I look for God’s hand in my life everyday. More and more I see the little miracles when God is watching over me. Some ways are obvious and others are subtle or not even realized until long after. Looking back on my life, I see many hard things as the blessings or gifts they are now. One fairly recent gift is when I was asked to be the children’s chorister in my church. Wow, was that a surprise! I didn’t know how to sing or read music, let alone lead others in singing music. In fact I was sure I was tone deaf. I had been asked by many to not sing or stop singing whenever I tried. How could I possibly fulfill this request?
But I won’t turn down a request to serve my church or the church members. Although, I wasn’t sure how I could serve them in this calling. Honestly, part of me felt strongly it might be a disservice to accept. I even considered it might have been an accident. Because, you know those times when you just embrace what you are being told by others and own it as truth. I had accepted that I am not good at music. I gave myself permission to sing aloud in the car to the radio, when I am alone, and that was the end of it. Yet, I dug in and committed to do my best in this calling.
That’s when the blessings began to unfold and I began to see God’s hand in this assignment. There was no question it was a stretch goal. While I love stretch goals, the fascinating part for me was this pushed me to grow in a direction I never would have selected for myself. It was not only pushing me out of the box, it was putting me on a new planet. God’s hand was pushing me to go into very unchartered territory and it felt like the wilderness. The beautiful part was he didn’t send me there and abandon me. He held my hand every step of the way.
I needed help so I turned to Lessons.com and submitted a request for a music teacher. Several responded but one called me and invited me to meet with him and see if we were a good fit. Topher was definitely a miracle. I instantly knew he was the right one and now I know God sent him to me. He is a professional singer and leads two choirs, one for children and one for seniors over 55. He is a Christian who loves spiritual music and, at that time, was singing in his church every week because they were still meeting online due to COVID, so they didn’t have a choir. There was no question, he was an answer to my prayers. At the end of our first meeting he told me he was sure God wanted me in this calling. Topher is a complete joy. He is entertaining and inspiring. He gets me to do things like blow bubbles and laugh big deep belly laughs that really push me out of my comfort zone. He builds my confidence and reassures me I am not tone deaf! He has given me the gift of loving to sing.
It was our process to meet every week for a lesson where Topher would teach me the songs I planned to sing on Sunday with the kids. Then, I would teach the songs to the kids on Sunday. Every Sunday I felt anxious. I had less fear presenting to a room of senior business executives than I did teaching these sweet kids new songs. But we all worked together to prepare for a program and eventually sang for the congregation. It wasn’t perfect, it wasn’t pretty, but it was progress and I am so humbly thankful for this experience. After one particularly troubling Sunday I wrote this passage in my journal – “I went to bed last night hurting, and sad, and afraid because being a primary chorister truthfully stresses me out. But I love the kids. Hopefully they feel my love because that may be the only thing I know I have to give. The truth is this calling seems more for my benefit because it pushes me in all the right ways. It forces me to use some creativity and is a break from research and my thinking, analyzing brain. I have to memorize and do multiple things at once, like use my hands, sing, and watch the kids. And those kids! They are darling! It is a Divine calling. And even though I am anxious, days before, I know it is helping me grow. I know God is helping me take baby steps for what is to come in my future….” . Eventually, my assignment ended but I didn’t want to stop learning so I continued my singing lessons.
I wanted to be able to confidently sing one good song. The song, How Great Thou Art, kept coming to my mind and so that’s what I asked Topher to teach me next. Little did I know this was my grandmother’s favorite song. I learned this part after I told my three aunt’s the story. As I sing this song now I imagine the feeling of grandma’s loving arms hugging me tightly. When I get to the third and fourth verse I get choked up. I am still working on that. But the presence of my loving grandmother and my Father in Heaven is palpable. I love that sweet feeling of safety and security. I often find myself singing the words to this song as I drift off to sleep, in hopes of sweet and loving dreams to replace tortured nightmares.
At the same time as learning how to sing, my appreciation for music began to expand. I would find myself singing throughout the day almost as a way of soothing myself. My course work in school has also expanded and as I have learned more about trauma and polyvagal theory I have grown to understand the healing power of singing. Trauma interrupts the autonomic circuitry in our brain and body, undermining the ability to create a sense of safe connection. It is one of the reasons why emotional freedom techniques (EFT) and somatic therapies are so powerful in treating trauma.
Singing is therapeutic because it is a form of guided breathing that exercises the larynx, lungs, heart, and facial muscles. It requires breath control and changes in posture, all of which tone the ventral vagal complex. The vagus nerve is connected to the vocal cords and the muscles at the back of the throat. Stimulating the vagus nerve creates a sense of safety, reduces anxiety and depression, and blocks the release of stress hormones. Interruptions, often caused by trauma, impede the ability to regulate, feel safe, or trust in relationships. By stimulating and toning the ventral vagal system you are literally developing a greater capacity to self regulate, feel safe and build resilience. Wow, how powerful is that?!
I have such a deeper understanding of the saying “He whom the Lord calls, the Lord qualifies”. Before this experience I honestly thought it meant, the Lord considers you qualified, like when you get a certification and are now qualified to do something and so He calls on you. But that isn’t what it is saying at all. I wasn’t thinking of it as the verb it truly is and that He will be there right beside us, guiding us to do hard things, qualifying us along the way. As I am now able to share and help clients, family, and friends in their healing and growing process I see the miracle of this calling.
Miracles don’t always come in the form of a happy ending or a magnificent change. They may be small, seem accidental, or even imperceptible if you are not looking. But I am learning to trust in the Lord and see his hand in my life and the lives of others. So the next time you open a song book, sing with all your might, mind, and heart; allow the songs to open and heal you.