. Music was the key that opened the door labeled “past” for me. I loved that room. It was home, it was comfortable and it was all I knew.
What I loved most about smoking was the inhaling and exhaling of the nicotine. I loved the fact that it dulled my senses. I can look back now and see it was a “sitting place” for my pain. It seemed as if as soon as I picked it up, I grabbed a chair and went into my place of pain. The drugs made me feel in control. While I was intoxicated, I felt strong, I felt like I could face anything. My favorite statement used to be –“It is what it is.” The intoxication gave me this false sense strength that in reality was self-pity and acceptance that things would always be the way that they were.
I loved how the lyrics boasted of having sex, cursing, getting drunk/high and finding yourself in places the next morning and not being able to remember what happened. I would literally listen to those songs over and over again, screaming my favorite parts not knowing that those words were being embedded into my spirit and pushing me farther away from God.
The sin seared through my veins. I loved it. As much I hated the struggle, I loved feeling in control of my life. The music and melodies told me that -this is just the way that life is. Smoke it-drink it-sleep with him for money-sleep with him even though you know he has slept with such and such—it doesn’t matter if he has a condom-it feels better this way—But the songs—the songs say that this is what we do—the songs sing my life –the lyrics are speaking to me. There’s no way that they are wrong.
The music told me that my viewpoint was fine. The music sang the songs of the struggles of generations and mothers and fathers and violence and death. The music told the stories of drugs -cooking it, making it, selling it, –but this was my life. These were the things that I was doing, so it had to be okay to sing the songs, right?
“I know the Lord will make a way. I pray that the Lord makes a way. Lord let this come through for me. Lord let this check go through. Lord let this man call me so I can go get some money to pay this bill.”
That was the extent of my prayer life. I did not open my bible. I did not attend church often, I just assumed that the Lord either didn’t hear me or didn’t care. The only Holy Spirit I knew was the one who made the old women in church pass out or dance, I didn’t want Him. I mean, what would people think if I was singing all loud or dancing and shouting. I mean, like why would I do that? What would people say about me?
Because God knows who we are even in our mother’s wombs, he gave me the gift of loving words and writing them. He knew the life I would live, much like God knew the life that Jesus would live, when he placed him inside of Mary’s womb. He knew exactly how He wanted the message that He would give me to be written, so He gave me the LOVE of writing and words so that when it came time to tell my story, to tell what he has done for me, it would come out just the way He wanted it to come from ME. He knew the choices that I would make, the experience that I would have that would take me years to talk about, but only minutes to write! Isn’t that amazing?
When I was ready he began to send voices that I could “hear” and that would place me in places that I was able to hear what different people were saying about who God was. These people spoke directly to MY heart.
I stumbled upon a Hillsong Album after hearing one of their songs in a church service at The Gathering Oasis church where I attend. I remember walking down the aisle to receive prayer while they were worshipping to a song called “Oceans.” It was the very first time I had been bold enough to walk down the aisle and ask for prayer. The songs I were singing were no longer working, the nicotine didn’t have the same affect anymore and I was still hurting. No matter how much I smoked and how many red bulls I drank, there was something missing inside of me.
As I began to listen to sermons that my pastor preached using words like grace, mercy, purge, surrender, anoint, Holy Spirit, obedience and provision took on a new light for me.
Something began to happen.
My kaleidoscope began to change colors and pictures.
Now in the car I was listening to these songs whose lyrics spoke of the love that Jesus has for us. I began to be compelled to be different and better in a way that I had never before. The shapes changed and the patterns were somehow different.
I began to see that there was a magnitude of love that was just for me. I had my own door. It was mine. Jesus has already paid the price for it on the cross. I didn’t have to earn it. I didn’t have to wait hours for Him to calm down and still love me, it was reserved for me.
Discovering His love was the like discovering the water fountain that sits by the restroom- you never see it until you’re thirsty one day.
I didn’t know what Grace was until I decided that I needed to know that I was capable of receiving what was already given to me! I didn’t know what provision was until I allowed Him to provide for me. I didn’t know what surrender was until I laid it all down and said, “Have your way Lord” Truly.
As my logical mind struggled to make sense of these emotions and keep my kaleidoscope on the past pattern, the Holy Spirit continued to keep calling me telling me, “Its time daughter, it’s time to let it go”
I found myself saying, “But what will I do now that I am no longer angry?”
