There are two things I really strive to be in my life. I'm not necessarily good at either one all the time, and it seems I switch off being better at one than the other most of the time... depending on which is getting more of my focus. Sometimes I am terrible at both of them.
The first thing I strive to be is AUTHENTIC.
As a lead worshiper, the most important job for me is to lead God's people in authentic, genuine worship. That is no small feat by any means. Most lead worshipers can tell you that it is one of the most difficult tasks, not because we don't TRY to lead genuinely, but because there are so many things to distract us from doing so. My job is to bridge the gap between God and His people; to be used by the Holy Spirit in revealing Himself and His will for us, and to help lead in the church's response of praise and worship. If that is not done genuinely, with authentic motives and a pure longing for the heavenly, then I fail.
That scares me to death.
I want to be an honest person who is unafraid to show my flaws. I want to be someone that says, "Here I am, broken, sinful and stupid, but clinging firmly to God's unfailing love and open to being used by Him!" I think that vulnerability and authenticity is all people really want from each other.
Which leads me to my second goal. I desperately want to be A GOOD FRIEND.
I have always had a lot of friends. People who love me no matter what. I know that. Not everyone can say that. I'm luckier than even I know most of the time. When I moved to Kansas City from Texas I only knew one person here. Fortunately, she is my favorite person in the world, but I left so many wonderful friends behind. Lucky for me, the church I immediately started to attend brought with it endless opportunities to meet new and interesting people to make friends with. The first few months in KC I made so many new friends. If I didn't know someone and thought that I should, I would just introduce myself. I had plenty of corny jokes up my sleeve that were sure to at least break the ice or give people a reason to run far from me. Either way, I needed friends and I was determined to find ones that could handle me.
After about a year, I started to feel really lame. I wasn't spending much time with my new friends and I wasn't invited anywhere with them anymore. I started to question if they even liked me and the more I headed down that road, the more I started to question every friendship I had ever had. Maybe ALL my "friends" have never really liked me. Maybe people just put up with me.
I started to complain to Heather about it. I was so angry and jealous and upset. I complained about it a lot. Then, one day she said something that really hit me. She said, "Well, maybe YOU'RE not a good friend!"
At first I got defensive and dismissed it, until later when I was laying in bed. Heather was fast asleep beside me. That statement started to haunt me. I started crying.
Maybe I'm not a good friend.
Maybe I'm just a selfish person.
Maybe I'm expecting more from them than I am even willing to put into our friendship.
I read the book, AN OAK TREE LATE IN WINTER, last night and it inspired me.
In his book, my old friend Josh Rosenthal, recounts stories from his past that have lead him to the person he is today. Some of these stories are hilarious, while others are heartbreaking. His authentic writing falls in the same vein as authors like Donald Miller, sharing similar stories of heartache and healing.
Having known Rosenthal since high school, I was aware of most of the stories in the book, but they were told with such a deep honesty that literally made me laugh out loud at times and sob uncontrollably in others.
Josh is a singer-songwriter based in Salt Lake City and has been traveling the country playing his songs for years. Obviously, that's something I can relate to, but as he dives even more into his struggle to define himself as an artist, it resonates even more with who I am as one. From comparing himself to other artists who are more "successful" than him to arguing with people who don't fully grasp why he writes the songs he does, I'm right on board.
Although Rosenthal is a great songwriter, the book is not about music or songwriting. The book, to me, is about healing. It's about the wounds of divorce, teenage angst, fear, loss and loneliness, and the struggle for faith and community. With each story it's as if you are actually along for the ride in his healing process. As each story ends, a wound is healed and faith is slowly restored.
I read the book in a couple of hours because I couldn't put it down, and there were three main lessons in it that I can really appreciate:
(1) God makes beauty from pain,
(2) We need each other
and (3) to have good friends you have to be a good friend.
If you want to buy Josh's book, please visit: http://joshrosenthal.bigcartel.com/
And buy one of his albums while you're at it! You won't regret it!