Yesterday, at work, I was told to shut up.
Well, not exactly. Here’s what happened.
I was sitting at my desk at around 3:45pm; diligently doing some boring Excel spreadsheet stuff – but my motivation was waning vapidly. I knew I needed to power through the menial task; but I didn’t know how…until it dawned on me.
Kirk Franklin’s new album! I haven’t heard it yet!
Phew. That’ll help get me through this.
I open up a separate browser and type in “S-p-o-t-i-…” until most musicians’ favorite music-streaming site pops up. Click. Search for “K-i-r-k…” Click. Ensure that it’s not on Shuffle. Make sure my good headphones are in my ears. Click the neon green “Play”. Sip my coffee.
“Blessings and Faaavor…”
So far, I’m feelin’ the first song. The melody is similar to another track on the album that I had already heard. Bobbing my head, I’d say I’m catchin’ the album’s vibe already. It’s upbeat, feel-good, soulful, but very accessible – it’s exactly what I need to finish filling out these dang spreadsheets this late in the afternoon.
And thus, I let myself feel.
I surrender to the music and I begin to harmonize with his background singers.
After we get to the third or fourth song, I see a Slack message pop up on my monitor.
– Yo Gina!
– You’ve got a beautiful voice, but it’s a bit distracting singing at desk! People are messaging me because they’re embarrassed to say anything.
After glancing over these words, my first feeling was confusion. Did I even realize that I had been singing? No. All I knew was that I had already found myself a favorite song on the album; and that these spreadsheets were halfway done.
Second feeling? Well, more like feelings, honestly. They came in waves.
Ashamed. Annoyed. Angry…and hurt.
Why did that make me so upset, you ask?
Here are a few reasons:
Singing literally leaks out of me. Usually, I am unaware that I am even doing it. I did not intentionally desire to create difficulty for anyone else – I’m just working.
Though many people in my office don’t spend much time actually working, I do. And I sing while I work. I’ve done it in every job I’ve ever had – from waiting tables, to wrapping flower arrangements, to writing web content.
I sing while I work. It helps me. To ask me not to sing is to make my job a lot harder.
But here’s the real reason – my voice is an extension of who I am.
You reject my voice, you reject me. If I’m being told not to sing, I am being told to be someone else. I don’t want to be anyone else; I like being me.
Coincidentally, my D-group and I are reading through A.W. Tozer’s “The Pursuit of God”. The second chapter painfully elaborates about personal idols in our hearts and how often we root our love and our identity in things other than God.
And now, I believe God allowed this experience to unveil the perversion in my love for my own voice.
My voice is a gift. It’s not a guarantee.
What if, one day, I were to wake up and not be able to sing? What then?
Who would I be if I could not sing?
Would I still be me?
Would I still believe that God is good?
Is my understanding of the goodness of God tied to the thing He gave me, and not to Him?
I think I need to pray.