I wanted to change, I knew that I needed to change, but old patterns die hard. My kaleidoscope wanted to stay where it was, it didn’t want to have brighter colors and beautiful promises of the future, it wanted to “pretend” to be better, but keep the same pictures on reserve, just in case this “Jesus thing” fell through.
2 Chronicles 28:20 says, “Be strong and courageous, do the work. Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord God, my God, is with you. He will not fail you or forsake you until all the work for the services of the temple of the Lord is finished.”
What other proof do we need to see that we do not need a backup plan for Jesus?
Now that I was allowing the Holy Spirit to dwell within me, the choices that I made in music were changing. The lyrics that I used to listen to no longer appealed to my sense as they had in the past.
Lyrics like, “Faith makes a fool of what makes sense”
“I found my life when I laid it down.”
“I touched the sky when my knees hit the ground”
..began to minister to my heart and I wanted more. I was finally feeling something rather than pain. Well let me be clear—I was still in pain, but I was surrendering that pain to Jesus the only one who could fill me up and I poured out the pain. At church, the corporate worship soothed my soul, the love I would feel brought tears to my eyes (on another blog I’ll talk about how I went years without ever crying) The drugs had never done this! I began to actually enjoy church because as a new believer, I didn’t know how to create that atmosphere at home yet.
Always a writer, I began to unload on Jesus like never before. I would write pages and pages of stuff, that I wanted Him to know. I was choosing to study the bible, listen in church and use the people in the bible as my guides to how I was supposed to live life. I began to worship in the car, while I was cleaning up, while I was cooking. My children were staring at me asking me, “Why do you Love God so much now?”
As my heart decluttered I began to make room for the Holy Spirit to develop a relationship with me. How amazing is that?
So I get to 1 of only 2 concerts that I had ever attended in my life and I am completely humbled by this group of people (Hillsong United) serving Jesus. There’s no fancy glorious introductions or fanfare, they sang humbly to the crowd,
“The prince of peace came and broke into my heart.”
Much like the nicotine and alcohol used to intoxicate me, the presence of God was now in full effect! I knew without a shadow of doubt that He was there! I knew that we had gathered together and we had called, and He being the gracious God that He is, had shown up!
As I found myself trying to record the musicians and sing at the same time, the Holy Spirit said to me, “Why are you trying to record this moment, when you are here in it.”
It showed me that I had achieved what I had been waiting for on my journey of living for Jesus.
He spoke to me because He is always there. I could hear Him in my heart. Despite the crowd. Despite the music. I had heard Him speak to me.
As I sang with the crowd and soaked in every moment. The lights, the music, the crowd—I realized that although these were the same songs that I had listened to on repeat for the past year, they sounded different. I don’t know if it was because the lyrics were on the screen or that they were literally only a few feet away from me—but it all sounded brand new.
Verses like, “here I am at your feet again, reaching out I surrender” filled me with so much love I thought I would burst open!!
It was in that moment standing there in 100-degree weather, very sweaty, feet hurting, heart full that I felt the full love of God. I realized that we were not separated by color, socioeconomic status, or anything else. We were one body standing in agreement that we wanted to serve God. We agreed that we wanted to live for Him.
I had imagined that when I finally bought a house, or when I paid my car off, or when I finally got married that I would feel completely filled up but I was wrong. In that moment, I had a glimpse of what it would be like to completely live for Him and be filled up in His presence.
So stood there sweating and crying, both of them mixing together in salty love for Jesus. I no longer had any type of doubt in my heart that he was real and alive. Nothing had changed from the moment I walked into the concert and the time I had been standing there, but I was changed.
That was it!! It was the feeling I had been searching for!
My kaleidoscope had forever been changed. I knew that if I trusted Him he was going to finish the work that he started in me. I knew that if I let go of what I thought I needed or wanted and allowed Him to use me for His glory that His desires would be manifested into my heart. Everything that I had looked for in a friend, man, woman, job or car had been found in HIM.
I realized that because of my life, I had chosen to see the pictures that I wanted to see in MY kaleidoscope instead of using God’s kaleidoscope to see life. And even though I had always known that my perspective would change before my life did, I realized that when I was looking through my own lens, I was more likely to leave situations feeling offended, angry and upset because I wasn’t looking at God’s heart or my own in those situations.
Now that I knew how to use his kaleidoscope, I knew that I would finally begin to walk in the Purpose that He had for me. J