Before I even opened my eyes this morning, a song was on my heart.
“My soul …. Put your hope in God. Put your hope in God. Put your hope in God. Be still my soul.”
It was a song I learned last fall from the worship team I had just recently joined.
I spent several years singing at our old church on the team. Then the losses hit, and my participation was scanty at best. It was hard to sing when my natural inclination was to cry at every worship song.
My heart worshipped. But my voice broke, and I managed to only whisper the words.
You can’t help lead worship when you can’t sing the words.
And so I took a break. And when the break was misunderstood, I bowed out altogether.
I began realizing I was craving a change. But I loved our worship team. It was the tie that held me in. And when that tie was broken, Ryan and I realized that nothing was keeping us at a church that just didn’t fit what we were looking for.
For lots of reasons, I needed a change. I had realized that I had never chosen this church. It was chosen by my sister who wanted my help in children’s ministry. It was chosen by my in-laws who went there since they were kids and raised Ryan there. When Ryan and I got married, there was no talk of where we would settle in. We just settled.
It was hard to start looking around. I’m not the kind of person that just arbitrarily changes churches. But after about a year of indecision, we made a switch to our current church. And while on the outside I loved it, I still felt like a visitor every Sunday.
We joined a small group, which helped a little.
Finally, I decided it was time to sing again. I tried out for the worship team, and loved it.
The first time, the worship leader had me sing “Upon the waters.” Oh my goodness, I was so nervous. I am an alto, and love to sing harmony. I don’t think of myself as a soloist. It was so nerve wrecking, but turned out well, and I am so glad I did it.
Another song I learned was “Put your hope in God.”
A simple tune … An excellent reminder.
Being back on the team felt like redemption in a way. Loss had stolen my voice … And I found it yet again. Loss took a ministry away … And years later, I could use my love for singing to serve Him once again.
I wanted to sing for years with them.
I only sang twice.
Maddy and I both I tried out for the play Fiddler on the Roof at our church shortly after joining the worship team. I was cast as Tzeitel, and she was a villager. (Excuse me for a second while I reminisce.)
During Fiddler, I had to push pause again on singing. The time commitment was too great, and I knew I would burn my family out. The play lasted several months, and two weeks after our final curtain call …. Z went home.
Z went home.
It is now June. At the end of this month, Z will have been gone for 6 months. A year and a half of loving him. A half a year of missing him.
We are still waiting for any sign of hope that we will see him again. In the wake of his transition, I stopped going to church. It was too painful to be in a place where reminders of him were everywhere. A place where many people didn’t know why we went from 3 children to 2 … And I wasn’t up for fielding questions. It was a reminder of normal families, most of whom never went from a family of 5 to a family of 4. My world felt topsy-turvy. I didn’t want to be around “normal.”
Right before we got pregnant, I started attending again. And then due to morning sickness, I’ve only made it a few times since. And during worship, I find that I simply whisper-cry the songs.
It appears I have lost my voice for a time again. This time, though, it’s not all due to grief.
I miss Z with everything in me. But I’m grateful I can still trust God with Z in his absence. And I am overwhelmingly thankful that God has decided to give us hope yet again.
When Z left at Christmastime, I wondered if I would ever find joy in the season again. I love Christmas … But Olivia’s anniversary is 5 days before Christmas. And the day we thought we were bringing home a newborn to adopt also happened right before Christmas.
And so when last year’s holiday was so literally wrapped up in the difficult transition, the uncertainty of any of his days with us, with the literal packing up of his life, and finally the day we said good-bye … I knew I would dread Christmastime next year. It would mean memories. And it would mean a year has gone by after he left out family.
And so when I got the due date of December 6 … I was nervous. History told me it would be an empty due date. I didn’t want something else to remember.
But in God’s mercy, this baby is still with us. I have no idea how other than a miracle. But as far as we can see right now, God’s given us another reason to have hope. Another reason to celebrate this Christmas. Another baby to be born.
And gratefulness for that keeps my voice breaking, my tears flowing, and my worship a sacrifice of praise. A whisper-cry of gratitude mingled with a bit of grief.
One day, I hope I can get on stage again and sing with all that is in me. I hope to find my voice again. And I still hope that when that time comes, Z will still have some small part in our lives again.
In the meantime and in the waiting … I choose to put my hope in God.