I stared at the seat I’d occupied in the church choir for nineteen years. End seat, soprano section. No longer. This was the day. I had to do it. It was past time. I swallowed and grabbed my black folder, clutching it to my chest as I marched past the director and plopped next to the empty chair in the alto section. My friends gave me quizzical stares. I smiled weakly. “Looks like I’m an alto now. You’re stuck with me.”
I know this sounds overly dramatic. Perhaps in some ways it is. But you’ve got to understand, I majored in voice. I was a classic first soprano. The person my professors would call on to nail that high note. Someone who might not sing as well as Sandi Patty, but could at least hang with her in that oxygen-deprived thin air.
When gastroparesis began to erode my singing voice, and my work with the recording label I so loved, I was in denial. Nope. God wouldn’t allow that to happen. He’d never let my voice be taken away.
But my voice left me just the same.
God has since opened up other amazing avenues…a ministry speaking to women and those in prison, as well as writing my twelfth book when it had never even entered my mind that I’d be able to write one. I’m beyond fulfilled with these creative outlets but still, there was something about moving down to that alto section that seemed so hard. As if doing so would some how make the entire process more real. Final.
The death of a dream hurts, especially when you’re confronted with it over and over again.
The truth is, most days I have trouble squeaking out enough notes to even make a decent alto voice. And there is a certain kind of sadness in that realization that seems like a fresh death every time I open my mouth to sing. Or, at least, it did until I learned to focus on the thankfulness perspective instead of what I’d lost.
The Thankfulness Perspective is straight from 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18:
“Rejoice always and delight in your faith; be unceasing and persistent in prayer; in every situation [no matter what the circumstances] be thankful and continually give thanks to God; for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus.”
Did you catch that? Give thanks in every situation, no matter the circumstances. How is such a thing possible? It requires a shift in perspective.
Instead of lamenting the fact that my clothes might be too tight, it’s saying, “Thank You, Lord, that my clothes are too tight because it means I have more than enough to eat.”
When my son is joyfully chasing the dogs through the house, releasing blood-curdling screams that make me reach for Zoloft, I pray, “Thank You, Lord, for this fun-loving little boy…and his very healthy set of lungs.”
When I’m stuck behind a slow poke in traffic and I’m already fifteen minutes late, cars are a mile deep and creeping behind me, my kids are fighting in the back seat and the gas light suddenly comes on, it’s all I can do not to turn into a psychopathic maniac behind the wheel. But what if that infuriating slow driver in front of me is God’s way of keeping us from getting into an accident?
What if losing that job is actually a path to a new adventure God is trying to lead you into?
What if God can teach me more about Him through a time of suffering than He ever could through a time of ease?
What if? What if?
Be careful here though. We mustn’t be hasty to blame every obstacle on God. In a time of distress, people are often too quick to say, “It must be God’s will”. Uh, we have an enemy, and he loves to hurt God’s kids. But the good news is our Father can turn good out of any terrible circumstance the enemy, or ourselves, may cause.
I may no longer be able to sing like I used to, but for the time I can still sing some. So I’ll join the altos. When I can no longer sing alto, I’ll join the tenors. When I can no longer sing tenor, I’ll join the basses. When I can’t sing bass, I’ll stack hymnals. When my body is too weak to stack hymnals, I’ll be sure to sit on the front row and listen with rapt attention to those who are lifting their voice in praise.
And no matter what season of life I find myself in, I can always pray. Pray for those ministering. Pray for those who are weak. Pray for those leading. Pray for the hurting. Pray for those needing a shift in their thankfulness perspective.
Can you think of a time when something seemed bad that actually ended up being a blessing in disguise? What are some great examples of Thankfulness Perspectives?