Wednesday, August 25, 2010
I have experienced more in these last three days than perhaps the last year. I've tried new foods, stayed in weird hotels, met amazing people and seen a place that I hadn't known existed. I've felt the stares of the locals and heard their whispering as I walk by. I've never really felt like a minority before, but here, I most certainly am.
Everyone knows we're not from around here. They can tell by looking at us. And they try to help. We were nearly stranded in a subway station without our luggage. We were immediately helped. We almost got on the wrong bus--twice. We were kindly redirected by the driver who spoke no English at all.
I'm amazed by the people here. They do not understand us, but they still seem to be glad that we are here. I don't know why. They know nothing about us and we know even less about them. As I struggle to learn the language and look forward to the day when I'm living here too and can do so comfortably, I press on, one day at t time.
Monday, August 09, 2010
Sure, I can carry a tune—if you hand it to me in a bucket, but really, I shouldn't. Not unless there's a crowd also singing that can drown me out. I don't really like to sing. In my car maybe, but that's it. It's the one part of church I really don't like—well, that and the part where I have to shake hands with people I don't know.
It's supposed to be a time of worship. I get that. Singing to God… Rapture practice, one of my pastors used to call it. 'Cause that's what we're going to spend eternity doing, right?' Praise and worship. But does it have to be singing? I really hope not.
I don't feel particularly close to God when I'm singing. Sometimes, maybe, but it isn't the song. It's Him. Something He's telling me or something we're doing together and there just happens to be music playing. Don't get me wrong—I LOVE music. I mean, I really love it. It gets into my soul and I can listen to the same song over and over and over and drown in it. But I'd rather leave the making of it to those who do it best. The Stephen Curtis Chapman's, the Bruce Hornsby's and the Usher's of the world. They can sing—let's let them do it.
I'm pretty sure God knows how I feel about singing. He knows it's not something I enjoy and he knows what's going on with me when I'm in church and the music isn't moving me. Someone else picked those songs and decided that everyone would sing them. It's hard to worship—really worship—on command.
Maybe singing really does move most people and they really do feel like they're worshiping when they sing. I don't. I feel like I'm being forced to do something I'd really rather not do. Like when you're just going about your business and some random stranger says "smile—it's not that bad." Really? Do you KNOW how bad it is? Do you KNOW why I've chosen at this moment NOT to smile? No—you don't. So mind your own business—I'm smile when I'm happy. I'll sing when I'm feeling musical.
Worship is personal, though not necessarily private. To worship is to express love and adoration to God. It has nothing to do with singing. It's not about talent or showing off—it's doing whatever it is I do to tell God what song lyrics never seem to get right for me. When I can't focus on anything but Him, He looks into my heart and knows what no words can say. When I can look to Him and we connect and He knows what I can't express in words. When I can be in a room with Him and nothing else matters. When I can feel what I feel and know that He understands. That's worship. That's more than I love you. That's more than you mean everything to me and I can't live—and don't want to try to live—without Him. That's how I feel about God. That's how Jesus and I get to know each other. That's how the Holy Spirit dwells within me. I can be in a crowded room, I can be lying in bed, I can be doing the laundry or any number of mundane or profound things. I can be singing! Or not…