i am not a musician i am not a singer. i am not where i want to be. i am not consistent. i am not perfect.
have you ever noticed when it comes to talking about our spiritual walk how often we start describing ourselves by saying what we are not? you can nod, it’s okay. i said we because i’m in the party. we like to be upfront about our shortcomings – perceived or factual. we want you to know what you’re getting into so you’re not surprised later.
this is big in church because everyone acknowledges that we’re all sinners, but no one actually wants to be the one doing the sin. i’ll let you in on a little secret. it’s impossible to not sin. we’re born into. we gravitate toward it. our twisted little minds plot it. it comes with the territory of living in a fallen world.
but the other side of our nature is a desire to seek God. we want to know He’s real. we want assurance that He knows us. we want to know we’re not alone in this crazy mess of life we find ourselves entangled in each day. and so we worship and praise God to remain connected.
this morning i spent some time in a worship and art depth class at my church. i’ll be honest with you. i sometimes struggle to find ways to connect with the people at my church. you would think being human and being social were natural tools for building successful relationships. but we’re not that one-dimensional. we are a sum total of our experiences and values and beliefs. we’re complicated and simple at the same time. we’re a ball of emotions and passions one moment and distant and apathetic the next. we are complex people.
i am faced with being an “other” so much in life because i am collectively black and female and single and childless and short and educated and christian and political and nerdy and intellectual and the list goes on. we exist in a world full of categories and we’re all expected to neatly fit into them, so people know how to relate to us. no one fits into those boxes and even if you did, you wouldn’t be the same. you might have shared experiences and points of connection, but it’s not apples to apples. and so i don’t always fit in. of course, i’m not shy about expressing my feelings or thoughts and that messes with some people’s levels of comfort. truth is i want to be accepted as part of the group while maintaining my individual uniqueness. talk about a dichotomy
none of this is lost on God. and so He continues to find ways for us to connect with Him.
as an artist, i am constantly blown away by the intricate care God showed when he made creation. from the variety in our natural landscape to the animals that roam the earth, God is super creative. and that creativity runs through our veins. how can we help but create.
so as we looked at the different ways we can express our art and creativity outside of the norms of singing and playing an instrument, i found a way to connect with people in my church community. for me, that art form is dance. i’m a dancer through and through. i got to share my passion for worshipping through dance with the group and what an amazing experience. shout out to jeannie for recording it for me.
we also played around with the use of words in worship beyond song lyrics. we did a few exercises in creating poetry and it really hit home the communal nature of worship. it is impossible for a church community to experience pure and total worship when it excludes worship styles outside of the mainstream, acceptable forms of worship. some may disagree but it’s okay. this is my truth.
the writer in me totally embraced the concept of using my words to express my praise. whether through poetry or prose, there is much to be said about the spoken word’s ability to connect with a God who speaks things into existence. in fact, He is the very essence of “word” by nature.
today i was also introduced to an amazing piece of music composed by the legendary john coltrane. as a product of Kansas City and a father who absolutely loves jazz, i’m very familiar with coltrane. but i knew nothing of his beautifully moving personal psalms. as the story goes, he wrote out his psalm to God on paper and then proceeded to play it as if he were speaking it. i was more than blown away when i heard it. it spoke to me as i’m sure he intended it to speak to God. it was worship in it’s purest form.
some of us use instruments, some of us use words, some of us use canvas, some of us use our bodies, some of us use our voice, and some of use use our hands. but in whatever creative outlet we have, we are able to worship and praise the Creator and giver of creativity.
armed with these new truths, i am excited to compose my movement in the key of praise.
Absolutely love you and this blog! Yes to praising our God!
I love that we have the ability to express our love for God in ways that are unique to us. Thanks for sharing.
I totally resonate with your praise dance and the Coltrane Psalm. They both brought a tear. Movement was mentioned even before The Most High spoke. Isn’t that awesome?! So we know He loves our dances of praise. Remember when David danced until his clothes came off all in praise to The Most High? There truly is an art to praise and worship.
Have you tried “ABC” praise? It’s when you think of words to describe The Most High in alphabetical order. You start by saying you are ________ (choose a word that starts with the letter a). For the words that start with x I use words that start with ex like exalted. The kicker is after the first round, you then picture Him saying words back to you in alphabetical order. I always get choked up at words like “precious” and “worthy.” Talk about an intimate moment with a Supreme Love…this exercise also forces you to step up your vocab when it comes to describing one who is The Word.
Keep praising Him boo!