BACK TO THE HEART OF WORSHIP (It's Not About You)

H A P P Y   B I R T H D A Y  T O  M E ! 

It's the first time in a long time, my heart finally understands what True Joy and Peace looks and feels like. It took me 14 years to to get here - from my youth's daydreams, to being a voyager of life's seasons and phases in 2017, and literally surviving the darkest last 2 years of my life ( see my posts about depression, and relapses)  

I'm here, I'm where I am now, all because of His grace, and Love. 

I painfully tried to "get myself back", "be back", "bounce back", when all I had to was very simple : GO BACK TO THE HEART OF WORSHIP. 

How do you worship the Lord? 

Do you have a go-to place or space for it? Do you kneel, or lift your hands? Do you cry and whisper all your hurts? Throughout the pandemic restrictions - do you watch/listen to priests leading the mass or pastors preaching? or play worship music and podcasts? Well, this is what "worship" used to look like for me through the years. 

* 'attending church on Sundays' | 

my entire childhood was like this, and it always felt as if I had to go to church just to meet the Lord. We prayed daily at home, but it's not the same as going to church because we were taught that it's the highest form of worship. To me, God was so high up there, unreachable and on the throne, and can only be felt for an hour. Back then, I had this belief that worship had to be done only in the church or in identified sacred places alone. 

* '30mins of singing and lifting your hands' before the sermon / talk | 

Since I first got a glimpse of attending a Christian church in 2006, I've always associated worship with music (Hillsong!!!). It's actually how I first came to know the Lord intimately as my first love. It felt surreal that worship went beyond a place, and that music was a way to be close to the Lord. Worship became a song offering in my teenage years, that's why my guitar and I were a tandem. Whenever I wanted to feel the Lord's presence, I just set up my Hillsong CDs or play a church song and it automatically puts me in the worship zone - quiet, 'feeling it', crying, and praising. It was beautiful, heart felt, and it made me feel good. Music became my connection to the Lord, that's why somehow I knew that if I've gone astray or when I'm too overwhelmed with my emotions, I won't feel like listening to any worship song (moreso, avoid it).  Back then, I thought that worship had to be felt through songs. 

* 'talking to God in whatever form' | 

In 2013, I started reading my book 'God's Pocketful of Promises for Women' to survive heartbreaking ordeals. It had letters from God for every emotion / aspiration, and bible verses associated with it. That same year I also did the 40 day journey of the book "Purpose Driven Life" and it's how I understood that worship isn't confined to a place, or even music. That's when I started to let go of dear diaries and  write to Him instead. Sometimes I wrote prayers, but most days I simply wrote about my heart's cries and desires, my mind's questions and reflections. Whenever I don't write, it always meant being distant again from the Lord. When I didn't feel like writing, I wasn't "worshipping Him'. Back then, I knew that worship meant talking to God whenever, wherever, and I chose writing as a form of doing so.

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Worship started from a place, to creating a space of intimacy with the Lord. I thought I was doing okay as long as I keep finding ways to mix and match from the three : Sunday church, keep the flow past Sundays through worship music, and talking to the Lord through writing. I thought that was it, until 2017 broke me in so many ways that I found it hard to always keep worship songs on repeat, or even keep writing to the Lord. I got physically tired of crying every time I made an attempt to worship. Sadly, all the why's of my cries made me focus on my wounds, instead of focusing on the One who heals. And the more I didn't "worship" the way I knew how to, the more I felt so distant from the Lord. I told myself that it's all part of being human, but the truth is : I was also so desperate to bring back the wonder - of being human. 

What brought me back to the heart of worship? 

I did everything earthly and sensible that I could : 
* I did my best to take care of my newborn while also giving my best in my new role at work, 
* I tried a lot of self care rituals, attended personality development sessions, 
* I tried sharing the talents He has blessed me with through social media and workshops I conducted,
* I tried blogging more, writing more, singing more, 
* I listened to Christian podcasts, made worship playlists, replayed sermons and preachings, 
* I even sought medical help and followed a treatment plan for my mental illness diagnosis in 2019! 

But the vicious cycle really wore me out, and it didn't change the situation I was in. I still had painful outbursts, I still blamed the past, I still couldn't accept my present. I was still in a very dark place, with  short fused moments of light. Relapses grew in intensity and frequency, and it made me exhaustingly desperate to be healed by the Lord completely. The most sensible thing at that time was to be back on medication to ease physical symptoms, but the pandemic made it hard for me to reach my psychiatrist or even find a new one (who didn't know my history). After months of searching and waiting for medical relief, I decided to seek refuge from a church I've been wanting to serve since 2011. Thankfully they've been on the digital train ahead of most churches that it was very easy to join a discipleship group via their web app. I found this group - Women of Grace, who met over coffee pre-pandemic (of course that had to be the Lord's eye catcher! haha) then I got a call from the d-group leader, and the rest is His/story! 

Since October 7, 2020 : my first dGroup wednesday, I learned how to read my bible and meditate on His Word. I was taught the sense of accountability in making sure I prioritize my time with the Lord daily. What I thought was a one way communication with the Lord, became two way! If prayer was talking to God, reading and meditating on His Word revealed HIS answers, thoughts, warnings, instruction, promises, and LOVE. This made me understand the true meaning of worship, and HOW it can be done. Knowing the Lord more through His Word aligns our hearts and minds to His, therefore affecting the way we view the world, the way we are, and the way we live. And our way of living is our way of worship, to glorify Him. And because He is the true meaning of worship : It's all about HIM. 

* Worship isn't confined to a place we think He resides in. Worship is a form of intimacy with God 
* Worship is not fueled by our feelings. Worship is fueled by what we know about Him - who He is, what He has done, and what He will do. And this deepens our intimacy with Him 
* Worship goes beyond music, writing, or how we choose to talk to Him. Worship is about our walk with Him... that is revealed through our way of life, so that we can make Him known to the people around us. 

And that, my dear brothers and sisters in Christ, is how I came back to the heart of worship. 

He is the heart of worship, He is the focal point of worship
He is the way to worship, He is the true meaning of worship, He is the goal of living a life of worship.

 Always in all ways indeed, "He has made everything beautiful in its time Ecc 3:11" Praise the Lord! 
I will do my best to sing and write of His love, for the rest of my life. 

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