My fingers have been itching to write over the past couple of weeks, but carving out time to do so is just not happening on a regular basis.
It’s cold today here, at least by North Texas standards. My spine hurts, my fingers hurt, my knees hurt, and my hips hurt. I don’t know if there is a joint in my body that is not aching today. Maybe the one in my little toe…
But I digress. This cold, dreary weather is an accurate reflection of the inside of me at the moment. My spiritual temperature is lukewarm. I feel cluttered and dirty inside. Just like the drawers in my kitchen, I am jumbled and confused.
Today I had one of those Mommy Meltdowns. It was so sweet to hear my daughter try to build my spirits up:
Me: I hate my cluttered life!
Her: You hate me?
Me: Of course not! (Tears begin to flow) I hate my cluttered drawers and cluttered closets. I hate the clutter in the cabinets and the clutter in my heart. I haven’t been eating right, when I bother to eat at all, and I haven’t been exercising. (mumbling through a torrent of tears while navigating the car through forty mph winds) I hate the fact that I can’t properly teach you how to be orderly because I don’t know how to do it myself!
Her: I think you just said a cuss word?
Me: I hate the fact that I can’t teach yo how to be orderly because I don’t know how to do it myself!
Her: Mom, I think you just need to rest. You don’t have to check email all the time. (out of the mouths of babes….) You don’t have to stand there and do my math with me. I am capable of doing it by myself. I can read my history. If you need a break, just take one! Go read! Go have fun!
At this point in our conversation, I realized how wonderful my daughter is and how blessed I am to have her. I also realized something about myself — I don’t know how to play.
I am seriously deficient in the play part of life. I do not feel fulfilled unless I am completing a task. My free time is eaten up with email and other Classical Conversation business (I direct a local campus) or Heart for Homeschooling co-op (I am on the board) and with Facebook. Or with downloading my photos or creating another brochure. Or laundry. Or dishes. Or cooking.
The only leisure activity I really know how to do is read. Yet the only time I have available to read is in the evenings….and this is a bad thing for family time because when I read, I really GO places. I get lost in the story and block out everything else around me. Too much of that is not good for my family.
Board games irritate me. I don’t know why, but they do. I sit and try to play Scrabble or Go Fish or CatchPhrase and end up with a creepy, irritated feeling crawling over me. It’s weird. Ditto with video games. Yuck. Not my idea of fun.
I used to enjoy painting. I’d get lost for hours in a painting…which is why I don’t do paintings anymore. I no longer have time to get lost, to abandon myself to anything, much less to the Lord!
Which brings me to another topic. Disappointment. Restlessness. Hope. The Holy Spirit.
I belong to a Fellowship Bible Church that recently (within the past two years) opened a new building. I have the most wonderful friends at this church. The teaching is very solidly Bible-based. Yet I’ve been feeling restless. I’m trying to figure out if that restlessness is a product of my selfishness or if it is a stirring by God for something different…something more spirit-filled.
There is a woman who recently led the children’s worship time. She composed beautiful motions to go along with the songs, and her heart was IN it! There was something powerful and incredibly beautiful about the way she abandoned herself to the words and the meaning, and it came through in her motions. I was moved to tears as she led the children in a very authentic, heart-felt prayer, and I found myself wishing that the adult worship experience could be as free as the children’s.
When I first began going to my church, I was one of a few people who raised their hands up in worship. Even when the worship leader exhorts people to do so, most don’t. Lately I haven’t, either, because I haven’t “felt” it. Does that make sense? And so I sing with my mouth but not with my soul.
Which makes me wonder…is the Lord leading me to a different church body? Or is He prompting me to do something else within this body? Is my inability to play somehow a product of me doing something wrong spiritually…of unconfessed sin, or unforgiveness, or incomplete understanding of the Holy Spirit? Incomplete belief?
I have one more Sunday of teaching Sunday School, and then I am stepping down. Even I realize I need rest. Perhaps the extra rest will give my soul the space and time it needs to reconnect spiritually.
Worshipping in sprit is what I crave, and it is what my Jesus said I am to do:
23Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. 24God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth.” John 4:23-24
I deeply want to be the kind of worshiper the Father seeks. I want to worship Him with my soul, with all that I am, and not just with my mouth.
3 thoughts on “Singing with my mouth…but not with my soul”
A couple of years ago when we were church-hunting this was a major issue for us, too. The church that we left (because we did not agree with the prosperity preaching that had taken over there) was VERY boisterous with praise and worship. We absolutely loved the atmosphere of praise that very often left me trembling and in tears. I miss it to this day.
As we visited churches I was amazed at how most of them treated the singing portion of the service as a spectator sport! Just standing there, many not even bothering to sing along…or if they did it was just mindlessly and joylessly. I didn’t get it. Praise and worship was my favorite part of the service! After being in those churches I simply left feeling grieved and empty.
In the end we finally found a church that had at least a fraction of what we’d come to expect in worship. Sadly, even a couple of years later there are many services I leave feeling grieved, knowing that God wasn’t worshiped in the way He deserves (not that we ever really COULD worship Him in the way He deserves…but you know what I mean!) and I want to cry.
I know my OWN worship style has suffered a bit over the past couple of years. I often feel like I want to go back to the old church, if only for praise and worship time, but I don’t know if that is what God wants. I often feel convicted that I allow the atmosphere around me to dictate my OWN worship time. It’s just that I can almost FEEL the Spirit of God being frustrated due to the lack of response from those around me…even those leading the worship on stage!
All that said just to say that I understand. 🙂 The way I’ve tried to deal with my own discontent in this church is to determine to praise/worship in the way I know I should, and maybe God will use my praise as encouragement to others around me to do the same. Perhaps I’ll serve as a reminder to someone that we are singing TO GOD, not just ABOUT Him!
(As a complete side note — because I haven’t gone on long enough already, right? — years ago our old church sang a song with the lyrics ‘demons tremble at the sound of Your name’ and to this day I sometimes imagine the demons cowering in the rafters during praise and worship time. Just the thought of it reminds me that our praise is POWERFUL and that it isn’t casual. It tends to ramp me back up again on the days I struggle to connect with God during the singing! Let the rest of them be wimpy with it if they want…but not me!)
Thanks for sharing your story with me. I started a book yesterday called Surprised by the Spirit. It’s great so far!