Late one evening after finishing grocery shopping a line for a new song popped into my head. But as I pulled into my driveway I thought a typical dismissive thought. Oh forget that.It’s a cliché!
As a songwriter I struggled a lot, wanting to make sure every song I wrote was actually great. “No!” often came quickly to my mind as I dismissed many ideas as, “not good enough.”
THE REAL PROBLEM
What was behind my struggle? Was I comparing myself to others? Yes. Was I worried the song didn’t fit all the correct songwriting, “rules?” Yes.
But mostly, I think I was trying to find some status, some legitimacy by becoming a Great Songwriter. See, if I was a Great Songwriter, THEN I would be Somebody to the culture and to the world around me.
So I put all my attention on what everyone else was saying about how things were supposed to be done. Then when an internal NO followed a new inspiration, I’d agree with the NO without thinking and move on to the next inspiration doomed to die an untimely death.
Fortunately, on that evening in my driveway, something in me shifted. For the first time in long time I didn’t let NO stop me. I followed the inspiration instead, to see where it would lead. I allowed my mind to twist and change the words. What if I turned the cliché around to have a surprise ending? I kept writing in my head as I carried the grocery bags from my car and into the kitchen. Three weeks later I had a lyric I felt really good about.
After performing that same song in a coffee shop, a man stopped me and thanked me for the song. When I smiled, offering a quick, “Thanks!” he corrected me.
“No,” he said. “I really mean it.”
I paused as his eyes met mine.
“Thank you,” he said.
I took a breath and then I understood. This wasn’t about flattery. It was a special moment for him and now for me. He was so intent that I get it, he didn’t let me miss the significance of the moment. Yes, he was giving me honor and gratitude, but it was more than that. He let me know I had touched his soul.
My heart leaped with deep, deep gladness for this gift from him.
Back there in my driveway I almost dismissed that original song idea as, “Not important. Boring. Cliché.” But now I think it was more than just me in that driveway. God was there too, in the same way that man in the coffee shop was there for me. As I was hearing NO, His eyes saw me and kept me in the inspiration and magic of the moment anyway.
Wow! God really gives good gifts! His gift to me that night kept unfolding and unfolding. First there’s what happened inside of me. As I wrote the song something really wonderful began to happen. “NO” started losing its power. Trust took over! I learned to trust myself and in my own sense of satisfaction. And joy started replacing worry and doubt in my creative process.
And then there’s what happened on the outside of me. More good stuff! Like the song itself. A brand new song, never before in existence, came into this world. And then that song met that man in a moment personal and meaningful for him. And he gave gratitude and honor to ME! Fresh awe washes over me as I remember all of this.
This gift was just a few minutes on the driveway. But it was a place created by God for me. And in that place God wrestled inspiration out of the hands of “NO” and breathed life back into idea before handing it back to me.
In this place the whole legitimacy and status thing started to break wide open. Somewhere along the way, rather than being interested in who the culture said I should be, I became way more interested in discovering who God created me to be.
Life and art have been more exciting ever since!
…Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out…
Shining in 2013,
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Carla Porter writes, sings, designs architectural interiors and loves God, all in Los Angeles, California.
© 2013, Carla Porter and Whisper of Grace, all rights reserved.