It’s hard to know where to begin when I talk about playing guitar. If we were to start at the very beginning, I think we’d have to go back to the first night I sang with the band at Faith. I was completely and totally unfamiliar with singing with guitars and drums. But over the next several years I gained a comfort, a love, an appreciation and a passion for band-led worship. And with the encouragement of some of my guitar-playing friends, I invested in a guitar of my own.
It should be noted that there were people who were supportive and there were others who were not so much. My dear Mom sat and listened to me painfully muddle my way through songs on her visits. I struggled, but I persevered. I was able to gently tune out the people who said I’d never be able to learn. But it wasn’t easy to keep going. It wasn’t easy not to give up.
And give up, I did. A few times. I got pregnant with Reagan and soon it became physically impossible for me to keep playing guitar. But several months after Reagan was born and the colic began to slowly recede, I asked my guitar-playing friend, Jeremy, for some help. I needed actual lessons. I needed someone to tell me what to work on this week, what I was doing well, how well (or not well) I was progressing, what I was doing wrong. And most importantly, to encourage me not to give up.
So I worked countless hours in my basement. Just me working my fingers into calluses and gaining a familiarity with chords, strumming patterns, and some theory here or there. I was still very much a busy Mom and my progress was super slow. By the time I felt like I was beginning to get somewhere, I was pregnant again with Madison. So once again, several months went by where I didn’t play.
But with two sleeping kids upstairs, I picked it back up and found I was getting better. Quite a bit better.
One day I stumbled across a youtube video of the band Jesus Culture doing the song How He Loves Us. And it all just clicked. I loved the song immediately. I danced with a tiny baby sleeping on my shoulder and Reagan beside me. I looked up the chords and was giddy when I realized I could probably play it myself. I started to play it, and play it, and play it. It became Reagan’s favorite song, incidentally.
I felt like I might be ready. Like I might have something someone else would like to hear. So I asked Jeremy to listen with a gentle, but critical ear one evening after praise team practice. He did and when I was finished I knew by his reaction that it was time. That I was ready to check off one of the things on my bucket list.
After several months, the perfect service for my self accompanied guitar solo landed at my feet. I spent weeks working, practicing, preparing, playing, getting butterflies.
On Sunday, July 25, 2010, I carried my guitar into church, did a sound check with some of my closest friends listening, and then waited nervously through a powerful service. A service so fittingly about faithfulness.
Self-accompaniment, I’ve heard, can be difficult. I am used to (to the point of dependency) having at least one other person beside me on a piano or guitar. But this day it was only me, and I clung to the neck of that guitar like a lifeline. None of the bad things happened. I didn’t break a string, drop my pick, totally miss a chord. It went fine.
But it was a powerful moment for me. Because I sang to the people who loved me through years of learning to play an instrument. Their smiles made that moment so very special to me – one I will just never forget. I sang to the family of God, the family of God that I love so very much, about how much He loves us. And I was relieved and happy to find that message was so much more central to that piece of music than who was playing it and singing it. He was faithful to love me, to bring me to that morning.
And I could see very clearly how He had orchestrated every step of the way – every person who helped me – every encouraging word – every opportunity to learn more – every moment that brought me closer to the morning of His faithfulness.
I tend to limit Him, unthinkingly. I tend to say to people now that I don’t think I’ll really get that much better at guitar playing. That it’s just a fun hobby for me – one that I love but one that will never be as good as others I know. And then I am reminded of the girl who sang for the first time with the band all those years ago. She was so nervous. She didn’t have a clue what she was doing. She was filled with doubt. And I see the morning of July 25, 2010, where I played and sang surrounded by people I loved dearly – all nervousness slowly melting away into nothing. I see my faithfulness in playing, I see their faithfulness in encouraging me and loving me, and I see His faithfulness in my life and I know that there is simply nothing in this world that He cannot do, that He would not do, for those he loves. How He loves us so.