I sprinted behind my son, attempting to wrap his dripping hair in a towel. Wrestling him out of the bath had worn me out. Wrestling him into pajamas was even more difficult. Now he had broken free and was running down the hall. He squealed in delight as I huffed, “Boy, when I get a hold of you…”
We rounded the corner and I stopped short, blinking in surprise.
My husband stood in the living room, a big grin on his face. His hands gripped a beautiful violin and bow. The irritation with my wayward son melted away.
My breath caught as I walked in slow steps towards him, an amazed smile tugging my lips. “I don’t understand.”
“Happy Anniversary, honey.”
I studied the way the beautiful instrument caught glimmers of light. I ran my fingers across the gleaming wood.
“I’ve always wanted to learn to play one. Ever since I was little.”
My husband beamed as he laid it in my hands, much like transferring a fragile newborn. “I know. I remembered. And with our nineteenth anniversary next week, what better time to finally give you one?” He studied me, trying to gauge my reaction. “Do you like it?
I couldn’t speak for a moment. Words choked in my throat. It was more than his thoughtfulness. My husband is not the mushy, gushy romantic sort. When I told him I was going to write this piece, he groaned. “Come on, Tara. Don’t make me sound sweet. I have a rep to maintain!” He is a sweet guy, despite his valiant attempts to hide it. But no, it was more than that.
It was even more than the violin itself, even though I’ve adored violin music since I was a child. My instruments are voice and piano, but if you want to captivate me, play some David Garrett and I’m transfixed. No, it was something beyond that.
When he asked me if I liked my gift, I cried, stood on my tiptoes and gave him a kiss, a huge smile wobbling through my tears. “Yes! Oh, yes!” He gave me far more than he knew.
Some of you know what I’m about to share. Some of you may not. Others may only suspect.
Several years ago I was diagnosed with gastroparesis, a disorder that keeps the stomach from pumping. It’s a vagus nerve problem which involves pain, nausea, esophagus spasms, reflux and a host of other issues. This nerve dysfunction has now progressed into my larynx. Have you ever had a back spasm? I now have those in my voice. Gastroparesis is a progressive disease. Unless God intervenes, it will get worse. In short, I am losing my ability to sing.
This might not be a big deal to some. For me, it’s been a hard blow. I mean, I wasn’t just a sing-in-the shower kind of girl. I was signed with a Christian record label. Ten years ago, I thought God had made it clear He wanted me to use my voice to help others find freedom in Him. When He began whispering hints of change, I was confused. The God-ordained plans that had seemed so certain to me suddenly shifted. And I was reminded of this important truth…the more you build your identity on something other than Christ, the greater the pain when that identity crumbles.
It’s been a time of grieving. Yet, it’s also been sweet to sit at His feet as He has tenderly prepared my heart, teaching me, loving me, guiding me onto a new path, a new adventure.
On the days when the grief felt like shards of glass embedded deep into my heart, God impressed this beautiful passage from His Word into my Spirit:
“I will compensate you for the years
That the swarming locust has eaten,
The creeping locust, the stripping locust, and the gnawing locust—
My great army which I sent among you.
You will have plenty to eat and be satisfied
And praise the name of the Lord your God
Who has dealt wondrously with you;
And My people shall never be put to shame.” Joel 2:25,26 AMP
When I’m tempted to mourn over the ‘should be’ or ‘could have beens’, I take a deep breath and whisper, “He will restore what the locusts have eaten.”
God has show me a great creative beauty in writing. He has allowed me to sign with the remarkably talented literary agent Janet Grant of Books & Such Literary Agency. I’m currently working on my ninth fiction story and my third nonfiction work, as well as numerous blog posts and magazine articles. And as I’ve studied the craft of writing, I’ve learned something quite interesting. Do you know what professionals call an author’s unique way of writing? Their “voice”.
I love to express my thoughts through words. I play the piano. Thankfully, speaking is far less taxing on my voice than singing, so my speaking calendar is quite full. And now I’ve been given a beautiful violin. Do you know why I teared up so quickly when my husband presented me with my exquisite gift? I knew something he didn’t know. Do you know which musical instrument most resembles the tonal quality of the human voice? The violin.
He will restore what the locusts have eaten…
Sometimes we cling with white knuckles to our own plans so tightly, we fail to realize God is trying to give us something far better. But in order to receive it, we must relinquish our hold on the old before we can receive the new.
I don’t want to settle for good and miss out on God’s best. Through this whole process, God has taught me an amazing truth. Sometimes, to give you a voice, God must first break your instrument.
God may heal my singing voice. He may not. Either way, I’m content. I’m happy. God never takes away without giving something better in return. I have a voice, and I’ll use it for Him as long as He gives me breath.
Because you can have a voice and still not have a voice.