It’s Sunday– my favorite day of the week.
I’m a singer and worship leader at my church.
Well, this Sunday….everything was different. The sky looked different. Church felt different. I was different.
Three days prior, my mother died at the tender age of forty-nine. One can only imagine how untimely and sudden her death was. Just days before her death, we talked. A month before, we spent quality time together at a women’s retreat. There weren’t any red flags alarming me that my mother and I were about to say our last goodbye. It just happened.
Now it’s Sunday, and I am motherless.
I am still a worship leader.
I am still “Sis. Daphine” and my church family still sees me as an encourager.
My obligation as a minister did not change. I had the same “understood” status and duty, but an entirely new set of circumstances.
Many questions ricocheted throughout my mind.
How do I encourage others when my faith is void? How do I uplift others when my strength is depleted?
I felt lost. I was broken! Waves of confusion and sadness overwhelmed my mind. I remember walking into church that morning smiling after profusely crying for hours. People were stopping me and hugging me, asking me if I was okay, and to be honest, I wondered within myself….am I okay?
Am I supposed to say “I’m okay”?
Is this the protocol after losing someone so close to you? Should I even be at church? Should I sing with the praise team? What am I supposed to feel like? What should I say when people inquire about how I’m doing?
I can’t lie, but I’m not ready to express what I’m feeling without a public display of emotion. I’m supposed to be the strong, enthusiastic worship leader everyone’s familiar with, but now I feel helpless.
What amazes me, when reflecting on that time, is that my spirit continued to restlessly stir within me, still wanting to praise God!
I sat in the audience that Sunday, and prayed while sitting there. I remember watching people look at me with disturbed expressions, as if they thought I was misplaced being in the audience.
I praised God in my seat and released my pain in my worship as the praise team and choir sang; nevertheless, my spirit yearned to do something that was familiar to me, and that was to worship God in song. However, this time nothing felt familiar, yet my spirit knew what it felt like to step on the stage and yield to the overwhelming rush of God’s spirit. It’s like each time I began to lead in worship, I lost complete awareness of my physical and emotional state, and allowed my spirit to navigate for me. I understood the benefits of yielding to the spirit of God. I remembered that in the presence of God was the fullness of joy!
I saw that the desire to yield to the reality of my circumstances did not outweigh my longing to give God his due prase. Despite my pain, I asked God to create an opportunity for me to sing if he so desired, and this was mind-boggling to me.
However, this time the opportunity to do so was not readily available because I was the audience, the one in need, and the audience was me, the minister.
The next thing I knew our pastor was up singing and he spoke over the microphone, “Who wants to come and help me sing this song?” My spirit leaped inside of me!
I thought, “Lord, is this you?”
While I was speaking to God in my spirit, people in the audience began to point to me and yell, “Daphine go up there! Go on!”
All of a sudden, I felt the power of God assuring me, himself, that this was his doing. My pastor then summoned me to join him on stage to sing a song he’d never sung with his group and has not since. When I walked on stage, he handed me a microphone and I began to adlib the words that my heart desired to say.
To others, I may have looked like I was singing, but I was rhythmically praying to God for strength and help in this time of devastation. I articulated my pain to him and intertwined it with praise and with assurance that he promised to get me through it.
When I did this, the church went into a frenzy! There was a huge wave of praise that went throughout the sanctuary. People were crying, smiling, holding their chests, and staring in disbelief. They saw and felt my liberation take place! They saw me choose to praise God despite my current reality. This was the most amazing Sunday to date! Through brokenness, I was able to render praise to God, and as a result, his power and faithfulness was manifested.
I handed the microphone back to my pastor and walked back to my seat. My reality was still the same, but my faith had increased. As I shuffled past the people in the pews to my original location, I felt my daughter tugging on my cardigan.
I leaned my ear towards her, and she whispered, “Mom, God just answered your prayer. You’ve always wanted to sing with Bishop.” I was taken aback with her statement’s accuracy because I never uttered those words to her, or anyone. It was merely just a thought in my heart. At that moment, it occured to me that God was faithful and mindful to not only bring me through my hardships but grant me the desires of my heart even in the midst of my suffering. I saw God’s fingerprints over this situation, and I can’t tell you how comforting this was to me.
After God amazed me that Sunday, I still had to deal with the fact that my mother’s funeral was coming up and that I would be officially saying goodbye– forever. I prayed and prayed, and cried and cried. I desperately asked God to give me supernatural strength. I had to mentally prepare myself for this because there would be hundreds of people there, and I didn’t want to miss an opportunity to be used by God because of my grief. I didn’t want seeing my dear mother laying in the casket to alter my focus and intent to exalt God. That night before her funeral, after praying, God gave me a handcrafted poem about my mother. The poem was so beautiful that I couldn’t resist reading it at her funeral. As I read it at her service, tears flowed from the eyes of those attending. My father requested that I promise to publish it because he thought it was so outstanding. Once again, after seeing how my pursuit to worship touched others so passionately, I realized that God helped me once more, and turned my pain into beautiful experience with him.
Reflecting back now, I must say that God has carried me and been there for me through this loss. I remember when the days and weeks began to pass after her funeral, and I realized that I would not see her again. I could feel the depression and the pain of this loss attempting to subdue me. When I felt like the devil was attempting to use my raging emotions and manipulate them to overtake me, I made sure to fall on my knees before God daily. I refused to be alone, so I stayed connected to people that had similar experiences after losing dear loved ones. I drew buckets of strength from the well of God’s word and the testimonies of others.
I learned through this ordeal that I must praise God regardless of my circumstances. In brokenness, healing is birthed. Out of pain, power is manifested. When we feel helpless, if we surrender to God, out of weakness we are made strong. If we are never sick in spirit, how can God ever be our healer? If we are never in pain, how can He be our pain reliever? When you feel the woes of life penetrating your well-being and peace of mind, let God be God, and do what he does best: saving us out of all of our troubles.
My experience of losing my mother taught me to sing through whatever ails me. I will forever sing through my struggles, knowing that I, myself, will see God manifested in my life, and this is what causes me to endure. To any worship leaders struggling with fulfilling your role because of unfortunate circumstances, hurt, and pain, remember that singers pray twice: once at home in our prayer time, and again when we sing!
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