Confessions Of A Ragamuffin Worship Leader
Close your eyes, the change is coming.
Hold your breath, the pain is rising.
Feel the weight, lay on your chest.
Let it burn, let it burn.
These lyrics from the song For the Time We Have, by Common Hymnal capture so accurately the feelings of knowing things will never be the same.
Journal Entry November 2022
Worship leader? I can’t breathe it’s too much. The lump in my throat hurts, the pain in my heart is stinging. God, please speak to me! What’s happening? Why does it feel like there is a rock in my stomach? It’s weighing me down God, I can’t feel peace with it there. Did I fall out of your will or is this the pain of letting go when I want to hold tight? I’m so angry! I don’t understand anything anymore. I’m questioning everything I thought I knew. Teach me God your truth, not a man’s perception of the truth. God, only you know my heart, and in that I pray peace.
Change is uncomfortable because it brings uncertainty, humans like comfort, it comes naturally. But as the quote goes by Gina Milicia, “A comfort zone is a beautiful place, but nothing ever grows there.”
There are usually many details that lead up to a big change and if not handled correctly these details can cause major destruction in our lives and the lives of others.
I’m currently crawling up out of the valley due to a recent change in my life that wasn’t handled correctly. I fought it. I blamed. I argued instead of letting myself hurt, because hurting is uncomfortable.
Last year God began to make it clear there was a change that would be necessary for my family to grow. But I didn’t want to let go. There was too much good. I questioned what I knew was truth because I couldn’t understand why God would tell us to walk away from something so good.
I know now more than ever His plans are higher.
Four years, seven months, and twenty-one days my family of four lived the most recent chapter of our lives. Somehow, we thought it would never end, so when it did it was devastating and very confusing.
This chapter was full of love and contentment. We were worship leaders at a Bible teaching Church with an amazing Church family. Music has always been a huge part of my marriage so being able to lead worship together was an incredible blessing for our family.
We served and attended and fellowshipped again and again for almost five years. There were seasons we were in the Church building three days a week. We would stay hours after service because we wanted to, we would practice hours before service because we needed to, we would exhaust ourselves in praise because we longed to.
Until it began to feel like we could never do anything good enough, or simply never do enough.
Voices came and went with rights and wrongs on how we played our music or how we worshipped. We were used to this. This has been our life in and out of Church. Everyone has an opinion on what you’re doing when you’re the one up front. Before becoming Christians when the criticisms or questioning would come about our music, we clung to the old Aristotle saying,
“There is only one way to avoid criticism – say nothing, do nothing, be nothing.”
When we became Christians and the voices came just the same, we clung to scripture and were reassured that this is what carrying your cross looks like. We were strong for way longer than I thought we could be because these voices were causing more problems in my marriage and in our home then they could imagine. We didn’t know who was right or wrong and didn’t understand why every detail of our life was such a debate.
The voices mostly seemed to be coming from love and the desire to make sure the worship was biblical but at times it didn’t make sense and we would later find scripture that countered the comments.
Jay and I soon found ourselves trying to listen and obey everyone and would even contain our musical potential to please others. I would hold back my voice some days from the runs I so badly wanted to do, and Jay held back lead guitar breaks because one voice had once told us that would be showing off.
Some voices would say contemporary songs were the right songs, others would say old Hymns. But we couldn’t choose, because they all felt right.
When the confusion came on this subject, we researched and found that a hymn is defined simply as a song or poem to praise God.
We were also reminded that the old hymns were contemporary when they were written.
The bible says to sing to the Lord a new song (Psalm 96:1), so old or new if we believed a song glorified God and was truth, we couldn’t understand when questions would arise.
Ephesians 5:19 says to sing and make melody to the Lord with your heart.
A person’s heart is personal and only God can judge that.
We began to get preoccupied with pleasing everyone and when we realized this would never happen, we started to lose confidence in our calling and in ourselves.
We even got to a point where we would measure our worth on the response of the congregation instead of remembering our identity in Christ.
We soon realized how thwarted our views on everything were becoming from so many voices whispering rights and wrongs in our direction.
There were eventually so many voices that we could no longer discern Gods voice from all the rest.
We were losing ourselves, had lost sight of our first love while trying to please everyone’s preferences and striving for the acceptance and assurance that we had done just that.
It became clear when this was all revealed to us why God would bring this chapter to an end.
God pulled us out not because the Church was wrong, not because any person was bad, but because we were sinning.
We were trying to be obedient to others desires to please them, and eventually we had put “them” before God, even when it didn’t feel right in our own hearts.
When everything started to become clearer, we began paying more attention to the world in which we live and the Church, as a whole not just one building.
Wow was this eye opening. I don’t recommend it, but I went to YouTube to try to figure out where everyone was getting all these ideas about worship and who was right or wrong.
My findings. You can find a video or article with someone pointing out something wrong about almost every (I’ll say almost because I had to stop looking) worship leader, pastor, or church.
I thought, “is this where all of these thoughts and comments are coming from or are they coming from the Bible?”
