Recently I have been thinking a lot about how much I miss having music as a regular part of my life. From taking piano lessons when I was little, to church choir, middle school band, choir, and lots of high school groups, music has always been prominent; not to mention it seemed like someone at home was almost always singing or playing some instrument. In high school I enjoyed all that I did related to music, but in retrospect, I think I took those opportunities for granted.
During our senior year, people were always asking me/assuming I was going to study music in college, but I knew that I did not want to make a career of it. Those same people always followed with something to the effect of, “Well, make sure you don’t stop singing!” I always told myself I didn’t want to, and that I wouldn’t, but sometimes that’s a little more difficult than it sounds. I don’t have a place to sing or play regularly like I did all throughout high school, and I miss that. I want to make more room for music. For sure one of my goals for after school is to devote more time to playing the guitar and singing, and to get involved in a group/church/something where I can sing. I know it will be good for my spirit.
My first year in college, I was in the American University gospel choir, and it was one of the best experiences of my life. That year was definitely one of the most challenging, lonely times I’ve ever had, but for at least 3 hours of rehearsal each week I felt like I wasn’t alone.
There is something about gospel music that just wraps around me like nothing else. That is the best way I know how to describe the feeling I have when I listen to it. It just makes me feel like God is wrapped around me– comforting me, strengthening me. It is powerful music– lyrically, dynamically, instrumentally. There’s this Kurt Carr song called “For Every Mountain” that we sang in my first concert at AU, and I still remember the feeling I had when we started rehearsing it and I really comprehended what I was singing– “For every mountain you’ve brought me over/For every trial you’ve seen me through/For every blessing/Hallelujah/For this I give you praise.” At a time when I felt so alone and like I wasn’t going to be able to make it by myself much longer, God reassured me through this music and community of singers.
When I sang with that choir, I felt surrounded by a community of faith that reached out to God through music. I knew I was singing about something I truly believed. There was always such a feeling I would get when I realized that we were all making this joyful noise because we believed in a love that is so much bigger and stronger than any of us, or any of our fears or doubts or struggles.
In the spring of that school year, the director of the choir sent me an e-mail saying he had a song called “My Help” that he thought would fit me well. He asked if I would look it over and consider auditioning for the solo. I was kind of floored when I read the note, because I didn’t really think Sylestea (the director) knew me by name. At the same time, I was so excited and of course started learning the song on the spot. I don’t usually get nervous before singing, but at the next rehearsal when it was my turn to go through the solo, I got so nervous. I wanted it bad, because the song meant a lot to me, and I felt I had been given an opportunity to share my gift and really feel like I was part of the group.
Anyway, I ended up singing that song, and it meant (and still means) more than almost any other song I have ever sung. How did Sylestea know he should ask me to sing that song? That it would fit my voice well? That I wanted desperately to try out for a solo, but that I just needed a little nudge? How did he know that I needed to be comforted and reminded that if I seek God, I will be helped? I am sure it was God, and I am so thankful.