I guess the best way to start out is that I have always been a music lover. I was one of those kids who would listen to the radio endlessly. In middle school I would record my favorite songs playing on the radio with my tape recorder. Then I would play back the songs and try to decipher the lyrics. I enjoyed journaling song lyrics and would often sit and ponder the meaning behind the song. When I was in high school I was one of those kids who would have my music blaring loudly in my car with the windows open, singing as if no one could hear me. I have blown out a few car speakers in my time. I love music, I love loud music, and most of the time I love the hidden meaning of the words.
The first time I entered into an Evangelical church was at the age of 37. I remember walking into the building feeling really nervous. I had a rock in the pit of my stomach. I found refuge at a table just outside the worship auditorium. The beat of the music was like a rock concert. The music was loud. I couldn’t go in. It was too overwhelming. My husband and I sat outside of the room until the music was over, then we ventured in. Yup, I wouldn’t even go into the room until the music was over. It was just too much for me. You might find it peculiar that a music lover would avoid music. It wasn’t necessarily the music that bothered me, it was what was going on in the audience that made me uncomfortable. See, worship is an experience, an immersion, it creates an atmosphere and a presence that was intimidating to me. I had never experienced anything like it in church. Seeing people worship with their hands in the air, singing loudly was so big that it seemed to threaten to consume my very being. And that’s what worship is, it is the all consuming surrender of a believer in thanks and praise to our God and Father.
It took a couple of weeks for me to at least stand in the room during worship. The good news is that I actually ventured into the room. Over time I started to sing quietly. I cried a lot in those first few years. I was in a deep process of healing and conviction, so crying during worship was a release of some kind. About a year later, after receiving a lot of healing, I got some breakthrough in my understanding of worship. The tears lessened and I got the urge to raise a hand. I remember hearing someone talk about how we worship and praise God with our hands. I wanted to raise a hand but I was afraid. It sounds silly but I was afraid of what people would think of me if I raised my arms and hands. But after hearing my friend talking about how our hands are used to praise God, I stuck an arm up in the air. Victory!
I am here to say that it’s okay if you have a hard time worshiping the Lord freely. It is okay if that big room with loud music and raised hands is foreign to you. It’s okay if going into that room is too much for you. Take it easy on yourself. Maybe like me your first victory is actually standing in the midst of the atmosphere of worship. Understand, as you grow and mature in your faith, the urge worship will grow in you. It’s definitely okay to cry during worship, sometimes we purge negative stuff through our tears and come out healed. Sometimes a song can make you feel overwhelming gratitude for what God is doing in your life or reveal more of what Jesus did on the cross for us and the only expression you have are your tears. Just let it flow. It is safe to worship with your tears. You don’t have to be a super Christian (not that anyone is, it just looks that way sometimes). Take it slow and let God do the work inside of you to come into a place where you can worship freely. But for now, just let it grow and maybe raise a hand. See what happens…it might just change you.