I am a performer.
In every sense of the word.
Performers are taught to be good at something, and use it to grab people’s attention – preferably in the first 30 seconds of being on a stage.
And yes, performers have a stage. A platform on which to show why they are worth paying attention to.
I grew up in a family band, where we traveled around in a motor home and played five shows a week around the Midwest. I began to sing with the family band when I was three years old.
There are recordings. There are pictures. It was CUTE.
Being a three year old singing regularly on stages, I began to become familiar with ‘ooh-ing and ahh-ing’, cheek pinching, and compliments;
And I began to become familiar with what caused that praise to happen;
And not much has changed.
When something continues to happen for long enough, you can easily become dependent on it. You begin to need it. You become addicted to it.
Over the years I have learned that when I do what I’m good at in front of people, I have a higher chance of getting my daily dose of praise, which I have learned to become dependent on in order to feel ok. In order to feel worthwhile.
I had a reality check with this last year.
I had been feeling discouraged about music on a regular basis, and a trusted leader of mine saw this as a red flag and started asking questions.
I began to check my heart about what my real desires were within my pursuit to be a musical artist. Through this deep heart-dive, I realized that I felt as though becoming successful in music would be the ultimate affirmation. That widespread success would quell my insecurities, and fulfill something deep inside me that questioned my worth. That people knowing my name and respecting what I do would make me feel secure – important – exciting – welcome – accepted. So ultimately…fame would make me feel better about myself. Yikes.
This trusted leader of mine was concerned about what I found on my heart check, as he should be, and said something very uncomfortable; ”You might want to ask the Lord if you’re supposed to let music die.”
I guess one never quite knows how much of themselves is wrapped up in a thing until the question is posed to give it up.
I sat with this proposition. Asked the Lord about it. Processed it. And realized that somewhere along the way, my genuine, pure love and excitement for music had shifted, and music had become something it was never meant to be. It had become my identity and my worth, and I needed to let it go.
So I did. And it hurt.
I watched my friends continue to make their albums and go on tours. I watched them be affirmed over and over in their performances and musical endeavors. I watched the ‘ooh-ing and ahh-ing’ from afar while I died to my need to be the one doing something worth their praise.
A few months later, our church put on our annual women’s conference. It’s a big conference with lots of people and it was an honor to be a part of. I led worship for the first day of the conference. It went really well. Which is an ironic statement to begin with; ’Praising God went well’…as if there’s a way that praising God could not have gone well if it really truly is ONLY about praising God. Funny how even what we do for God can so quickly become about us.
And then I lost my voice.
And sure, that happens every once in a while, but my voice didn’t get better. For the next month and a half, I couldn’t sing. I couldn’t even talk without it feeling like something was wrong.
So I was already grieving the loss of my musical pursuits as an artist, but now I couldn’t sing. I couldn’t even lead worship. I couldn’t do the thing I was specifically doing for God. It was as if music in every form was being stripped from me layer by layer, and now my voice itself was stripped away.
I was no longer ‘Megan the singer’. I became acutely and uncomfortably aware that I was just Megan the girl.
I found myself in places with singers and musicians, desperate for these people to know that I sing – that I do something that makes me special. Desperate for them to know I have something that makes me likeable and worth their praise.
But I couldn’t get affirmation in what I did well because I couldn’t do it anymore. I couldn’t find security in the gift that God had given me, because I couldn’t use it at the moment. I couldn’t even receive a sense of worth in how ‘well’ I was serving God – because no one could see it.
The platform and the praise were gone. And since music couldn’t be ‘who I was’ anymore, I had to figure out who Megan the girl was.
Time went by and I started to feel something I had never felt before.
I had nothing to offer anyone except for who I was.
One by one the Lord had snipped away everything my identity was tied to. And when everything was snipped away, I was left with just me.
And that’s when I discovered who I am.
I am a daughter of a Father who wants me to know that being His daughter is the only place I’ll ever need to look to find my worth.
You see, we often get caught up in our ‘gifts’ and what we can DO for the Lord in order to carry out our purpose.
But I’m here to tell you that’s not it. We are not what we do. And our performance does not carry our purpose.
We are daughters and sons. WHO WE ARE carries our purpose.
Whatever we are anointed to do, we could do it at any point, in any place, at any time. What you are anointed to do, you could do in the grocery store, working at McDonalds, or on the Grammy stage.
Because it has never been what you do, but who you are.
‘Doing’ does not make you worthwhile. Being you makes you worthwhile because He made you worthwhile before you could do anything.
When we know our identity apart from what we do, everything else is just icing on the cake. We can be who we are wherever that takes us. Stage or no stage. Praise or no praise.
We can stop performing. Look no further than your daughtership, your sonship, and you’ll find you have nothing else to prove.
You’re doing a good job. I take that back. You’re being a good job.
Ready, set, BE.