Thursday, May 7, 2015

Do you like yourself?

I awoke too early.  It's always extra early when I'm in Nashville, TN.   Because of the one hour difference in time zones, an already-early-riser is destined to be awake at very uncomfortable hours.

It was my first day to record vocals on my "Inside Things" project and that only added to my sleeplessness. I call it the "Nashville Adrenaline".  For some reason, I have boundless energy when I'm there.  I love being there, recording, writing and just spending time developing relationships in the music industry.  I don't do 'tourist' kinds of things.

If people ask me what to do when they visit Nashville, I recommend the Bluebird Cafe, The Pancake Pantry, and down-town Franklin, but other than that, most people will never see where I spend my time in town.  Studios, homes of friends, homes with studios and anywhere else my music takes me.  It's all about relationships and that's what I love most about Franklin and Nashville.

The first song we would be recording was "Wonderfully Created".  I had been inspired with the song idea just as I was leaving to spend the weekend at a slumber party for girls and their theme was Fearfully and Wonderfully Created.  It was a very unusual 'gig' and I was nervous about doing it. It had been a long time since I stayed up really, really late with a bunch of girls.

Just as I was packing up stuff in my studio, a little melody and phrase came to me and I've learned when that happens that the best thing I can do is sit down and let it flow.  The re-write will come later.  For now, just write what comes under inspiration.  You can sweat about it later.

Now, back in Nashville, I decided to read Psalm 139 again, hoping to refresh my soul with what my vocal cords would soon have to express. It would be just me and Mr. mic in the vocal booth for the day. The producer and engineer are in another room. I like it that way.

As I read through the familiar passage, as I had so many times before, something new caught my eye. Psalm 139:14 says "I praise you for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.  Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well." (ESV).  I smiled and thought to myself; how nice that David can say that.  Suddenly, within my spirit, I sensed the voice of God's Spirit.  "I'd like you to thank me for making you".


I sat there, stunned. It was sweet to read of someone else having those sentiments.  But now I felt like God was asking me to acknowledge (out loud with my mouth) that I too was wonderfully created. "Such a beautiful song to sing - now I'd like you to believe it", He seemed to whisper.

It evoked such emotion in me that I was speechless.  Well...sort of.

"I don't have time for a therapy session right now, Lord, I said in my speechless state. I have to go record a song to share with people so they know how wonderful they are. And please don't make me thank you for making me complex TOO! David did.  I hate my introspective, complex self. I'm weary of it.  Why can't I be care-free and simple?".

The conversation between He and I continued.

"I don't feel like I'm wonderful", I said. "In fact, most of the time I don't like myself at all. I never weigh the right amount, my teeth don't have that nice clean bite that most people have."  (I should have taken my mother up on the offer to get braces as a teenager, but I felt like she was insinuating that I wasn't pretty because of my teeth, so I resented her offering that.)  I was too young to process my thoughts at that age.  I'm sure she was only trying to help. I couldn't hear her well because my ears were plugged up with my own insecurity.

I wish I could re-do some things. How about you?

In response to my outburst with the Lord, I could hear His gentle whisper now.  "Just start.  Ok, so you can't be thankful that you are complex, can you start by thanking me for making you?"

I sat for a while.  I couldn't answer this right now.  But I did bow my head and ask Him to help me. "Thank you for making me", I said.  Half out loud and half not.

That was over 8 years ago.  Do I still have days when I don't like myself?  Absolutely!
Most recent photo shoot.
Showing my teeth.

I used to avoid smiling and showing my teeth at photo shoots because I don't like my teeth.  The photographer has to practically 'pull my teeth' to get me to show them.

But over time, I have been more intentional about thanking God out loud for making me when that dark cloud of self-hatred starts coming my way. As I learn to accept the complexity with which I operate from, He's also helping me to be more care-free and not take things so seriously.

As I cooperate with Him, He helps me to see myself in a much more positive light.

As I arrived at the studio that morning to start the project of "Inside Things", believe me, I had already had quite a work out on the inside things.  It started with Psalm 139.

So I ask you again.  Do you like yourself?

If this song can help you appreciate the beauty of how intricately you were made, then perhaps my little therapy session that morning was worth it.

View video/song here.