*When they all converge on me and envelop me in blankets, arms, torsos, I find it hard to breathe but my heart pumps steadier than I ever thought it could. Their weight is crushing but it is nothing compared to the stone lifted from my heart.

Sunday was all sorts of mess ups

[late] to church by 10 minutes. Latest ever on my part. Went in completely unaware that it was combined service and haphazardly daydreamed throughout the whole sermon. It was on 1 Corinthians 13. Do everything out of love, a command I failed to follow for the rest of the day.

[leaving] home in a panicked rush, flustered and angry, tears streaming down my cheeks. Unable to find my flats for the concerto competition Monday where I’d have to accompany Nick, I flung the F word left and right as I dug into the mountain pile that is my mother’s shoe closet. [What is life. Where are my shoes. Why is life so hard. Are you freaking kidding me]

My parents ask me to stay until they arrive home and I become increasingly frustrated as the minutes pass by the agreed upon time. My temper erupts when my dad asks suspiciously if I’m leaving in a hurry for RoX and I don’t even recognize my own voice when I spit heated words at him. He backs off and follows me to the door, insisting on getting the door for me even after I snark at him a second time for trying to help hold my things. It appeases me for short while, long enough for me to snap out of my angry slump and hug him from the side. A voice in my head tells me to tell him I love him but I feel like a hypocrite and I whisper it as I whisk out the door, the clanging of the door and rustling of my bag masking my words. I wonder if he hears me, I know he doesn’t hear me and I hate myself in that moment.

[distracted] as my group struggles to finish our project; even after working two hours on it, we’re still not done and I am feeling increasingly tired and frustrated, knowing I have hours more ahead of me before the day ends.

[feeling] worthless, unable, unwilling, useless, there was too much feeling that night and not enough Spirit and I based my state of heart and mind on the circumstances that surrounded me instead of the grace of God. Standing there literally useless as the worship team sets up the sound system, drums, keys; I stood there like a lost child, unable to do anything to help.

[shame] as I spilled out a prayer caring more about what it sounded than the heart behind it. I am running the wrong race.

[tightening] of my throat and fists, when keys are changed and I know without a doubt I have no time to transpose, to improvise; I can’t even hear my own playing with the broken monitor and the noise (it’s noise at that moment, not worship to me) that comes from the other players on the team and I wonder why I’m even playing. I am this close to a breakdown and I contemplate making a break for the door before Fireplace has started.

[pain] as my fingers get progressively tired from pounding on the keys (useless, useless, pounding, no one could hear me, I could not even hear myself) and I start to worry about the state of my hands and whether I will be able to play in good shape for Nick. I flex them and test them and I fluster and anger when I berate myself (this hurts, this sucks) for agreeing to help serve in the first place

[confusion] as I ponder how to worship when my heart is not in it, when I have never understood the meaning of worship, when I’ve never enjoyed doing it unless it was once in a blue moon for church, behind the congregation, behind the players where no one could see. What is worship to me? What am I doing here?

[alone] amidst a team and a crowd of people. Why am I here? What am I doing here?

Fireplace was a brutal wake up call to how much more growing up I have to do. Every time I start to think I’m doing alright, get a little arrogant in my faith, God humbles me. Fireplace was mad humbling.

Getting to do worship with a team of crazy musical, crazy talented, crazy out of their mind for Christ, crazy intentional freshmen was a terrifying experience. Seeing these people three years my junior go into fireplace with such a holy mindset and solid perspective of worship, I felt so out of place, not understanding the meaning of worship, unable to share what it meant to me, not even willing to do it in the first place. Worship (at least musical worship in where I play an instrument) has always been an obligation to me. Something I despised doing, something I never voluntarily offered to do.

Doing it with them made it ten times worse but also infinitely more eye opening. Through them, God led me to search my heart and understand a little bit more about what it means to worship Him.

[one] worship is of the heart

Where was my heart? In myself and for myself. But where were theirs? Their heart was of the Lord and for the Lord.

[two] worship is for God

Had I understood who worship was truly for, I would not have minded that nobody could hear my playing. It is for the Lord and the Lord hears it, no matter how softly or loudly I play. He is the audience.

[three] worship is a way of life

I didn’t “feel” like worshiping that day. I just didn’t have the heart to. I just didn’t have the energy to. Yet, the worship team continued pouring out even after practicing for two hours, even after playing for more, they continued pouring out despite their tired fingers and voices. Worship is done at all times, in all circumstances; it’s living for Him. It is not a feeling.

[four] worship is prayer and praise

A call of “Oh, Lord, I need you,” and an offering of “I love you and I thank you.” But, nowhere that night did I turn to him humbly for comfort or help, nor did I thank Him for the circumstances I was in. I only thought of running away, of getting it over with, of gritting my teeth and suffering through it on my own.

[five] we are made for worship

Why did I fight so hard against worship when that is what my Creator made me to do? Perhaps if I had given in to the tug of the Spirit instead of caving in to the bitterness and hardness of my heart, I would have felt the joy and light that my worship team members did, so evident in their playing and prayers.

*Monday is full of reflection and healing.

I find myself at the boys’ apartment at midnight into 1am or so in the morning, tired but in need of company. They wrap me into a ball with their blankets and man pile on top of me and even though I scream until my voice goes hoarse, I am thankful for the pressure surrounding me from all sides. They squeeze all the shame and feelings of unworthiness out of me and I am reminded that I am still loved, by the people God has placed in my life and also by God Himself. Despite my mistakes, He is full of grace.

Monday morning, I happen to catch a glimpse of a shoebox in my closet at the apt and lo and behold, it’s a sparkly, pointy, black pair of flats and oh how obnoxious they are, does God truly have a sense of humor, but I don’t care because I’m rejoicing because I can now pass as dress formal as an accompanist.

Nick makes it past the first round of the competition and I rejoice because my fingers did not give out and I did not mess him up and he played beautifully and I remembered that I love playing piano the most when I play for the Lord.

/Note: Gracie, if you are reading this, I thank God for you and your willingness to include me in your worship team. And for throwing me way out of my comfort zone and leading me to a place where I can grow in faith. And for asking, “What does worship mean to you?” And for putting up with my immature fits of frustration. You and the team. You guys blow my mind out of the gutter and it’d be a stinkin’ privilege to work with you guys again.