Best Ever

Best Ever

Have you ever had a moment of realization and growth that you felt really good about suddenly turn around and kick you in your face? I have. Just this past week. There I was, fresh off my last post about not being afraid to let go of things because even if it’s the best you’ve ever had, it’s not the best that God can do and then 17 minutes later I’m crying because I have just written one of the best lines ever and I don’t want to give it away.

For a year now I’ve been working with an up and coming artist on his debut album. It’s a project that started out small and no-budget, but has grown and now has some pretty serious steam and momentum behind it. I started the gig as a favor and didn’t spend a whole lot of time thinking about the future of it, but dammit… this kid has got the goods. And he’s gonna make it. And my writing is part of that. And overall, working on this album has been a great experience. Within every song there have been moments of inspiration and frustration and some point where I hated everything about it and wanted to quit. And then just past that… somehow… it would all come together. And we’d be on to the next one.

And it’s not my album, but there are obviously pieces of me all throughout it. And there are moments and lines that I really love in each song, but there have only been three times when the writing has actually moved me to tears. And for two of those times, it wasn’t the brilliance of my lyrics as much as how they stepped right on something I was feeling at the moment. But the third one… I thought “Wow. This is a really good lyric.” And I got really sad at the thought of giving it away.

Because what if I never write something that good for myself? What if I’ve peaked and it was all for someone else? So for a good 24 hours, I had to do some soul-searching. Because it’s easy for me to let go of places and things, I know money comes and money goes, but what about what I really have to give? My gifts and my talents, my words and creativity — what do I do with this urge to hold back, to be selfish, to keep the best for someday for myself?

Well, I wish I could say I heard the voice of God say “Don’t be silly! Of course you haven’t peaked!” but I didn’t. If I heard anything it was just the question being thrown back at me “So what if you have?” What if the greatest work I ever do and the best contributions I ever make are on behalf of other people… would that really be the worst thing?

Honestly… Yes. Because God’s not done with me and I am still extremely selfish. But also… No. The worst thing would actually be to hold back today’s creativity and then spend too many tomorrows trying to shoehorn it in somewhere it never belonged.

So I let the lyric go. I gave it away. And now, looking back with the added wisdom and experience of approximately 6 days, it’s actually laughable to me what a legitimate struggle that was. I still think the lyric is amazing, but as I was working on some lyric ideas for one of my shows yesterday, I could feel the old magic lurking and I knew, I know that I’m only scratching the surface of what’s possible. Because God doesn’t compartmentalize generosity – He’ll honor any area we choose to live with an open hand in.

So I’m really grateful for this album project. For many reasons. But mostly for how much it’s stretching me. And teaching me. And reminding me that experiencing that Ephesians 3:20 better-than-you-can-ask-or-imagine means having to let go of whatever I could ask or imagine and probably thought was the best thing ever.

Because **spoiler alert**: it gets better.

Sick and Sorry

Sick and Sorry

“Is it too late now to say sorry?”
Abraham Lincoln
(or Justin Bieber. I always get those two confused.)

I felt sick for all of February. Every single day. And I’m pretty sure it actually started sometime in January, possibly even December, but February was when I actually noticed that I consistently didn’t feel good and hadn’t for a while. And it was nothing major or unbearable – no pain, just a constant feeling of being slightly nauseous. All. the. time. Hungry, full – didn’t matter. In fact, the only time I didn’t feel sick was when I was literally in the act of eating. It was like my body would think “Ooh! Maybe this will help!” but it wouldn’t. And within 5 to 10 minutes, I’d be back to feeling BLAH. And so, naturally, like any reasonable adult with health insurance and a will to live, I thought about going to the doctor. I thought about it a lot. I even looked up my insurance card and spent a fair amount of minutes on the interwebs trying to find an “in network” provider, but the doctors with the best reviews and most human-like photos were booked solid until April, May, 2019 and the other ones were a little too available (why is your next available opening at 11am when it’s 10:45 right now??) So I did eventually book an appointment (for April 14th, I do believe. hashtag: adulting) but in the meantime, I figured I’d keep soldiering on, bravely, nobly. Handling all the stresses and responsibilities of life in New York, all the while suffering. Silently. Bravely. Nobly.

And then I figured out what was wrong. And I’m sitting here today feeling absolutely fine. As fate (and probably genetics and age) would have it, I do believe I have become lactose intolerant. So now that I’m not having milk in my tea, eating ice cream like it’s my job or downing Chai lattes, I’m feeling a-ok. Which is great. But in looking back, this whole experience has been fascinating because it made me realize how easy it is to get used to functioning at a sub-prime standard. To be feeling sick while carrying on as if its normal. Because as far as anyone else knows – everything is normal. You’re normal. And doing just fine.

But I wasn’t. And I’m still not. Because it wasn’t just my stomach that was bothering me. My soul has been sick for all of 2017 thus far. The poor thing feels like she’s wasting away. Actually… no. Wasting away sounds like a problem of lack, so I guess my soul is actually on the verge of imploding from the weight of everything that I’m not doing.

I came into 2017 with solid ideas of things that I wanted to do, goals to accomplish, endeavors to… endeavor. And here we are with the first quarter of the year very nearly over and what have I done? Basically, nothing. I hosted one disaster/reading in January and have been fixated on everything I don’t have and can’t do ever since. And it’s ruining everything. I can’t enjoy anything because I feel convicted all the time. I went to see a friend in a show last week, a terrible TERRIBLE show (my friend was amazing) and I was so mad. Not at the show or the writers, but at myself. Because what the hell am I doing? The team of people behind that terrible (TERRIBLE) show actually sat down, made a plan, found supporters, held auditions and produced something. Middling talent and absolute terribleness, be damned – they did something. And people came and saw it. I know because I was one of those people. Because my friend, my insanely wonderfully talented friend, was in it. Because my friend just wants to work. And those terrible (TERRIBLE) writers produced work. And meanwhile… I’m sitting over here fixated on what I don’t have and can’t do.

And my friends deserve better than that.

So I probably owe you an apology. And please believe, if you have talked about/asked for prayer re:/mentioned in passing any of your audition stories/struggles, you wouldn’t have known it, but I have felt convicted. And if you have joked/not been joking about auditioning for me someday (which an annoying number of you have recently, #jesusbecreeping) please know that I probably went home and cried about it. Which is exactly what I deserve.

Earlier today, I saw that quote about strength being for service and not status and it just hit me how that covers all the different kinds of strengths it takes to step out and do something – not just the talents and skills, but the strength of will it takes to face possible ridicule, failure and falling short – because somebody has to do it. Whatever talents we have, aren’t just for us and us alone, they’re supposed to find their place and fulfill their purpose in conjunction with others. For others.

So I have to stop living with this sick feeling of holding back. And I don’t know… but maybe you do to.  We all want to whatever we do to be the best thing ever and the easiest way to stop ourselves from moving forward is to imagine all the worst case scenarios but we’ve gotta push past all that. Done is better than perfect. Something is better than nothing. And honestly, this moment – knowing that I’m not really doing all I can to push forward the people and the causes that I care about — this is the worst case scenario. Well… the second to the worst. The very worst case scenario would be to live quietly with this sick feeling for the rest of my life. But ain’t nobody got time for that. Not me. Not you. And not the people waiting on us to move forward.

So let’s not let this month end and this quarter close without offering some sincere apologies by making some moves.  And cutting back on the fears and excuses that have been keeping us sick. And, hopefully, we’ll all feel better in the next quarter.