The Line No One Else is Singing {#InfluenceConf Recap}

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When I was a pre-teen, my music minister dad opened the hymn book and sang out the second, third and fourth lines of notes to me. Ever since then, I’ve been listening for the harmony. Usually, I like to find the line no one else is singing to bring out the fullness of the chord…or maybe just to be original.

As I sat at the back of the Influence Conference meeting room last week during worship time, I kept humming out a harmony only to find it was already taken. When I tried to get in between that line and the melody, I heard voices from other parts of the room singing the same notes.

I couldn’t find a harmony all my own.

In the Friday night members’ session, Lara Casey did some group therapy with us. We all found ourselves standing with arms open and palms out telling each other our fears out loud. For a lot of us, it was the fear of not being noticed, not mattering, of being overlooked.

To remedy that, some of us strive to find the part nobody is singing yet, to raise our voices and concoct a sound to make ourselves stand out…or we just give up and stop singing altogether.

But what if mattering isn’t about me being noticed?

What if it’s about me finding a part and singing it out without second-guessing or trying to be original?

What if it’s about locking in with others who’ve found that part too, and harmonizing with those who’ve taken up other lines?

What if we blend all of our creativity together as one big worship gift to God, announcing like royal fanfare that His kingdom has come to this very spot on earth?

The fact that a lot of us are talking about our self-image in the online world means something.

Insecurity is the thorn in the side of our psyches.

Hayley said she feels like she repeats the same three thoughts over and over again, always reminding that “no striving will ever increase our favor with God.”

A lot of us are saying the same things before we’re fully aware of them coming from someone else.

There’s a term for the themes and trends and values that keep surfacing in our culture. It’s the spirit of our times: zeitgeist. And we’re tuned into it, even if we don’t know it.

Maybe you thought you were picking a unique name for your baby and then it showed up on the Social Security list of the top 50 names.

Maybe you’ve been doodling on your notebooks since high school but when you get the fresh idea to start a hand-lettering shop on Etsy, you find the market place is buzzing with others who’ve already had the same notion.

Maybe your life message is already being shouted through the bullhorns by a communicator (or several) “bigger and better” than you.

That’s all zeitgeist.

I ran into singer/songwriter Jennie DeVoe a while back on the way to another concert. As we chatted, she talked about the song-writing process and how an ultra-original idea will come to her, and then, if she doesn’t write it, she ends up slapping her knee when another artist a few months down the road sings out the same heart message, sometimes with a lyric hauntingly similar to the one that went humming through her own head. (And I’m not talking straight up stealing, i.e., copyright infringement here. That’s a whole different story.) If she doesn’t seize the moment and write what she senses, she doesn’t get to take part in the cultural display of that truth or feeling.

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For the believer, we have a deeper muse than the spirit of our times. We have the Spirit of all time singing over us with joy, quieting us with His love.

We don’t have to compete with one another when we’re listening for the part He wants us to sing in this measure.

You can err on the other side, too. You may start out on the particular part you hear in the music, but then when nobody else is singing it, you get self-conscious.

You hear the multitude of parts and instead of finding the one that resonates with you and sticking with it, you hear somebody else singing a different part and you want to try it out because it sounds so good in their voice.

Maybe then you join in on what they’re singing, but it’s not in your range.

Whitney English said, “We are so busy chasing the Jones’ dreams, we don’t have time to see the dreams God has for us.”

Right now, my part is quiet. No solo here. I’m writing assignments without my name on them.

At places like Influence, in a room with so many go-getter women, I sometimes feel bashful about my lack of notoriety, seeing as my blog isn’t a household name and I don’t have a big product with a byline on its way to its own bookshelf at this point in my life. Not that I wouldn’t welcome that.

Yet, I’m privileged, ecstatic even, about what’s in front of me. I know God very specifically gave me these assignments, maybe to prepare me for something else or maybe for the joy of this work itself. I’m communing with Him in the writing process. And I’m often brought to tears by the history-making moments I’m recording.

If I ever do write “my own” book, I hope I’ll remember the real reward is sitting with the Spirit as I do my work.

Really, the dream God has for us is to build and enjoy His kingdom. Jessi Connolly said when we’re busy building our kingdoms, we’re not building His.

When we’re not part of building His kingdom, we miss out on giving Him glory and getting the community that comes along with it. Instead, we get the loneliness and isolation of building a little kingdom for ourselves.

When I cry about something going wrong in my life or business, “am I crying about my kingdom falling?” Jessi challenged.

In the tensions after Saul’s kingship had crumbled in Israel, there was a group of people who were tuned in to the spirit of the times and to God’s movement: “from Issachar, men who understood the times and knew what Israel should do….”

They knew David was the leader God had anointed for this time and they gathered in Hebron to make it official. Dan Hayden says that the Hebrew word used for understanding in I Chronicles 12:32 is binah, and that “it comes from a root verb that means to separate something mentally and distinguish its parts.”

Maybe somebody up front is singing out my part already, but what about the sound in my corner of the room?

My harmony line with your melody and another’s descant bring out the fullness of the song for this time and place, enhancing words and stirring up affection.

Each voice in the mix gives an amen to the Spirit.

{Linking up with other Influence recaps here.}

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5 thoughts on “The Line No One Else is Singing {#InfluenceConf Recap}

    • Glad you stopped by. :) It was a joy to get to know you and add another Ann to my circle. Like I said, I haven’t met an Ann(e) I didn’t like. :) Also, I’ve already told your “upside down root system” story to a couple of writer friends who know of the poet you mentioned. Love it.

  1. This resonated with me today. When do I need to be OK with living a little differently or when do I need to lock arms with a like-minded group. There is always a tension? Great post.

    • Thanks for reading here and talking/listening at your place. That’s the latest I’ve ever stayed at book club! You were a good hostess. Actually, in this post, I was thinking back to an article you mentioned once about people thinking they’ve picked a unique name for their babies only to find they’re following social trends on accident. If you still remember the article, I’d love to read it.

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