I have to say, if you would have told me a few years ago that I would be asked to guest blog on the topic of being a woman in worship, I would have laughed in your face. Not because I didn’t love God, I did. Not because I wasn’t serving in a church, I was. But because I was left feeling that women in worship were somehow “less than”, that we weren’t as important, that we couldn’t be used by God to do as much as our counterparts and that frankly, no one cared. I am so thankful that Rachel asked me to write for you all, because it has reminded just how much God has worked in my life since that
I’ve been serving on a worship team consistently for the past eight years. A lot can happen in eight years, and musically, everything can change in eight years. And so it has. I was around for the transition from hymns and 90’s praise band style to contemporary worship band. Not easy. I could get into the typical messiness of the transition for all involved but really, as a woman in worship, the effect on me is something I don’t think any of the men we serve with would understand.
I was a young wife at the time, a brand spanking new mom, and 22. I dressed “on trend”, I sang with a loud voice, and I chose not to stand still when I sang. I was a distraction. That’s the most appropriate word for how I was left to feel anyway. I was in a constant battle between being me and being who others thought I should be. Everyone had a comment. I was too dressy. I wasn’t dressy enough. I should wear flats. I should wear heels. I should wear baggier pants. I should look put together……..what?!
By the way, no matter how much anyone says “it’s not personal”, it is. It’s very personal. The hurt goes deep. Here I was with both the heart and skill for this ministry, but all I was ever talked to about was how I could change myself into something someone else felt more comfortable with. And I was alone. There were zero other women to talk to about this. Most times I was the only woman at practices. My female peers didn’t know exactly what to say. The only difference between me and them was that they weren’t on a stage in front of hundreds of people each week. So, all of this to say that I was left feeling that the desire in my heart, to be used by God to lead others in worshipful response to his truth, would never be satisfied.
There was something in me that kept going though. Looking back on it I see how the strength of the Lord carried me through the hurt, through the messiness. I think many young women would have quit and left “church” all together, living a life of hatred towards the church of their parent’s generation. I’ve seen it, our words can drastically pull a person away from God. Apparently God’s plan for me was different. His plan for me was to dig deep into understanding both who I am in Christ and what he has planned for me.
My confidence comes from Jesus, not myself. I know that I am a child of God. I am seen as righteous in his sight. I am forgiven, loved, and accepted. I am an heir of all things in heaven and will be higher than the angels. I have a strength that can do all things. I have a voice to praise God. I am a daughter of the High King and He has a plan for me.
When God uses the people in your life to confirm his plans and promises, it’s amazing. I began to get asked to lead worship at other events. Not long after, the leader of the worship ministry had enough faith in me to talk to leadership and have me not just sing on a Sunday, but actually lead on a Sunday. I got connected to thechurchcollective.com and began writing for their site and connecting to other worship leaders all over the world. I wasn’t alone anymore. I was living out the desire that had burned in my heart for so long. The lies I believed; that I needed to be someone else, that I could never be effective, that I wasn’t good enough, that people wouldn’t take me seriously; they’ve vanished. The people in my life are supportive and encouraging. The people with which I serve and do life with know my heart and who I am. I’m not hurting. I’ve actually been very comfortable. Now that’s a scary word; comfortable. Guess what? God heals hurt, and he stretches comfort.
The church that eight years ago made an uncomfortable transition has grown, has been blessed, and has cast a vision to plant churches all over our county in New Jersey. The first church plant will launch in early 2017 in Toms River, New Jersey, where I will be the worship leader. Scary. Exciting. Terrifying. Fulfilling.
On the days when I was so hurt I would cry to my husband, or worse, cry by myself, the idea of launching a new church as the worship leader couldn’t have even entered my imagination. I was focused on the circumstances around me and ultimately the real distraction, which was the enemy trying to make me quit. The idea that God would fulfill my desire in such a way was beyond comprehension for me.
Worship women, stay strong. Be confident in who you are. I can testify that it’s true, when you are aligned with God your desires match up to his will. You are not alone. It is easier, now more than ever, to connect with other women in our situation. Be a mentor to someone younger. Be an encourager. Worship the Lord with the voice he has given you. Follow his lead and enjoy the ride.
A lot can happen in eight years.