It may not be a stretch to say that my singing is more akin to a wounded wookie than actual music, but you work with what you got. I like to sing. I like to roll the words around in my head and change the way they come off my lips. I like to ponder why a particular song was written.
Singing is a deeply spiritual activity. It allows us to plumb the depths of our emotions tucked underneath the persona we project to the world around us. That doesn’t mean we’re faking life (though it can) it just means there may be parts of our life that we’ve pushed so far down that we don’t even know they are there.
It allows us to express emotions deeply held because God created us to experience them all. Singing affords us the opportunity to process truth vs. lies, faithfulness in relationships, rightesouness and justice, love and joy, anger and sorrow. Sometimes the joy is so palpable that singing just comes out. And sometimes the pain is palpable that singing just comes out. Sometimes singing just won’t come out – and that’s ok.
Something that I’ve pondered with in terms of music and singing is that in our circles, we often receive the message that one should only listen to certain music. I wrestle with this and I struggle with it. Here’s why: all music communicates something of the human experience. Even objectively bad music does. The music we listen to and ultimately sing is a gateway to the inner life of a person. It touches the parts of our life that we can’t necessarily express with words. It is because of its deep spiritual impact that we try to legislate it either by rule of law or exclusion (often simply because we don’t like that particular music selection).
My concern is that how we treat music amongst ourselves is a symptom of a larger problem: that we’re unwilling to be curious about our own inner life and we’re unwilling to care enough about our neighbor to be curious. The words of singer/songwriter Derek Webb in his song “A New Law” ring true here, “Don’t teach me about truth and beauty, just label my music; don’t teach me how to live like a free man, just give me a new law.”
My invitation is this: sing! And my encouragement is this: care enough about yourself and your neighbor to be curious. Who knows? Maybe we’ll discover music we never knew existed. And who knows? Maybe we’ll find God at work in places we never thought to look.