When I was 13, I joined the Jr. High Chorus at my local public school. It was the mid-‘70’s and songs about teaching the world to sing in perfect harmony flourished. The odd thing is, though our choir sang songs about harmony, there was no harmony in our relationships in that music classroom. Sadly, being bullied in school didn’t stop at the music room door. I would have loved home-economics classes which consisted of cooking classes and sewing if it hadn’t been for the bullying. For me, my school was a place of unrest and fear.
Each day, after sewing class, there was a girl waiting outside of class for me. Her name was Lisa and she was the school bully and when I say bully I mean BULLY. She was known to beat up boys. One didn’t want to make eye contact with Lisa. Well, each day, she was waiting for me because the word was out that someone had contracted her to practice her talents on me. I didn’t know her. I had no idea what I could have done to offend anyone, having spent my school days trying pretty hard to stay under the radar since grade school. When Lisa couldn’t corner me in the halls, she waited for me after school. I made some inquiries among friends and learned the girl I sang next to in chorus had it out for me. What? All I did was sing next to her. I didn’t know her, didn’t have any disagreements with her, didn’t even sing off key in her ear.
Mustering up what little courage I had, I asked this girl in the risers what had I done to offend her? Her answer was….nothing. I had done nothing. She just thought it might be fun to have Lisa go after me. She wanted to see me beaten and bruised just for the fun of it. There really was no resolution after this. Eventually, Lisa beat up one too many kids and spent some days and nights in Juvenile Detention. I think about her now and I can’t imagine the kind of hell she and the riser girl must have lived in. I was lucky enough to come out unscathed on the outside but not on the inside.
An End To My Singing
My experience with Lisa and the girl from chorus brought an end to my singing. I sang in the church choir but never in school. I never pursued music as I should have. I believed all sorts of negative thoughts about myself; the result was I constantly told myself I wasn’t capable of doing anything of significance, even something I loved. The joy I had when I sang was sapped. But you know what? It was not their fault. It was mine. I focused on people who had hurt me, instead of focusing on God, who gave me the gift. This was my choice, not theirs. I let them win….but not forever.
Over the years, I secretly held on to my love of singing and hoped one day I would be able to sing with joy. Music is so healing; I would often sing by myself when I was out riding or driving my horse. I remember a time in Tulsa while visiting my in-laws that a spark was lit. I was in a bar, of all places, and my sister-in-law’s convinced me to get up and sing a Bonnie Raitt song along with the bar’s hired musician. One by one, they all stopped singing until I was the only one left. I felt humiliated but the professional singer told me I was good, and I should go home and practice everything I could acapella. She spoke prophetically because in a couple of years I would be drawn to Gregorian Chant where God healed me as I sang. God speaks to us where ever we are, even in a bar.
No Longer a Victim
God, for His part, never took the gift away but waited to let it blossom until I decided to stop being a victim. Was it okay to be upset that people had bullied me as a kid and an adult or hurt others by becoming a bully myself? Recognizing the hurt and where it comes from is okay for only one reason- to let something go. You need to know what it is you’re letting go of.
It’s not up to me to demand justice for any of my hurts, but it is my duty to let it go and to forgive and to pray for any and all who have hurt me. Until I could do this, I wasn’t going to be able to use any of the gifts God had given me. After all, it is for His glory. He expects me to forgive. I pray He will forgive me AS I HAVE FORGIVEN OTHERS. In order for healing to be complete, I must forgive others as completely as I expect my sins to be forgiven. In the process, I can let go of the hurt. Then, I can pray for the hurts of others because like I said, I can’t imagine their hell.
I Will Sing
The gift of music was given back to me at the ripe age of about 40. The Lord gave it to me and I have given it back to Him. There is so much joy in this. Music should always come from the heart. It’s not about the notes on the page as much as what God has written on each of our hearts. From the core springs forth the most beautiful music. But it is so hard for humans to sing, to be in harmony with each other when we hold onto hurt.
We all need to let go and stop listening to the voices of the bullies in our lives. Pray for those who persecute you. If we choose not to remain the victim and stop feeding the hurt as if we are owed something, we will strike a chord which resonates with all the wounded souls in the world. We all hurt, we have all hurt others but it’s time to stop and sing a new song. Not the chant of society but the chant which springs forth from the core of the soul, and holds others up to God for healing. Our own souls will be healed in the process and then, yes, we will sing a new song with a new harmony. I am so ready for a new chord to be struck, one set apart from the world which is counter-cultural to the chord God has placed in the soul waiting for its measured time to be played by His divine hand. What are we going to do? Are we going to be, or not to be, a victim of our own broken instruments any longer?