When I was in high school I tried out for Vocal Ensemble, a small auditioned group that was the elite of our school choir world. When I looked at the list of people who made it into the group, my name was on it… but not in the right place. I had always been a soprano but the teacher had put my name under alto. I was so certain it was a mistake that I marched up to her and told her so. My jaw must have dropped when she said there was no mistake. It seems totally ridiculous to admit now but I went home and cried. You see, up until this point my experience was that teachers assigned students to the alto section because they couldn’t carry a tune. I doubt that was always the case, but it was what I had been led to believe. It was a belief I held firm, not knowing it was wrong until the day it applied to me. I was devastated. The one talent I thought I had was singing and here was a teacher telling me I wasn’t good enough. This seems so petty now but irrational beliefs often are. I was so wrapped up in my sadness and confusion that I couldn’t understand that this teacher was about to change my view of music altogether. She knew what I had yet to learn: altos needed to be strong singers in order to carry the harmony. I was about to discover a whole new and much more beautiful depth of singing. Thanks to someone who knew me better than I knew myself, I was about to fall head over heels in love with harmony. I was about to discover my true place.
As God reminded me of this story again, I realized something. I am STILL standing firm in a position that may not be mine to hold. Old habits die hard. I knew I was a soprano. Someone who knew better recognized that I was not… and it changed music for me in a special way forever. I know I am a healthy Social Worker. SomeONE who knows me better may know that I am not… and it may change me in a special way forever. Before you get all wound up and start defending my health and career, please know that I am not ruling out a bodily healing and a return to work. I’m just opening my mind and heart to other possibilities. Of course I don’t know if God is calling me to let go of more of my dreams… but I’m pretty sure He’d like me to start holding them a little more loosely.
Holding loosely brings a more mature perspective. I was stuck in the childish version of music while my teacher wanted to usher me into adulthood. She was changing my perspective of so many aspects of music. She was helping me learn the truth over and above what I had always known. Maybe I’m still stuck in the childish version of life and the ultimate Teacher wants to usher me into adulthood, giving me solid food instead of milk (1 Cor. 3:2). Maybe He wants to teach me a truth that will change me in the most beautiful of ways.
Holding loosely allows for broadened horizons. What I wouldn’t have been able to experience had I been a soprano all my life! I hope I’m writing in a way that doesn’t offend either voice because I understand now that each part is unique, beautiful, and unbelievably talented. I no longer believe what I believed then about music. That’s the beauty of growth. But here’s what I know about my experience. Embracing my alto-ness trained my ears to hear harmony and stretched me to learn something new. When I was a soprano, I wasn’t even listening to the other parts of the music because I didn’t think I had to. Being an alto allowed me to hear the true beauty of a song that includes more than just melody. Harmony almost never fails to give me chills now. What if I had missed that in my arrogance? Maybe I’m still being arrogant about life, holding onto the things that I want without consideration of what God wants. Maybe He’s trying to train and stretch me to hear and express something new. The thought of that lights my insides up with excitement. What goosebump-inducing beauty could He have in store?
I don’t think I’ve made it too much of a secret that the last few months of my life have been less than stellar. This week I let go of yet another thing I thought was surely mine to hold. I have grieved… hard. But as my musical past came back to me this morning I thought, what if? What if this letting go helps me embrace God’s perspective on my life? What if it opens my arms to possibilities I never imagined? What if it helps me discover a truth I’ve been missing all along? What if it guides me to hear and sing a more beautiful song? What if it leads me to my true place, a place I could never know while clinging to the one I think I should belong?
I want to hear the harmony of life. Not only that but I want to be a part of it. It’s a tremendous privilege to know we are a key part of God’s beautiful song. So, as much as it hurts to wonder how much more I have to lose before I can burst into that new song, I am going to do my best to keep an open heart. I want to lay down at Jesus’ feet the severely limiting beliefs I’ve held firm. Maybe God wants to change my view of life itself. I trust the One who knows me better than I know myself. I will grieve hard for my dreams and old perspectives while trying to completely embrace the new. I believe that as long as I follow my Teacher, I will watch my world open up bigger and brighter than I could ever imagine. God is inviting me into a deeper, more harmonious life. Will I run home in tears or will I take a deep breath, open my heart, and sing it back to Him?