I remember going to my first church service with my grandma. The building smelled of freshly new paint and asphalt. A old hand tightly grasped my hand welcoming me into their new building. After entering the building, a mix of generations, old hymn books, and red carpet filled the pews. The smell of bitter coffee filled the 12 foot ceilings, a old wooden cross was centered on their stage, and stain glass windows stretched alongside the room. Children started leaving the pews and scattered into their classrooms. My heart raced not knowing where I would fit in. Would I have to go to class too? Just then, like my saving grace, someone commanded us to stand up for worship. Everyone slowly lifted their voices singing words that didn’t make sense. Speaking of saints and Thee. How could I sing these songs if they didn’t move me? Do people sing these because they have to, or because they want to? To me they sounded like a bunch of tired souls. No energy in their voice, or excitement for the words coming out of their mouth.
A few years later my grandma did her church shopping once again. This time she brought me into a whole new setting. The church seemed more upbeat, and people looked more awake. Donuts and fresh coffee filled the tables when walking in. My hand felt the same soft skin as mine when greeted at the door. I could hear the beat of the drums rumble the floor and I became curious to see how people would sing here. Would they still repeat the words of saints and thee? When walking into the auditorium darkness and folding chairs welcomed me. The room felt crowded and the lights began to shimmer on the stage. Standing on my feet, seeing the colorful lights, and hearing people shout; This might as well be a rock concert! How could my grandma like this!? People began to clap and sing words making people lift their arms and voices. I could understand the meaning of the song, love for God, grace, forgiveness. The temptation to sing came over me. I didn’t fully understand the love for God, but I wanted to sing these songs. I looked around and listened to see if everyone was singing gracefully. “What if someone hears me and I sound horrible?” I know if I start to sing everyone will hear how terrible I am, especially the people right next to me.
Ten years later, I can still hear the inner voice of, “What if someone hears me, What if I stand out?” I have grown to understand the lyrics of christian songs, and they move me even more than when I first heard them. I can relate to them, because I am a sinner and fail everyday. I have now moved to the question, “How can someone just lift their hand up and worship? Is it something they have special? I would feel so weird to have my hand up in the air.” Shortly after stumbling on this curious habit, I noticed a blind woman worshiping and dancing as the songs played. Her arms spread out in front of her, her smile lifted her mildly aged face, and her body moved to the sound of the music. How could she be happy? Wouldn’t her blindness restrict her from living cheerfully? Then I realized something. She didn’t see all the people around her, her focus wasn’t on the people, it was on God. So I closed my eyes, lifted up the words I knew, and pretended no one was around me. The pressures of what I sounded like and what I looked like left me. I could feel God’s presence. I could feel the holy spirit pour down to me.
It’s not always easy to put our fears aside when worshiping. Some of us get a inner nudge, but brush it off, and return to our seated position. For years I have neglected to try open my heart to something new. In seasons, I become angry, sad, and depressed. I get scared of how I will sound if I lift my screechy voice, or how weird I feel with my arms wide open. Let me let you in on a secret, try it! Eliminate your feelings, open your arms to accept the worship, Close your eyes and feel the music lift inside of you.
- Close your eyes and pretend no one is watching– When you close your eyes you can listen to the words of the song. Closing your eyes prepares you to only focus on the worship, not the fears of anything else (how your worshiping, what others will think, the things going on outside of church, how yours kids are doing)
2. Sing-Don’t worry about what you sound like, or if you’re the worst singer in the world. Trust me, no one will be focused on what you are sounding like. And if so, who cares? Sing like nobody’s listening.
3. Clear your mind-Several times, I find myself reciting words up on the screen and thinking about other things going on. That’s okay. Stop. Recollect. Try to think about what the words mean to you.
4. Listen to your nudges– The first time I felt my body wanting to open my hands and sing I shut those feelings out. I didn’t want to look weird. I didn’t know how it would make me feel, but I am so glad one day I listened to my body. Singing opens your whole body to feel the holy spirit. Opening your hands in worship lets you open your heart for God’s presence. Nudges can be to as simple as opening your heart to feel the worship around you. You don’t have to physically worship, to worship.
5. Don’t tear yourself up– It’s okay if you don’t worship like you want to, or if you don’t sing or lift your hands up. Give yourself time. You are not letting God down. God loves you no matter what you do. He loves all forms of worship.
6. Pray– If you are having trouble worshiping like you want, pray about it. Praying will open your heart to let God heal any wounds stopping you from worshiping like you want.
7. Try Different Worship Styles– I was always curious about the hand thing. So when I first started using my hands for worship I didn’t feel comfortable lifting my hands way up in the air. I've seen friends get down on their knees during worship, others carried away in awe of His presence soaking in the silence. Others pray.What is something you would like to try? Praying during worship, singing, soaking it all in, clapping?