Monday, April 04, 2011

Jennie, get a life

I'm sure ya'll have noticed I haven't been posting much lately. Here I explain one little part of why I've been absent. Don't know if I want to share this; it makes me feel vulnerable and ridiculous. I haven't shared it yet with the ladies' prayer group. Maybe I should, but I would feel like I needed a bag over my head; well, here goes. The Lord has been gently leading me, the timid and self-conscious one, toward being able to sing in our church services. He's been giving me the desire to show love to the body of Christ by singing. Singing brings healing, and praise brings the presence of God. I've always loved to sing, and I sang in youth chorus and in church choir when I was younger. I've always loved to listen to beautiful voices. When I was a child, I listened to Julie Andrews on my Mom's 'Sound of Music' soundtrack record, and as a young teen I listened to Luciano Pavaratti and Placido Domingo records. I love to listen to Andrea Bocelli, Josh Groban, Sarah Brightman, Celine Dion, and others, from time to time.

I don't have a voice like that, but I have a nice voice, and the Lord has been showing me that it is to be used for Him. Two things have kept me from it. One is fear, but love for Him and for his people was casting that out. The second thing is a danger for all artistic people. Sensuality. King David was an artist, who loved beauty and was sensitive to the beauty of God. He also got distracted by the beauty of a woman because he was not where he should have been.

Since I've gotten interested in music again after being busy with other things for a long time, I have been listening to music on youtube alot: Contemporary Christian, and some classical singing, and celtic singing, etc.. I can't remember how I started listening to (and watching, since youtube is visual) some of the music I used to like in my college days. The difference is, in college I didn't watch the music, I just listened. I never watched MTV or music videos when I was young. I have always liked a few of Journey's love songs, but never knew much about the group and never saw photos or videos of them.

Here's where the big distraction came in. Not sensing the danger at first, I kept watching Steve Perry sing on youtube. He has an absolutely beautiful voice, which snagged me from the first. So I listened to the big voice instead of the still, small one. Not good. The problem was that the man looks as good as he sounds, and being human, and loving beauty, I pretty much got bowled over (Take my word for it, and DON'T go check it out). Didn't think it was possible; and didn't listen to the Lord; and here I was, almost not caring about what is really important any more.

Spring fever plays a part in my mood. Every year when spring comes there's a few days where I feel like I'm going to fly in pieces; took me this long to realize it's hormones. It must have been spring when King David was walking on that roof when he should have been at war. I obviously forgot to 'put on the armor of God', and that Christ said to 'Abide in Me'. I said before that I almost didn't care what is really important, but I do care, by the Lord's grace and mercy, so these passages are my prayer, especially this: Restore to me the joy of Your salvation,
And uphold me by Your generous Spirit.
13 Then I will teach transgressors Your ways,
And sinners shall be converted to You.

14 Deliver me from the guilt of bloodshed, O God,
The God of my salvation,
And my tongue shall sing aloud of Your righteousness.
15 O Lord, open my lips,
And my mouth shall show forth Your praise.

1 John 1:1 My little children, these things I write to you, so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. 2 And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world.

3 Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments. 4 He who says, “I know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. 5 But whoever keeps His word, truly the love of God is perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him. 6 He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked.

1 John 2:15 Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world. 17 And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.

Psalm 51

1 Have mercy upon me, O God,
According to Your lovingkindness;
According to the multitude of Your tender mercies,
Blot out my transgressions.
2 Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity,
And cleanse me from my sin.

3 For I acknowledge my transgressions,
And my sin is always before me.
4 Against You, You only, have I sinned,
And done this evil in Your sight—
That You may be found just when You speak,
And blameless when You judge.

5 Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity,
And in sin my mother conceived me.
6 Behold, You desire truth in the inward parts,
And in the hidden part You will make me to know wisdom.

7 Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean;
Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
8 Make me hear joy and gladness,
That the bones You have broken may rejoice.
9 Hide Your face from my sins,
And blot out all my iniquities.

10 Create in me a clean heart, O God,
And renew a steadfast spirit within me.
11 Do not cast me away from Your presence,
And do not take Your Holy Spirit from me.

12 Restore to me the joy of Your salvation,
And uphold me by Your generous Spirit.
13 Then I will teach transgressors Your ways,
And sinners shall be converted to You.

14 Deliver me from the guilt of bloodshed, O God,
The God of my salvation,
And my tongue shall sing aloud of Your righteousness.
15 O Lord, open my lips,
And my mouth shall show forth Your praise.
16 For You do not desire sacrifice, or else I would give it;
You do not delight in burnt offering.
17 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit,
A broken and a contrite heart—
These, O God, You will not despise.

18 Do good in Your good pleasure to Zion;
Build the walls of Jerusalem.
19 Then You shall be pleased with the sacrifices of righteousness,
With burnt offering and whole burnt offering;
Then they shall offer bulls on Your altar.

