I’m of the firm opinion that for me, goosebumps are a gift from God. But that doesn’t mean they’re not inconvenient sometimes.
I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised about this. God’s job is by no means to give us what we want, when we want it. As C.S. Lewis wrote (and Carolyn Arends sang), He’s Not a Tame Lion (Great song, incidentally: check out the lyrics here: http://www.lyricstime.com/carolyn-arends-not-a-tame-lion-lyrics.html).
As I said in the original Goosebumps posting, these poky little critters most often arrive when I’m listening to music. But once in a while, (and increasingly often, I might add) they come when I’m making music – usually with the worship team I co-lead at Holy Trinity Anglican Church (www.holytrinitycalgary.org).
My bandmates are all gifted amateur musicians, and sometimes we’re in-sync enough to sound really great – to my ears, at least. When the sound balance is excellent (thanks, Greg, Chris and/or Brian), and we hit a strong, three-part harmony perfectly, I get goosebumps. A wave of ecstatic gratitude that I get to be part of this moment of heavenly harmony often follows. Tears come to my eyes, and I get choked up. It’s an incredible feeling.
The trouble is, this flawless three-part harmony doesn’t stay flawless when the guy who’s supposed to be singing the melody is too busy blubbering in his microphone to hit the right note. It’s profoundly embarrassing, and I find myself deeply ashamed of being unable to keep myself together.
How’s that for irony? I’m so overjoyed at the quality of the music I’m making that my joy undermines the quality.
The only solution I can come up with is to pull myself out of Worship Mode by focusing on something entirely un-churchy – that pile of laundry I have to tackle when I get home, or the TV show I watched the night before – and get back on track musically.
Even as I’m doing this, I know it’s a very imperfect solution; God doesn’t want me to sacrifice my own worship for the sake of others. But it’s all I can come up with at the time.
All that is true, but there’s, unfortunately, more to this story.
I said a moment ago that I get embarrassed and ashamed when this happens. That’s true, but it’s a different kind of embarrassment than when I simply make a singing, fingering or strumming mistake. That’s a mere ‘professional’ kind of whoopsie-daisying I can move past with a shrug, a chuckle or a quick apology to my bandmates.
What I’m talking about here is a much deeper kind of shame, because I’m showing people more of myself than I want to. The tangible evidence of indescribable emotion, which I’d much rather keep between me and God, is gushing out of me in front of dozens (or on Christmas Eve, hundreds) of friends, acquaintances and strangers. And I have no say in the matter – unless I turn off the Trinity Tap in my soul and switch back to the tactile and the mundane.
When I do that, I’m saying No to God: ‘No! I don’t want to be the guy who gets all shmoopy at church, even if that’s who You made me to be. I’d much rather be the emotionally detached dude for whom Your grace and love are abstract and foreign concepts.’
And yet, it’s a choice I’ve made far too often. I’m determined to do better. Starting now.
I hope you’ll bear with me when I fail – and maybe even moreso when I succeed.
Peace be with you.