A friend at church brought up a few weeks ago that hardly anyone ever sings with him during church. Now, we've only got 8 or 9 people at most on a Sunday, and one of those people has yet to speak her first words. But sometimes, I don't. Sometimes it's because I don't know the words. And sometimes it's because I know them far too well. I like to think that I take my poor experiences with big church and its young adult group in stride, but I never realize how much baggage I've got until those songs start playing. It's hard to describe the flood of emotions and memories of being parked in a room of people who have worked themselves into a feel-good state, and their faces are just glowing and I was on the outside of that. Even in the middle of people doing what worship is "supposed" to look like, after the first year of crushing loneliness, I couldn't tap into it anymore. I knew what I was, still a weirdo, still a tagalong. Except for the few close friends I made, I felt like I wasn't free to be myself, or even to show the pain I felt about it for fear of being dramatic.
Don't get me totally wrong; I'm a big believer in mystical worship, feeling the presence of God, and the overwhelming joy that goes along with that, and I wouldn't dare venture to say that any person in those big church worship times was just following through. But during those times, I could not speak the words of those songs and be honest. Despite living in a place called Trinity, I really don't believe in the Trinity, so singing about the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit feels like I'm lying.
But there are songs that break through that shell. Songs of honest sorrw and the hope of repair, songs where I can admit my faults and brokenness as a messed up human being are freeing to me.
On Doctor Who, the Doctor and Donna encounter the Ood, a race that's been enslaved and had their external brains, which allow them to communicate telepathically, connect with emotions, and SING, they have that cut off and replaced with a translator that gives them a pleasant and compliant voice until they plan their revolt. They can't even express their feelings about being slaves. In a holding cell, they find "unprocessed" Ood who still have their secondary brains. The Doctor can hear their painful, sorrowful song of slavery, but Donna can't until he opens her mind. When she hears it, she's so overwhelmed by the sadness that she asks him to take it away.
I identify with those kind of songs. I've never been a slave, but I love the honesty and hope of songs that throwback to the Israelites in Egypt or in the desert. At the end of that episode, the Ood give the Doctor and Donna their song to take with them, this time a song of freedom and the triumph of good. It has no words, but to me, it's a song that lifts my heart in hope like those church songs do for other people. It brings be tears of joy.
And sometimes it's not even that I've got baggage connected with a song, but I feel more like contemplating the words that day. I did spend a significant amount of time with some Quakers, you know.
I like singing. I wish I was better at it, but I'm mostly stuck with singing in the car or doing karaoke. I just hold my God-related song life close to my chest.