What I found is that Worship is about your heart and only God can judge that therefore there is no debate only personal discernment.
When I realized most everyone serving in this way has faced the same problems, questions, and doubt it dawned on me, “not one of us is perfect, but those of us who have been called to lead in this way are enough.”
As I heard Charity Gayle say recently in an interview, “the important part is to remember the God of the calling first, then the calling.”
We had lost this view. We had lost our first love and it was causing us as a couple and as a family to crumble.
It took time, but we see it now, and even though we had to lose some special friendships and walk away from a comfortable spot, were getting stronger spiritually and walking more in tune and in time with Gods plan for our lives.
That friends is how we fall in and out of Gods will. I see that now. I’m not proud of it but I’m so thankful He knows best and even if it hurts, He gives us grace, pats our bottom, and says come on child, come back to me.
No regrets I’ve found worth having.
Only time It seems were lacking.
Take my hand and feel me near
don’t let go, don’t let go.
That title of worship leader had somehow made us start to unconsciously believe we had it all together.
Going back to our first love we were reminded and refreshed that we are ragamuffins (As Brennan Manning writes in his book The Raggamuffin Gospel) –the bedraggled, beat up, and burnt out, and oddly enough that gives me peace.
God didn’t need us, and that Church didn’t need us. He had blessed us, He was using us, and when we started without even realizing running away from Him and relying on men, He reminded us.
It’s time to rest and regroup for the next season.
God reminded us He is not done with us but that it was time to come back to Him.
He is jealous for me and for you (Exodus 20:5).
Catching every tear, you cry refusing now to say goodbye.
Be still with the time we had.
The thing is, even though it’s beautiful, it’s hard.
Change usually means you gain some things, but with that you lose others.
I’m still mourning the loss of the closeness with that Church family and the confusion that came with sin, but we needed that experience to help us grow.
We found ourselves drowning in confusion for a season, but God snatched us up yet again and we have come out of the water so refreshed. We toweled off the guilt and shame that comes from confusion and sin and warmed our bodies in the arms of our Heavenly Father. Now we are walking a little taller, thicker skinned, and confident with the peace in the promise that He will never leave us or forsake us. He continues to prove that time and time again.
I pray I never forget that I am a ragamuffin and that my eyes need stayed fixed on my Heavenly Father.
The only title we need claim on this earth is, Child of God.
So the big news I’ve been hinting around at on social media.
Jay and I have twenty years of songs that we have written through our life experiences. We have never felt free to sing and play them. I see now it was because we were too worried about pleasing everyone and fulfilling the song requests of others. Not anyone’s fault but our own.
We wouldn’t be where we are now and have the clarity and confidence that we do without living all those experiences.
As I told Jayson yesterday, knowing that no matter who you are or what you do comes with some sort of questioning and criticisms from others, is actually really relieving.
I need not try to impress anyone but the one who has called me to be me and use my passions and talents for Him.
I have faith that when we do just that and don’t worry about what anyone else thinks that our Heavenly Father sits in the crowd clapping, crying, and waiting to embrace us with a big “well done child” hug.
The word says do all things to the glory of God (1 Corinthians 10:31), so we won’t hold back anymore. We have musical lions scratching within waiting on their chance to roar.
When we left our comfortable Church building we had served in and lost so much of what gave us comfort, God instantly began revealing little by little Isaiah 43:19 in our lives. See! I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up, do you not perceive it. I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.
God very clearly sent me to a month study of Proverbs, where I needed to gain wisdom and be disciplined and redirected. He also gave me the idea that we need to visit 50 different Church’s this year, and so far that has been an incredible blessing.
He also gifted my husband more belief in himself that he is good enough, through Christ. God brought a gentlemen in our life who is working with Jayson and I and bringing much needed musical wisdom and experience.
I am SO excited to share with you our new brother in Christ, who is guiding us on this new journey with music! But that will be the next big news (keep up on social media for pictures the first week of February).
Friends God has been so faithful since we obeyed, even though it made us uncomfortable.
We have songs to introduce to the world and a peace in knowing they will not be lost now. The songs will hopefully be cherished by our children, our grandchildren, and our brothers and sisters who have walked with us on this journey of life.
Those of you who have witnessed the transformation, from lost ragamuffins to worship leader ragamuffins.
Keep an eye out for our new album made of ten songs that tell our love story in melody titled, Time Capsule.
Words and melody complete Jay and me. They touch an emotion in us that is unlike any other. We respect the power of music itself and how it breaks our flesh down to ignite the spirit living within us. We were made for this, that we can’t deny. We lift our arms to the old and the new songs as we feel our perception of self being broken down and surrender, flooding through our weightless bodies. Relief comes with those words and melodies as they remind us, we don’t have to be perfect or carry the weight of what we should or should not be in the eyes of others.
We are now more confident than ever that the God who began a good work in us, will continue His work until it is finally finished on the day that Christ Jesus returns (Philippians 1:6).
Until then my friends abundant Grace to you and to me.
I give thanks for the time we had.
We give thanks for the time we had.