Fast forward many years ….
I’m standing on the platform with the praise team. Singing is a joy to me, and unlike my cartooning talent, my musical talent is passable, but not nearly as gifted or refined.
As the pastor’s wife, I felt incredibly honored and blessed to be working with one of the most gifted musicians and musical mentors I’ve ever met. Joe Sanford is one of those rare individuals who listens deeply – not just at the notes you are singing, but at who you are as an individual. He teaches music in the school system too, which completely makes sense, because he has an uncanny ability to bring out the best in everyone and creates a harmony not only in music but with the individuals themselves.
Many times previously, I had been on other praise teams and was dismayed to be in a competitive atmosphere that had nothing to do with worshiping God or leading His people with praise.
Being on Joe’s team has been and will forever be, one of the greatest highlights of my life … even in one of the darkest hours of my Christian walk.
Anyway … On this particular day, one of the new team members was standing beside me. He meant well and thought he was encouraging me. Evidently, I sang something a bit off key, and when I did, he leaned towards me and whispered in my ear. “You know Shannon, as the pastor’s wife, you have to be an example to everyone. It’s expected that you should sing better than the rest of us.”
My breath was caught away and I stood there in shock.
This image came to mind …
Singing and music, to me, is like having a delicious plate of amazingly tasty foods in front of me. Just as I am about to dig my fork into one of them and experience the flavor, texture, aroma and taste, someone throws a bunch of little metal bee-bees onto my plate.
Now I can no longer dig in and enjoy my food, I will have to carefully pick out each tiny bee-bee so that I don’t break my teeth on it or swallow it.
Words are like the bee-bees. There is no doubt in my mind that he thought he was being helpful. And in this one little scenario, there are so many lessons. But for now, this is the lesson …
Negatives come our way and if we swallow everything that is thrown our way, we will break our teeth on them and swallow things that are toxic to us in every way. It is prudent that we not only watch what we say to others, but that we carefully remove the negatives so that we can enjoy the feast in front of us.
Religion is like that.
Men mean well. They want to teach what they have learned. Just like I want to teach you what I have learned. But my journey and my education is limited to my perceptions and conclusions.
You are responsible to carefully consider what not only I say, but what has been taught to you – and pick out that which is not food (love) but is hard and unforgiving (law).
When I find myself avoiding food that is good for me, I have the responsibility to discover why it has become unpalatable to me and remove the offense.
Whether it is how I personally worship My God, or how I pray, or sing, or dance, or don’t dance, it is MY food. This is about MY relationship with He Who Created Me. I promise not to spit in your food if you promise not to spit in mine, okay?
Hmm … maybe parents need to rethink their admonition when they tell their children to “Stop picking at your food!” (there might be a reason!)