Friday, January 20, 2006

It's so hard for us, in our egocentric culture, to realize that something can not be about us.

There are some praise songs that I really hate singing. For theological and/or emotional (and sometimes purely aesthetic) reasons, my hackles go up when certain sets of lyrics come up on the screens in Moody. (By the way, whose idea was it to use bright yellow and lime green for the lyric colors in the ACU/Highland Power Point? Wouldn't a nice, calming blue be more soothing, more worshipful?)

Anyway, it's tough to realize that the songs I despise may be someone else's favorite. I can't stand songs with what I consider faulty theology. Nor do I tolerate it well when lyrics are poorly written, whiny, or matched with a tune that doesn't fit them at all. And some songs do NOT work well when sung a cappella! (That's the unapologetic Baptist coming out in me.) When these songs come up, I usually roll my eyes and either stand there without singing, wishing they'd get it over with, or sing along grudgingly. The effect is the same: either way, I spend the time not worshipping, not adding my voice to the community, but focused on myself, on my preferences and the way they're not being considered.

Yesterday, one of our campus leaders admitted that his heart is not particularly touched on every single day in chapel. There are probably some days he doesn't even want to go, some speeches he'd rather not listen to. There are probably some songs he'd rather not sing. But he added that whatever isn't stirring his heart is more than likely stirring somebody else's. And he can give thanks to God for that. He's learned, he said, that it isn't about him.

Even when we're singing a song I despise, it is still important for me to sing. The community is diminished if I don't add my voice to it. By singing when I don't feel like it, I am proclaiming that I will stick by this community of believers, even when I don't feel like it. And my voice adds to the blend of voices, praising our King, that just may touch somebody, even if the lyrics aren't my favorite. Even if the tune is screechy or strange.

This new attitude toward singing probably won't come naturally the next time someone leads a song that really gets to me. But I hope that instead of rolling my eyes and sighing, I'll take a deep breath, look around me, and go ahead and sing. Because the verses that don't stir me may be God's message to somebody else. And maybe being willing to sing the songs I don't love will form me into a more Christlike person. A person who realizes, however painful the epiphany may be, that it isn't about me.


Blogger Robert said...


Good post! There are certainly times when I don't feel like worshipping, and it is important to hear a call to community. One point I disagree with you on though: if I'm not singing, I don't feel like the community is diminished. Sometimes silent meditation while others are singing is appropriate. Either way, the point is well-taken. It is always a good goal to think of others, and one I do not aspire towards often enough.

10:03 AM  
Blogger Katie said...

Thanks for your comment, Robert. Let me clarify: I meant that it takes away from the community if I refuse to add my voice out of pride or pique. There are certainly times when it's appropriate to be silent and let others sing. But I think that if my attitude gets in the way and silences my voice, it hurts the community.

2:54 PM  
Blogger Scott said...

GREAT post. I feel the same way about a good number of songs, and your comment about songs that don't work acapella is quite well put.

But to the larger point of your post...when I was in Mertzon, one of the fellas and I had talked about our least favorite songs. He hated one particular song, and felt it should be torn from every songbook.

A couple of weeks after our conversation, a song-leader led the very song my friend hated...but he was singing it EXTRA loud. Since he's not wired for sarcasm, I mentioned it to him after church, surprised that he sang that particular song with such gusto.

It was at this moment that I learned more about community than ever before. He said, "Oh, I hate it...but sister Rena loves that song. It's her favorite. I was singing it for her."

I've sung every song since...wellllll, almost every song ;-)

4:21 PM  

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