Okay, so when you guys read the title just now, did you feel the hint of "no one actually cares" that in my experience most people give when they say it? Good.
I don't mean "good because I'm a jerk and want to make you feel bad." ;)
I mean "good because you will probably completely understand where I'm coming from."
I have this one particular friend that says this a lot.
I have another particular friend who says something similar-ish, but what she says, she says from a different angle. It still kind of sounds odd, but the heart of it seems a lot different.
"That's no fun!"
It's funny (see what I did there?) to think that two similar sayings are usually meant so differently that how they sound. Both are light-hearted-sounding, but neither of them really are, given the context. The first statement seems dismissive while the other seems compassionate, though both have a lighter touch than the emotion they convey. A lot of times, it seems like the people who say those things are the people who are generally light-hearted yet have a depth that might not always be apparent at first glance.
So let's talk about fun. Wow. When I say that out loud, it sounds like a really lame discussion topic. I think my ears might be tricking me, though. I think people like me who often find themselves heavy-hearted need to understand the merits of loosening up.
A while back, I wrote about my first experience dancing. I remember it all. I remember how uncomfortable it was, particularly. I was in the bridal party at the wedding at which this happened. I remember my
date partner telling me to loosen up. I remember that when I finally did, I had a blast.
I had fun.
Now, <sarcasm> God forbid that someone like me should ever do anything fun </sarcasm>. But that's something I would have believed at the time. That was toward the end of 2012. I was still dealing with resentment toward two people close to me who hurt me beyond belief, and I had just moved back in with my parents, which was humiliating at best. I was also dealing with the shame of choices I had made during that time. Everything that had hit me had done so one thing after the other, after the other. Suffice it to say that I was worn. Still am for different reasons. Kind of like the Tenth Avenue North song.
Nothing was fun. Honestly, that was the first time in a long time that I had actual fun doing anything. Fear wasn't an option. Nerves weren't an option. Locking up wasn't an option. This was happening. I could either run away or stay and break a cycle of misery that I let myself be a slave to.
It was completely uncomfortable. It was completely worth it.
You may or may not know that I'm making a record this year. Recently, I finished recording the electric rhythm guitars for the record. This may seem unrelated, but humor me, and you'll see. This is something I shared on Facebook about how one of those recording days played out.
I just wanna be completely transparent for a minute.
Recording was awful today. For the purposes of this project, my recorded performances will be limited to vocals, bass, and rhythm guitar. The latter was today, and thankfully, things got better, and I was able to wrap electric rhythm guitars for the record.
But I hit a point during a song that wasn't particularly difficult at all, and somehow I was failing again and again to transition my chords right, sliding too slow, etc. And I hated it. I hated looking in the mirror of my mind and seeing someone who is capable of doing a simple task as completely incapable.
At one point, I had run through that exact part so many times that I just threw my headphones on the ground and wanted to pack it up. Maybe that's my problem. Maybe I give up too easily. Maybe I don't see myself the way I should.
But in the middle of that rage, I felt something saying to me, not so much with words but with heart, "Seriously? You know this isn't the end of the road. You know I made you for more than this. This isn't about music. This isn't about performance. This isn't about you." And you know what? That Voice was right.
We don't always think of self-deprecation as narcissism, but it kind of is. It's self-focused. It isn't focused on God. It isn't focused on loving others. It's focused on separating a person from anything good.
Christ's plan for this record has nothing to do with me proving myself to anyone. It has to do with showing His love to everyone who listens. That's not the attitude I had in the studio. It's my desire to change that attitude. I'd rather not be bitter at myself for being imperfect as literally every human being is. I'd rather be grateful for the opportunity to be chosen to be used by God for a mission that is bigger than my understanding and power. I'd rather be grateful to all of you who have supported me and believed in me so far. So help me God.
I was really feeling decimated. I was so concerned with getting everything right that it was tripping me up. I was stumbling because I didn't want to stumble. See the irony? Because I refused to let go and loosen up and have fun with the process, I couldn't get it right. Music is something that I should enjoy. After all, I want music to be my job, second only to Jesus and my future wife. How exactly am I supposed to not have fun with that?
Not to blame my personality type, but since I'm somewhere in the realm of an ENFJ/ENFP, being around others does something special for me. I am an entirely different person at least in terms of negativity and positivity. For example, when I record alone, I'm more critical and tend to expect failure more readily, and when I mess up it tends to pile up. When I have someone pushing record and with whom I can interact, I just go for it, it usually turns out better, and it's less of an Armageddon story if I mess up.
But why? Why should it matter if I'm with someone or not? Should it matter? I don't think it should, yet it makes a difference for me. I shouldn't need approval. I shouldn't need anyone holding my hand through the process.
Or maybe I should. Maybe this has absolutely nothing to do with my abilities as a guitarist or as a vocalist, but everything to do with my faith in the presence of God and in the love that Christ showed to me and continues to show.
Maybe if my identity were more grounded in who He is and not what I do, I wouldn't be so prone to falling apart with my failures.
Maybe then, I would find it easier to loosen up.
Maybe then, I would have fun even if it's just me by myself.
My worth can't stand alone. Without something weaving all the parts of me together, keeping them a cohesive whole, I cannot stand.
My worth is defined by the way the Father loves me.
It's not defined by how much I get right.
It's not even defined by how well I let go of the things that upset me about myself.
His love is the only thing powerful enough to define me, making His love the only thing that can help me do better and let go of it when I can't seem to.