When I was eight years old, my mom, younger sister, and I went to hear my older brother’s high school choir’s Christmas performance where he would be singing a solo. From the first note that came out of his mouth, I was mesmerized, for I had never heard such a rich, wonderful sound. If it were something that could be touched, that beautiful voice I was hearing would be akin to a deep, burgundy velvet. I’ll never forget it. To this day, when I think back on that night, I can still see my brother on the stage—the lights low and the spotlight on him—and can still hear him singing.
So it was no surprise—when we were spring cleaning our home (and my mother had us doing that, on what seemed like a weekly basis)—that as I was caterwauling the tune of the day that was floating through my head while hand buffing the hardwood floors, my brother who was begrudgingly doing the same, in his most loving, sibling way told me, “You sound like a frog. PLEASE stop making that noise.” Wilting like a flower without water, because surely, he would know better than anyone if I had talent or not, I tucked away my dreams of having a beautiful voice like his. End of story. End of singing for me. Forever.
That was, until twenty years and two toddler children later, when on the way to practice with the worship team at church and in asking the Lord if He was pleased with what I was doing with music—for I had been a music major in college—what I heard in my heart was a resounding, “No,” followed by, “What is it that you have always wanted to do?” In that instant, I knew my answer. It was to sing and write music (the writing part added because my late husband wanted me to). And then came what I thought was the Lord’s calling, a direction to go and do just that.
Yippy-skippy! It didn’t take much more than the slightest nudge. I was on the band wagon, writing music and learning to sing. Truth be told, in the beginning, I was flat; I was sharp; but voice teachers along the way and in different parts of the country—for we moved with job changes every four years—each building on what the last one taught, had helped my voice to strengthen and change.
But it wasn’t until what my teacher, Rachel, said, that a real transformation began to take place:
It’s a scary thing, but when you stop trying to control what you think you should sound like and just open your mouth and sing with support, the tightness you hear in your voice will give way to the beauty and freeness you’ve always wanted.
Being in control. That affects so many areas of our lives. Being a recovering “fixer,” a recovering Pharisee, I know first-hand what it looks like to be in the middle of doctoring my own mess, of lending that unwanted hand to someone else. I’ve tried to fix this or that, to rein in and hold tight, be the hole plugger for every leak in the dyke, only to end up in the very least for myself, defeated and exhausted. Unable to relax enough to breathe. Unable to even exhale. And in the life of someone I was trying to save, my intentions sometimes coming across as the clanging cymbal spoken of in 1 Corinthians 13.
Truth is truth no matter where it lands. Whether it’s in singing or in living, when we try to be the master of our souls, directing this or that, we often strangle the very life we are looking for. But when we let God take over, when we let His Holy Spirit direct, convict, and bring change, the Lord breathes life back into what was dead. He did for me. And He does for everyone who turns to Him.
Thankfully, God didn’t turn me into the next Amy Grant. In His wisdom He knew that even though I love to sing, I suffer terrible stage fright. But through the encouragement of loved ones from the past and those in my present, He opened for me the love of writing.
If we seek and follow Him with all our heart, He will put into us that which He knows will bring fulfillment. And even when we stumble, are faithless, and outright fall flat—and we all do—but cry out to Him to save, He is there. Restoring and upholding as only He can. Pouring into us, faith, hope, and love.
“Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit.” –Psalm 51:12 (KJV)
Kimberly is the author of the children’s chapter book, Mr. Zip and The Capital Z.