*Disclaimer: While I am in fact reading the book, ‘The One Thing,’ I am no where near finished nor do I have a handle on what they are talking about. This post is independent from anything in that book and if it actually lines up with what they’re saying, that is purely coincidental.*
Who are you? What do you love? What are you good at? When people think about you, what is the one thing that comes to mind?
For as long as I can remember, my one thing has been my voice. Ever since I was little I have run around belting out my favorite songs. I sang my first solo at the ripe age of eight and I guess somewhere in there a dream was born to grow up to be a singer. I got involved in worship as a tween and began leading at school for chapels, youth group and eventually main services. I was not-so-affectionately called, “Praise Team Girl” in high school, but I accepted it because it was what I identified with. Worship was my jam. Singing was my thing. It was the only thing I was really good at, and it was going to be my vehicle to success, not to mention that it is also one of the main ways that the Lord and I connect
As an adult I have most definitely struggled to keep my talent from defining me. When I walk in to new places to meet new people, the fact that I am a worship leader is one of the first things I want to make known about myself. When I walk into places where other people are singing or leading worship, I am a highly critical judge — I’m not proud of it, but it’ s the truth. I think we all do this with our giftings though, don’t we? We measure ourselves up to the success of others, like I mentioned in my post, “Measuring up.”
Obviously for the past few years, something else has been inching its way into my identity crisis, so much so that there are people who *gasp* don’t even know that I sing! They know me as the author who writes really good “relational tension” as my friend Anna says *wink wink.* Writing surprised me back when Josiah was a baby. I don’t know if I’ve ever told you why I even started . . . don’t judge me now . . . It was all because of The Twilight saga. I won’t go into the details of that now, but if you want to know, I’ll tell you sometime. Anyway, when I started and then finished Stones of Remembrance, the feeling that came over me was the equivalent to birthing a child. I’m not being melodramatic either. I was exuberant. It was the most exciting thing I had experienced in a long time even more than singing. That was the biggest surprise. From there, every manuscript that I finished (oh yes, there are many many books on my hard drive, just waiting to see the light of day) brought on the same elation as the first, and so I wrote as much as I could for as long as I could, which ended up lasting until two Octobers ago when we announced and began the process of our move to Austin and the whole world crumbled around me. Now there are too many responsibilities in my day to allow for hours upon hours of time spent with my imaginary friends. Now, writing is the last thing on my list. It’s like this sad thing that sits in the corner of my brain collecting dust while I peck away at all of the other things that are pressing. When I’m done with my to-do list for the day, the last thing I have energy for is dusting off my imagination and sitting back down at the computer I’ve been at for five-six hours already.
I’ve been lamenting this issue for awhile. All I want to do is write and sing, but there are so many other things in the way. I sat down a few weeks ago with the Lord and spent some time looking at the things I have to get done in a day verses the things I really want to be doing, and He really challenged me on something big.
He pointed to the line item that said, “Worship” and said, “Julie, that’s not the thing.”
I felt like the air had been sucked out of my lungs as I realized what He was saying. He was asking me to take worship and singing off of my priority list for an indeterminate amount of time. He was telling me that the thing I always thought I was the best at, the thing that I had counted on to get me places in life was in fact, not the thing.
You’d think that since He was instead pointing me toward writing and speaking and developing a public platform I would have been okay with giving up my music, but, no, in fact I am still grieving that loss right now. I had more tears about it today as I was preparing for my very last worship leading gig at a retreat in Wisconsin this weekend. I’ve been really struggling with these preparations for a number of reasons but I realized today that part of it was about the fact that after this trip is over, that’s it. I won’t be leading worship or singing publicly for who knows how long. I do not believe this is a forever thing, and I don’t think the Lord is saying don’t ever sing. No, what He is saying is that it’s not the priority for my life and while I think I have known that for awhile, I actually had to go through the motions of letting go of it in order to make room for the writing platform.
The thing about it is this: leading worship and singing is easy for me. It’s second nature. I don’t have to work hard at it. But this platform building thing is terrifying and incredibly hard for me. It’s a challenge that I have been putting off accepting for years. I’ve felt it in my gut, stirring and taunting me but just like I said in that Measuring Up post, I defaulted to, “I can’t do that,” and shut the whole thing down. I’ve even thought, “If I just write free e-books that would be good enough.” Sure that would be enough to settle for, but I don’t want to get to my last day on earth and regret all of the settling that I did. I want to learn and grow and become something better than I am right now, and in order to do that, I have to work hard.
Music was never what I was supposed to identify with in the first place, just like being an author is what I do, and not who I am. My identity is in Christ alone, and that is something I fight to reconcile my humanity with every day, but I am allowing myself time to grieve the loss of this huge part of my life, and the Lord is giving me a lot of grace as I continue to make an effort to completely let it go. But even as I take the necessary steps, I see His blessing and provision for what I am trading it for come to fruition. I see Him making time and space for me to write, I see Him adjusting my mindset and bringing forth tools and voices that are going to help me along the way. Amateur hour is over and it’s time to step up to the microphone for a new purpose.
What is your one thing? What do you have to let go of in order to accomplish it?