As she took the stage and began the opening lines to “Make his Praise Glorious” – I was instantly transported to a cotton candy pink bedroom, with white curtains covered in pastel hearts, where I am sitting by my cassette player listening to the strains of this same song and dreaming of the day when I will BE Sandi Patty. Well, not her exactly, but someone just like her. My dreams began in that little room so many years ago…..I will be on stage, I will sing my songs, I will tell my story of my growing up in Africa and I.Will.Be.Amazing!
The next song in the medley begins….and the next….and scene after scene of my scattered hopes and shattered dreams flash before my tear filled eyes. I did know it would be like this – I came to hear a woman that I love sing songs that I enjoy….why do I feel this way? Why am I am heartbroken?
I am heartbroken because somewhere along the way I lost those dreams….and they are never coming back.
She was my hero. From as far back as I can remember Sandi Patty was the idol in my life. I knew every lyric to every song, knew the highest note she could hit, I had read books about her, knew her birthday, and her children’s birthdays, and one night my life was “made complete” when I got to meet her on the bus ramp behind Reunion Arena in Dallas, TX. ….I thought she was all I ever wanted to be and more.
So I started to follow in her footsteps…or so I thought…I tried to do everything right, I sang and performed at every opportunity, I trained with a choir, I graduated high school and I went to Bible college to study music, I practiced and sang round the clock – but in the end I was told – “You are not good enough, you will never be good enough as long as you continue to be you.” These words were not a reflection of my musical talent, in fact, to the contrary, my talent was fine – it was ‘who I was’ or rather ‘who they wanted me to be’ – that wasn’t.
My heart clenched in that moment. Here was someone who I thought knew so much telling me I would never be good enough. I needed to be someone different. In that moment, with those words – I put on a mask. I would become whoever it took to be who I needed to be to be on a stage one day. But with the putting on of the mask, I lost the song that sang in my heart.
This past Thursday night as I listened to the words of the opening medley – words that are so deeply ingrained in my heart from years of listening to them over and over and over again – I realized that for so long I worshiped the singer of the song and not the Savior to whom she was singing. I wanted a dream that God did not have for me. My heart began to weep as I listened to the words as if I was hearing them for the first time and for the first time I fell into the true rhythm of the song and began to sing the words of praise not in hopes of one day becoming someone who would sing them from stage – but out of the overflow of my heart to a Savior that I am not worthy to ever stand before. By the end of the medley, I stood weeping, bare-faced and mask-free knowing that I might never be good enough to be on that stage, but that God had a different stage for me. One that is full of people and places and a life far beyond what I could ever have imagined in that little pink bedroom so many years ago.
As I left that night, I was quiet. I felt a piece of my childhood slip back into the recesses of my heart, I closed the door once again to the little pink bedroom and the little girl who lives there. I left with a dream once shattered now mended by the Creator of dreams and formed into something new and holy. I still love Sandi, I always will. One day we’ll sit down to coffee together and I’ll tell her about the time I sang “Love in any Language” at an African wedding or how I completely changed the words to “There is a Savior” as a sang it because I had forgotten the word “Savior” (who does that!?! its the title of the song for crying out loud!). I’ll tell her how her life influenced mine and we’ll laugh about how I ran screaming from the stage that she touched my hand as she took a Kleenex from me when I was 13. And then I’ll tell her how this one stormy night in Dallas, TX – the sweet songs of long ago swelled back up in me and were used of God to unexpectedly heal a broken heart and give me back a song for my heart to sing.