It’s 2017! According to the people in my social media feeds, which is always a reliable source of information, the new year is a good thing because last year was apparently terrible.
My writing dropped off the face of the internet’s earth for a while, and that’s okay. Because the internet’s earth isn’t all of earth, and sometimes it’s good to keep secrets from it.
Last year around this time I made the “writelution” (geez, I already feel like I’ve matured in a year) to take joy. And I think I did it, or at least tried to. At the time, it was a life-giving goal, something which challenged me to scrounge for joy when I least felt it was there.
But this time I think I’m ready for something different. I’m tired of scrounging, of hunting. I want to choose, rather than just take, hope. It’s a different kind of action. It’s utilizing what’s already there instead of trying to find it.
One of my favorite thoughts I came across this year was this one:
And this quote sums up my desire to be more active in the pursuit of joy. This past year, my soul has hummed and danced and sung on good days, but it’s had trouble doing all those things on the bad ones. I find that I build nests in sorrow because deep down I want to. It’s warm and comforting being cold and uncomfortable.
I used to sing regularly. I used to sing every week at church, together with a big well-oiled machine of a worship band. People said I was good, and that I blessed them. And in a lot of ways, I was blessed too. There were fleeting moments when the songs filled my heart and veins and bones and exploded into the big bright sanctuary and up to God.
But after a few years, singing felt stale, not worshipful at all. It became a routine, a scheduled rehearsal and playacted performance. But I kept singing because I was expected to, and I kept singing because there was no good reason not to, and I kept singing because people were blessed by it.
But after a while, I didn’t want to sing anymore.
At least, not in front of people. I wanted to sing the songs of my soul. I wanted my heart and veins and bones to fill up and explode to God, just to God, not to anyone else. And then various church and family crap happened, and it felt like all the literal and figurative singing was such a sham, like I had been exploited into blessing people who wouldn’t bless me back.
I realize this isn’t necessarily accurate, but it’s how I felt. And I spent most of 2016 feeling that to walk into a church and sing in any capacity was a lie. The words of every song were stale and sneering. I assumed that every well-oiled worship band machines were scheduled rehearsals and performances like I had once been. And I got angry, because I really wanted to sing and fill up and explode together with my brothers and sisters. I didn’t want to sing by myself anymore.
“I want to be in church, God.” I prayed. “And I want to sing and I want it to be real, and I want to feel like I belong and have a community. But I just can’t.”
So for a while I stumbled along and went to church with my best friend and my husband and I tried to sing. Some days I sang on the outside, some days I only sang on the inside, and some days I didn’t sing at all. And every so often there would be a moment when the song would fill my heart and veins and bones and explode, and I’d nearly cry. The moment never lasted very long but I was thankful for it. And then the moments started getting closer and closer together, until I could sing, really sing, for a whole service.
Obviously it’s still not cut and dried. Obviously there are other ways I need to learn to sing, inwardly if not outwardly. But I’m learning, and I’m thankful for that, and I’m content with that. This past year I’ve been confused, I’ve felt lost and I’ve been brokenhearted. And God has met me in each of those moments, I think, to remind me to sing anyway. And I want to. I want to sing even if there isn’t a song playing. So that’s my intention or resolution or whatever it is.