Saturday, 7 January 2017

Singing. Good for the soul.

If you are one of those people who love to sing and are blessed with a beautiful voice, you can stop reading right now. This isn’t for you.

No, I’m speaking for those of us who have struggled to hold a tune, were never picked for the school choir and who have learned, from a very early age, to mouth the words whenever there is the chance that someone else might hear them.

I’m one of those women. That’s why I like to worship with a large and very, very noisy band. I don’t like to hear myself attempting to singI LOVE worship songs - the lyrics, the melodies and even the (sometimes) seemingly endless repetition of some of the choruses.

But I still wish I could sing properly. I carry the tune in my head, where it is faultless, but what comes out of my mouth is sadly lacking.  My voice is quite low-pitched and often I can’t sing with other women. My best singing experiences have been in a large formal church setting where there was a choir with a number of bass and tenor singers. It was a satisfying experience to growl along with the men.

But, as that doesn’t happen very often, I have learned to sing silently. It’s just kinder to everyone else.

Until one day I came across these Scriptures:
I, even I, will sing to the Lord; I will praise the Lord, the God of Israel, in song.” Judges 5:3, NIV.

Therefore I will praise you, Lord, among the nations; I will sing the praises of your name.” 2 Samuel 22:50 NIV

And so on. And on. The Psalms are full of sung praises to God. Out loud. Singing in the Bible was never in silence – it wouldn’t have been singing, otherwise.

I realised that it wasn’t enough to just sing in my head and my heart, good though that was: I actually had to sing with my mouth. Ouch. I mean, I don’t even like the sound of my own voice.

But I did sing. Alone, where no one could hear me.

As I sang out loud, I began to discover all kinds of benefits.

Singing aloud aligned my heart to God. I experienced a deep sense of peace and release from worry as I entered the workplace.  I usually felt calmer and, often, more joyful: Psalm 71:23 says, “My lips will shout for joy when I sing praise to you – I whom you have delivered.
Singing was a deeply satisfying way of connecting my heart to God’s.
I experienced the truth of Psalm 63:5, which says: I will be satisfied as with the richest of foods; with singing lips my mouth will praise you.”

Singing aloud changed my attitude. When I was finding my relationship with one of my bosses challenging, I read 2 Chronicles 20:22: “As they began to sing and praise, the Lord set ambushes against the men of Ammon and Moab and Mount Seir who were invading Judah, and they were defeated.” (NIV)  Singing praises to God defeated the wiles of the enemy. My boss didn’t leave, but something shifted and I no longer felt harassed by her.

And, amazingly – because I never expected this – I found that my singing improved. As I sang, the practice released inhibitions and I was able to begin to pitch my voice more correctly. I learned to choose the right key in which to sing and began to gently harmonise when my voice’s range did not enable me to reach high notes.

I extended the practice of singing loudly in my car to singing quietly when I walked or cycled. The spiritual benefits far outweighed any potential embarrassment!

So, join me, even if – especially if – you think you can’t sing. You can. And you, with the voice of an angel, who has just read to the end of this despite the Health Warning at the start? Please sing whenever and wherever you can – loudly and enthusiastically. You are a blessing to the world and I thank you.

Even if a little part of me is still a tiny bit envious. I’m working on it.

This was my second attempt, which I submitted to  Unsuccessfully, but never mind, Writing is good for my soul, too. I might try again next time....

Listening. in silence. with grief. and thankfulness

A couple of weeks ago, I thought I'd have a go at becoming an guest writer: an ambitious undertaking at which I was not successful: they chose 22 submissions out of 150. (Which was not as much as I thought, but nevertheless...) 

So now I am free to post my little attempts. This is the first:

To the lonely, the grieving, the newly-orphaned, the empty-nesters. Words of comfort.

It catches me unawares, this sudden grief. It deluges me as I pack the Christmas ornaments away, each little memento reminding me of Christmases past when my family was together. When we were all younger and the veil of Past Christmases casts its rosy glow over my memories.

Or I am flooded with regret, as I look back at relationships now gone for ever, as family members have passed on. The Shouldhaves shout loudly at my bruised heart which aches from lost opportunities.

And then there is simply the loneliness as a friend moves away or a spouse is lost.

And I, too, am lost. Sliding down a helter-skelter, buffeted by feelings.

I sit, alone, in a silent room. And start listening.

My heart brings Scripture to me. Psalm 34:17 - 18: “The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them;
he delivers them from all their troubles. The Lord is close to the broken-hearted  and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”

He does? I think. I know that what the Bible says is true. It doesn’t feel like that, though, so I grab the words with my mind, hanging my thoughts onto the precious words. I repeat them to myself, again and again. The Lord is close to the broken-hearted. He saves those who are crushed in spirit. I am crushed. He saves me. He saves me.

And the still small voice inside my heart whispers: “Be thankful.
And I remember:

But may all who seek you rejoice and be glad in you;

may those who long for your saving help always say, ‘The Lord is great!’