In the past months I realised something that was both distressing and worrying – I could not for the life of me seem to recall any of the songs of praise and worship that I’d spent more than 75% of my life singing. I would suddenly look up from something else I’d been doing, think, “Wow, it’s been a long time since I sang anything,” and try to think of a line, a title, a melody… and nothing would come to mind.
For many years I had a reputation for being a walking song directory – anybody anytime could randomly hum me a tune, throw me a title or a phrase of half-remembered lyrics, and I’d immediately pull the entire song out from the prodigious reservoir in my head. I could even provide the alto harmony line for about half of them. So you can see why I have been feeling quite disturbed by my recent inability to bring anything up from the deep!
Mostly I could drag up the same old few tunes: Jesus Loves Me (This I Know), As The Deer, Here I Am To Worship. That being all I had, I just sheepishly mumbled them to my nursing toddler and stopped within a few minutes.
I had some theories about this “selective amnesia”. None were good. My memory was failing prematurely. My memory had been permanently crippled somehow by some freak hormonal imbalance following Z’s birth. I had some sort of debilitating disease. I had so displeased God that He had wiped my source of pride from me as a punishment. God was so disgusted with me that He no longer wanted me to sing. Not like I’d been doing it anyway. Could I even sing any more? Should I? Was it that I no longer believed, and so my subconscious had purged my mental records? What did that mean or entail, and was it even true? …did I still believe? What did I now believe?
I half-heartedly went through my computer archive in search of tracks I’d recorded. As if hearing myself sing would trigger some sort of recovery. It didn’t. I just felt like a fraud, somehow, listening to myself… so I stopped. I felt like I had lost my faith and my God… that He had abandoned me in disgust. I had no church, no community, nothing. I was outcast.
Then, about two months ago, a few more songs came back to mind: There Is None Like You, I Stand In Awe, Here In My Life. I sang them quietly to myself, in the bath, in the kitchen, while walking or riding the bus/train… but always only for a few minutes, and sheepishly, half reluctant, afraid that somehow I had lost the right to sing such things. But then, of all things, Disney’s God Help The Outcasts (from The Hunchback of Notre Dame) suddenly came to me and wouldn’t get out of my head for an entire week. The lines that really got me?
I don’t know if You can hear me
Or if You’re even there
I don’t know if You would listen
To a gypsy’s prayer
Yes I know I’m just an outcast
I shouldn’t speak to You
Still I see Your face and wonder
Were You once an outcast too?
And I wept because I knew, I know, that He was. It gave me hope somehow that if even Disney songwriters could get it right, there must still be hope for me. But I didn’t push, didn’t really try any harder than I had been… I just couldn’t find the motivation.
But over the past week I’ve felt small stirrings within. The urge to look up at the sunset and smile, or whisper praise. A sudden desire to sing again. And a few days ago I had two of my old favourites pop back into my head on the way home from work – You Are My World and Overwhelmed.
Do I feel like I’m worthy once more? No. But it’s returning to my awareness that it really isn’t about my being worthy or unworthy, but about having a sacrifice that avails for me. And that, I do have.
So while I can’t mean every word of You Are My World, not yet, I’ll still sing, because I have reason to. And someday the understanding and conviction will come. Back.
I sing this praise for You alone
And once again I worship at Your throne
I lift You up, You cover me
Safe and sound, sheltered by Your wings
I gaze upon Your glory now
Redeeming love satisfies my soul
You summon angels all around
This joy of salvation I have found
I exalt You, I will come
With shouts of joy into Your presence
Faithful God, my heart is overwhelmed by You
In spirit and in truth I stand
To worship You with all I am
I’m Yours, Lord; I am Yours, Lord
Jesus, my heart is overwhelmed