Lord, please lead me back in the way You want me to go, and help me to always care about what You care about (And You already know, I've deleted the Steve Perry videos from my favorites on youtube). BY THE TIME ANYONE READS THIS, I WILL HAVE SHARED THIS WITH MY HUSBAND, WHO, SINCE I WAS SITTING ON THE COUCH NEXT TO HIM MANY TIMES WHILE WATCHING YOUTUBE, PROBABLY WAS NOT UNSUSPECTING. (Yes, I am an idiot sometimes. Ya'll pray for me.) Also, Lord, please help me to be obedient by Your grace and do the things You have called me to do rather than shrinking back in fear or getting distracted by the idols of this world. Amen.
NOTE: You're probably thinking "Jennie, get a life!" Admit it, you are. Well, my husband took me on a 4 day cruise to the Bahamas last week, so I'm feeling a whole lot better now. :)
UPDATE: I received the courage to tell our worship leader that I've been praying about joining the worship team and/or singing solos, and he said I could join them for practice and that they'd be glad to have another female voice. I'm rather scared, but I feel better to have done what the Lord is directing. Maybe it will help keep me off of youtube ;)


Christine said...

Jennie - don't be so hard on yourself. You have greater insight into yourself than many people do, when it comes to these things, and caught yourself early on. And it wasn't even a "real" man - lots of people get caught in "innocent" friendships and lie to themselves until it's too late.

We have these things in common: I love Steve Perry's voice; I know the Sound of Music by heart (and was appalled when my parish priest, a good friend, said the movie was "a snorer"); I too started singing at church and love to sing. In my case, my love of singing far exceeds my ability. The first night I went to choir practice, I came out and thought to myself, "What is this feeling that I'm experiencing right now? Oh yeah, it's called happiness! I really believe that singing releases endorphins.

Enjoy it! Good for you. The first time I sang with just one or two others, I was beyond petrified, and a couple years later now, I'm pretty nonchalant!

Jennie said...

God bless you! You don't know relieved I am to read your encouragement. I was sitting on this one for about 2 weeks and adding to it before I had the courage to post it today.
Do you think we need to start an SPAA group? (Steve Perry Addicts Anonymous);)

Jennie said...

We do have alot in common! I also have 'The Sound of Music' memorized from singing it so much. And singing has always made me happy, and helped relieve stress too. I don't talk alot, so I get alot out by singing!

Jennie said...

You have greater insight into yourself than many people do, when it comes to these things, and caught yourself early on.

If I have greater insight, I also have greater responsibility. I caught myself, but I didn't want to stop, and had a big struggle, and didn't even want to ask the Lord for help. And I was too embarrassed to ask for prayer about it, as it seems pretty juvenile. I'm actually almost the oldest lady in my church, but seem to be the one that shares personal struggles the most. Others haven't opened up so much, though I'm one of the shyest. Maybe they don't have as many issues, or maybe they're not ready yet.

Christine said...

The other women will really benefit from your sharing, especially over time. If you hadn't had this struggle, you might not have the understanding and compassion for someone in the future who needs advice.

Jennie said...

Yes, you're right, Christine.
Also, sometimes it seems laughable, but then I think it isn't right to laugh about something that I've been convicted over. I feel like it will seem funny to others though. I really will need a bag to put over my head. We'll see.

Moonshadow said...

Quite a coincidence ... :

In a "Jesus in film" series last week, we watched Scorsese's Last Temptation of Christ. Up until then, the film selections have mostly been wooden things from the 20's and 40's. Jesus in those movies was certainly "other," quite divine and hardly human.

But, here in Willem Dafoe was an earnest, searching, faithful, loving guy who also had some chutzpah. I was totally bowled over, as you say, though not by his appearance. He is not good-looking in the least. But his voice has such a fine timbre, balanced in gravity and levity, depending on the scene. And he had such integrity! Really!

So I watched again some Last Temptation scenes at YouTube - there aren't many - and also another movie from the same period featuring Dafoe, Mississippi Burning - again, there aren't many clips available. And I was beginning to feel preoccupied: I couldn't get this man out of my mind for nothing.

I thought to suggest to my husband that he request some early Dafoe movies in the NetFlix queue, but I figured he'd get suspicious (and tease me) because I'd already told him how stunned I was with Dafoe's portrayal of Jesus!

I felt convicted yesterday at mass about this (not for the first time, either) because Jesus in the Gospel reading seemed to get frustrated: "Unless you people see signs and wonders, you will not believe.” I found myself thinking that Dafoe's Jesus would never say that.

I think these things fade eventually as we get too busy to keep them alive. "Idle hands ..."


Jennie said...

Hi Teresa, it's good to see you again. I don't think it's a coincidence, seeing the similarity of the situation and knowing how hard it was for me to share it. I'm glad I did. You are exactly right that it is 'idle hands' and that it should fade when we get back to work again. That goes right back to King David again, who was not at war with his men and got into trouble by wandering idly and looking at what he shouldn't, then getting obsessed with having what didn't belong to him. It's really exactly the same, and it's a big danger from the internet, even more than tv and movies, because of the ability to possibly communicate with others and get attached to them. It shows how easily our hearts are moved and captivated, and how much we need to beware and abide in Christ, and keep accountable to others. Its a good lesson for me, I know.

