This post is for those who once knew me as the girl who sang "Mercy Seat" and have asked me why I am not singing anymore. Still, even if you are not familiar with my background, please feel free to continue as I believe you could benefit from the message as well.
I'm sure I sound like a broken record to many people when I say, "You have the power to change your mind and your life", but it's true and it's worth repeating often. We need to remind ourselves that we are not a feather simply floating on the wind of life and whatever direction we blow in, must be the direction we're meant to go. I used to live this way and it gave me a great excuse as to why there was no change or transformation from my past or my present. My perfect excuse was, "I guess it's not meant to be", shrugging carelessly while secretly hurting and discouraged. Even though I lived in disappointment after disappointment, I never questioned my beliefs.
For most of my life, I was under the impression that I was not in control of my future, or my life. I believed that my life was sealed into a certain mold and to change it would be going against God's plan for my life, and at the time, everything about my journey always led towards singing.
However, singing or the songs I sang was never who I was.
It's unfortunate, but we all do it. We label people by what they do instead of learning who they are. Actors, musicians, artists, politicians, and anyone else who has been in the spotlight have faced ridicule if they are not the person we expect them to be. People shake their heads in disbelief, "unfollow" or "unfriend" them on social media, talk about it with their friends, and even write about it in blogs. It's the way the world is because most people don't like change.
I'm sure many have said things about me. I have even unintentionally heard others talk about me and why am I not singing. People have sent me private messages and have even told me that I've walked away from God. I am not going to judge these people. I'm sure many of them mean well. However, they are simply speaking from a lack of understanding of what truly matters in life.
I am extremely grateful that I was given the opportunity to touch many lives in the mid to late '90s. I will cherish those years for as long as I live. However, I can't stay there. As wonderful as those times were to me, that will always be a cherished memory.
What I have longed for the most in life, and during all my years in ministry, wasn't being on stage or leading worship, but connection. I have always longed for true meaningful friendships that went beyond whether I sang a song or not. I wanted people in my life who loved me for who I was and who valued me, not my gifts. So much emphasis is placed on what someone does rather than who they are. This continues to happen in many ways, not just church. Many deny it, but it's a fact and if you ask enough people they will agree. Your gift makes room for you, but what about relationship? What happens when building relationships mean more to you than using your gift?
All people really want is time. Time to express their interests, their hobbies, their desires, to be fun and carefree and to share about the people they love and admire. They want community and to be able to relate to one another, to trust, to find their "tribe" without judgments and criticisms. People just want to have a cup of coffee or tea, and feel free to be real with one another.
Eventually, "that song" or "your gift" became the only thing people asked for or talked about. Years of doing what I thought I wanted or needed to be doing, turned into loneliness. Leaders would call me to come to their church and wouldn't even ask about my growing family or how I was doing. It broke me. I was there to give, which is was completely heart-driven, but efforts to build any relationship were never made. I came, I sang, they said, "Thank you for your service", and I left.
I'm sure there are many people that endure times like these in this lifestyle and have stayed with it. However, that life is just not for me anymore. I realized that I have so much more to give to many, many more people. I don't say these things to shine a bad light on those leaders. There have been good people who have shown great love to me throughout my life and time in ministry. I am forever grateful.
However, I had to lean into who I truly am and discover my greater purpose. I had to ask, "Is this really what makes me come alive inside?" The truth? No. I felt unfulfilled and confused about my place. I thought I would sing until the day I died. However, I realized that what I deeply wanted was a real connection with people who saw more in me than just what I could do for them.
We should celebrate people who are growing and discovering new passions!
We should celebrate when someone realizes that as wonderful as things were for them on the old path, it's time to chart a new course!
I spent a lot of time very concerned about what people would think of me for no longer singing. Then, after a few years and long walks of discussion with my husband, I realized that no one else has to live my life. As wonderful and exciting as those years were, it's time for me to move forward! It's time to open a new chapter and to live life to my fullest potential!!!
You Are Not A Feather
Please take this lesson from someone who has lived it! Don't place the responsibility of your life, thoughts, and actions on an idea about yourself.
For years, well-meaning people have told me to never stop singing. While I understand their heart, I also cannot live a life that I'm no longer happy in.
Why would anyone keep doing something, just to please others, when it no longer makes them feel fulfilled. Please understand, touching the hearts of people has always been and will always be my passion and my drive in life.
However, writing fulfills me! Writing makes me come alive inside, it fulfills a sense of purpose in me and it's another way I can help people. So, I'm doing that now! I'm sure, as more of my journey unfolds, that there will be many more things that I will do as well. The point is to live life fully! I am very careful where I give my time and who I give time to. I have learned and continue to learn boundaries and will always be aware of where my real connections are.
Don't live your life thinking that you have no choice. We were never meant to live our lives incapable of making decisions about our journey. You have a deep desire to do something meaningful in life, something that really inspires you and others! Humanity is given an amazing gift to choose to live abundant lives or a dull existence. We have a choice! Don't just go through the motions of living your life for the expectations of others. Do what matters to you and you will change the world around you!
Even if you believe that your path is divinely planned for you, you still have a responsibility for your thoughts and actions. I think we come off real easy when we place blame for how our lives are going, or how they end up. We blame God, we blame the devil, we blame our parents, we blame society, we blame our job, our friends, or our culture, yet we never blame ourselves.
The only one responsible for how your life is lived is YOU!
This is your life, your gifted time on earth, not anyone else's. Take responsibility for your journey! Living like you have no control is a defeated and stuck way of being. If you feel unfulfilled and out-of-control with your life, get grounded and rediscover why you're here! Find out what would make you jump out of bed in the morning! Rediscover your purpose for living and go after it with all of your heart!
Above All Else...Love
The other thing I've learned is that without love, nothing is worth doing. I cannot stress this enough! Can you make decisions without love? Yes. However, if you want to make a lasting, positive impact in your family and in the world, you must live life with the guidance of love.
It's easy to forget that love is always there to guide us. It may sound cheesy, but love is more than an emotion, it's the light to our path. So many people go through life feeling afraid and alone, but I've learned that with love we're actually never alone. Love has been the ultimate friend in my life. I have overcome great fear with love. Love has guided me to see past my pain and has taught me how to put love in its place. Love taught me that it's okay to love someone and still distance yourself. Love has given me the courage to become the greatest version of myself in a world where everyone wants you to stay the same.
Love has transformed my life. I see love as my closest companion that took me from despair, revealed my own heart to me, and showed me how to rise above and overcome. Love is truly the most amazing gift and life is a thousand percent better when you're guided by love.
I can't apologize for laying down singing. However, I am happier than I have ever been. I am happy and free just being me! And you know something?
Love is smiling.
I love you all and send you lots of hugs from my heart to yours!