Wednesday, November 12, 2014

The Stories Behind the Songs: Now I Know My Father's Love

I took piano lessons as a kid. Who didn't? I loved my first teacher, Mrs. Wright. She came to our house.  She had beautiful swooping handwriting and a quiet voice. We all loved her.

Then we moved. My new teacher, whom I shall call Mrs. P., was high strung and demanding. I had to go to her house, and her small children played in the other room with a babysitter. My lesson ended at close to dinnertime, and by then everyone was on edge--the kids, the babysitter, the teacher and the student. And every time I hit a wrong key, I heard, "No!"

That's all I remember about Mrs. P----an unhappy woman who was demanding and unforgiving.

That is what I carried with me my whole life when it came to the arts, whether it was the piano, clarinet, guitar, voice or acting.

I was also a very insecure child. I don't know why. I just was.

A terrible combination.

In fifth grade, the chorus I was in had tryouts for solo parts. I was deathly afraid of singing solo in public, and I didn't want to audition. But my friend talked me into it. I figured that I had to audition to get into the chorus and I didn't die, so maybe this wouldn't kill me either.

The room was packed with little girls (and probably some boys) hoping to earn the coveted solo spot. Not me, but I had no choice. I couldn't turn back. I went to the front of the room, opened my mouth and someone else's voice came out. It didn't sound anything like me! I found out that day that in addition to a "chest" voice and a "head" voice, I also had a "nervous" voice.

I didn't get the part. Thank God! My friend did. I remember watching her the night of the concert and was so struck by how confident she was. I didn't have that. I was happy to blend in.

But there was always a part of me that didn't want to blend in. A part that wanted to be heard. A part that wanted to create and share and soar and be noticed. But I had no confidence. 

25 years later I found myself in the same spot. I was singing in the church choir, really enjoying my night out for rehearsal. But I still had no confidence. And I was still very insecure, even though I had given my life to Jesus. By now I had "issues" that were heaped on to my insecurity---my parents' divorce, personal breakups, a marriage that wasn't so great and years of being mocked and criticized by people that I took to heart.

I really believed that I couldn't sing. I was so insecure that I remember going out to the bathroom once during rehearsal and on the way to the bathroom thinking that the rest of the choir was talking about how bad I was but allowing me to stay because that's the "Christian thing to do." Of course, none of this was the case. Try telling that to an insecure person.

At this time, I rediscovered my dusty piano. I loved the worship music at church and wanted to worship at home. So I tried playing hymns from the hymnal. That didn't work so well. Hymns all seem to be written in keys like Eb. I couldn't play songs with all those black keys. 

So I found praise books. I tried playing the songs I heard in church, but it was slow and tedious because I had a hard time reading music. I was frustrated because I could feel this tension inside me...a longing, a desire to worship the Lord through song. Something welling up inside me that was screaming to get out. My fingers wanted to dance on the keys, but were instead paralyzed. 

Then I discovered the guitar chords on top of the music staff...could I play those instead of reading the music?

This opened up a whole new world for me. I realized that I could play by ear and improvise. My piano playing went to a whole new level. 

I've always loved writing, and even as a kid, I wrote songs. The ones I wrote in high school were dark and depressing. But now, even as I was learning and playing, songs started coming...songs about God's love, forgiveness, goodness, blessing and promises.  Modern-day psalms. Like the psalms in the bible, my songs often started out describing the pain, the fear or the darkness I felt, but always turned into a praise.

I sat at my piano long into the nighttime hours when everyone was asleep (it was in the basement) praising God for who He is and for his faithfulness. The more I played, the more I learned from the Holy Spirit.

One night I had a revelation:

As I poured out my heart, my insecurities, my fears and my paltry offerings of praise, He poured back into me His love, mercy, forgiveness...and even confidence. Even greater abilities...which I poured back to Him through worship.

It was a beautiful cycle that never ended and only got better and better.

I had confidence in Christ; therefore, I had confidence.

Through the gifts that God bestowed on me (along with some great support/recovery groups), I was healed of insecurity, hurt, the fear and pain of rejection, and so much more. 

Amazing! It was through my own gifts that He healed me. Did I say, Amazing!?

I came to understand the deep love of my Heavenly Father; a love so deep and wide and long and deep; a love that goes beyond any earthly love of any parent, spouse or any other deep love.

I finally understood my Father's Love. And this is what I wrote to and for Him (you may have already heard/seen this on Friday...or it may not open for you, if this blog was automatically emailed to you. If that's the case, you can open it here)

Blessings Along the Path,

sharing this post with Word Filled Wednesday, Coffee For Your Heart, Wholehearted Wednesday, A Little R&R, Wedded Wednesday


  1. Wow! What a beautiful voice you have, Mary! I'm so glad you stuck with it and even kept working at the piano problems. I took piano from a woman who sounded more like the 2nd teacher you had. So when "we" moved, I begged my mom not to get a new teacher for me. Now I regret that my mother listened to me! I've always loved music and I'm no soloist, but I do find such joy in singing worship songs in our church. But back to your thoughts here, my friend! I'm so glad that you have not just persevered musically but spiritually. God really can gives us a whole new perspective on ourselves and our lives. I often pray for my sons to learn to be secure enough in God's confidence that they can be humble in how they relate to others. It's all so tied together and it seems you have found the right "pitch" and "focus" in your inspiring walk with the Lord! Thanks so much for sharing!

  2. I loved your story and your courage in sharing it here for all of us! We can be so influenced by one comment or one impression when we are young which then controls all of our thoughts about that one area for life unless it is proved wrong. God stepped in and proved to you that music is a gift and now you are sharing it. This post was so powerful and important for all to remember that we can do all through Christ who gives us strength. Hugs and blessings!

  3. Absolutely, Mary! God truly is amazing. Your story was similar in that we believed the lies. But perhaps you knew Jesus earlier than I did and was able to lean on those promises and truths at a younger age. But it's all good because God uses it all! Blessings.

  4. That is amazing! I was that same girl at solos but really enjoyed duets because my voice blended with theirs. :) I know what you mean about gifts changing. I always enjoyed writing, but it never came together until I started my blog this year. God honors our efforts at obeying Him!