Moonshadow said...

I should have said that the Caribbean cruise sounded like a pleasant surprise for you.

The other thing that happens to me when I get engrossed in a celebrity is that I try to find out all I can about the person. Of course, that research invariably turns up some unsavory tidbits and I get turned off. "They aren't so different after all."

I have favorite characters from movies and literature who are "Christ-like:" Jean Valjean, Atticus Finch, Jeff Smith, George Bailey, even John Doe. But these are all consciously not Christ. So, again, the trouble I encountered (am encountering) is when I prefer Dafoe's portrayal of Christ to what I read of Jesus in the Bible.

And this preoccupation might start all over again for me tomorrow night because we'll be watching Zeffirelli's Jesus of Nazareth (the miniseries) with Robert Powell. Eh, I've already seen scenes from that movie so I don't expect the same effect!

Jennie said...

because Jesus in the Gospel reading seemed to get frustrated: "Unless you people see signs and wonders, you will not believe.” I found myself thinking that Dafoe's Jesus would never say that.

So, again, the trouble I encountered (am encountering) is when I prefer Dafoe's portrayal of Christ to what I read of Jesus in the Bible.

Is it because Dafoe's character would not get frustrated? I haven't seen his portrayal, so I don't know how he did it. But the fact that Jesus got frustrated, to me it shows His humanity, but also His loving parenthood. Even in the Old Testament God gets frustrated and angry at His people, but He loves them as a Father and a husband. If my husband didn't get frustrated or upset with me when I'm annoying, I'd figure he just didn't care anymore, not that he was so good he couldn't get mad. I don't know if that makes any sense. But Jesus frustration makes me love Him more, and know He cares about us even when we're idiots.

Moonshadow said...

I said "frustration" but I really mean "scorn" and "contempt" (without sinning) even though that sounds harsh.

Tonight we watched a couple of hours of Zeffirelli's Jesus of Nazareth, the six-hour TV miniseries from '77. Robert Powell appeared dead(pan) all the time, even before the crucifixion. Absolutely no animation. And I just wondered whether this was an aspect of the kenosis.

Maybe I'm just being facetious.

Jennie said...

I don't see scorn or contempt at all in Jesus, even when dealing with the Jewish rulers. I see anger there, but not contempt.
I remember watching 'Jesus of Nazareth' when I was a teenager. I think I liked it back then, but later looking back on it, I thought it was pretty bad; not like the Jesus I see in scripture at all. But that image of Jesus stuck in my head for a long time. Now it looks eerie to me.

Christine said...

I love Ian MacShane as Judas in Jesus of Nazareth. I haven't seen the show in years, but I have never forgotten his smoldering performance. I also love Atticus Finch and Jean Valjean (and the actors who played them). And what about the powerful Judas portrayal by Carl Anderson in Jesus Christ Superstar, especially singing, "Listen Jesus I don't like what I see"? That always gives me chills.

Remind me what kenosis means.

I don't think it's necessarily wrong to be moved by examples of masculine charisma or courage - but it's a fine line, I suppose.

Jennie said...

I had to go look up Ian MacShane. I remember him now. (I see he's now playing Blackbeard in the latest Pirates of the Caribbean installment, by the way; good fit). When I last watched him as Judas, I was too unsophisticated to appreciate 'bad guys' or notice their acting performances. It was too real to me, and so I pretty much despised him.
I had to go look up kenosis, again, just like I did last time Teresa used the word :) It has to do with how Jesus emptied himself of His Godhood to become incarnate.

Jennie said...

I also love Atticus Finch (love Gregory Peck in that movie), and Jean Valjean. I really enjoyed seeing Les Miserables at the Fox Theater in Atlanta when I was younger.

Moonshadow said...

We watched the Last Supper scene in which Jesus reveals his betrayer. The suspense is quite forced because we all know who, don't we?

After Jesus tells Judas to "do it quickly," Judas' face passes through a number of expressions, from confusion to recognition and acknowledgement to even happiness. So, yeah, I agree he's a good actor.

In my temptation to prefer these actors to the characters in the Gospels, I'm reminded of a favorite bit of advice from Salinger in his novella Zooey. I just have to guard my religious imagination, you know?

Jennie said...

Salinger is right that there is no one else like Jesus, in Scripture or outside of it. He's the only person ever recorded who doesn't show the characteristics of any one type of human temperament. He's not shy, outgoing, pushy, weak, wimpy, macho, melancholy, laid back, manipulative, talkative, hesitant, pompous, obnoxious, absent-minded, irritable, impatient, etc.. He's all that's good and wholesome, and nothing that falls short. He has all of the good qualities and none of the faults of humanity; of course then adding the supernatural patience, courage, wisdom, love, and perfection of God Himself. But then He's so much a personal being, with all the emotions we have, yet without sin.