Finding Courage and Wisdom on the Path to Wholeness
Dear TSJ Peeps,
Today, Solomon and I dedicate this blog to our late “Mr. Tom.”
Three years ago this week, and just a few days before “Mr. Tom” went to sing freely with all the saints and angels in heaven, he gently pulled my face down by his and said, “Don’t stop spreading your message.”
I asked, “What message?” He answered, “Your message is of Love. That is who you are, Margie. You can’t not do it. