My Grand Disappointment with God
It’s been a long time since I’ve spoken to the you as an artist. I snuck off the map a little over two years ago on purpose, and stayed off the map this long not-so-much-on-purpose. You can read more about that on my previous blog here. It’s been a really long two years, and I know so many of you have been sitting on the edge of your seats waiting for me. (CAN I TELL YOU THAT I LOVE YOU FOR THAT?) I’ve written snippets on social media about my process of coming back to the microphone. I hope to take more time to unpack what I have learned over these years.
The first thing I’ll share in regards to my growth is my process of facing my grand disappointment with God. In fall 2014, I left Lynchburg in pieces, and came to my hometown in Ohio to put myself together. Only weeks into my time there, I was crushed and rejected by those who I expected to rescue me. I thought it would be three months of hugs from family and long talks by the lake. But it turned out to be almost a year of couch surfing, taking favors, and living only off people’s generosity. I lost my car, was fired from my job after 6 years, and had to leave the house where I was staying. All of that happened while I was planning and self-funding my wedding to a man I had already promised to love forever, but had only known for a few months. (That last part is maybe my favorite part of my entire life story, and I'll certainly have to share that with you eventually because it was absolutely wild.)
During that time, my guitar was in the case, and my keyboard was leaning up against the wall in the corner. I tell you no lie, months and months went by when I didn’t sing once. Not in the car, not in the shower, not for fun, barely even at church. And when I finally felt ready to come back to the piano again and sing, I stuttered. My voice was weak and wiry.
Songwriting has always been the comfort that would bring gravity to all the debris in my life. But after my year without it, it was like I didn’t remember how to do it anymore. I would sneak into the music room when I was home alone and give up after only a few bad notes, feeling empty. There was one time I went in there at twilight, dust hanging in the air. I sang a line or two, and they didn’t come out right. I hurled a xylophone at the wall and screamed, and I fell into a heap on the floor and sobbed, the xylophone still ringing.
It felt almost like an out of body experience, these past two years, feeling like my true self was far away and I missed her. I wanted her to come back. But the old Jane was never coming back. The truth is that life never lets us re-become who we used to be. We can only become someone new. We often have to start entirely from scratch--without even a whisper of what we used to be.
I spent a long chunk of time existing in the haze, holding onto this justified anger. I spent long months wishing for another dream. Wishing that my desire to create music would stop following me. The heartbreak was too great—I wanted an easier dream. I am not the only one who has felt this grand disappointment. So many in my generation feel ashamed and empty because we are not the ones we thought we would be by now. We grew up with big dreams and big hopes for our lives. It doesn’t take long for the cold world to settle us into a safe, complacent, boring, disappointed life.
One day alone at home, I remember hearing the Lord tell me that I needed to feel it. He said I needed to listen to my discontent, and that it would tell me something. So I listened. I stopped fighting it, and let the feelings come from inside my bones, seeping out to my skin. Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. I have heard it said that even our tears can be our intercession. I cried and I cried and I cried.
It’s amazing how understanding and kind God is. It’s okay to tell him that we're disappointed. Who are we kidding? He already knows. A friend once told me that God is strong enough to be our punching bag. He is big enough to absorb all our pain and anger. Sometimes we need to forgive God for the way he has disappointed us. God is perfect, but we have the capacity to hold onto offense when he doesn’t come through the way we expected.
God hasn't instantly restored my ability to write and sing, and that’s maybe because God doesn’t let us re-become who we used to be. The old thing isn’t meant to be restored. I really believe that I’m going to create a completely new thing. So no, I don’t miss my former self anymore. Instead I’m discovering and accepting and enjoying this current self. (Even though my current self doesn’t have a verbal resume or a google-searchable name anymore.)
So real, practical talk: I’m working on an artist-name, developing a sound, and learning to write music again as the current me. 2017 is my year of resurrection. So come onward with me. No more disappointment, only roaring joy.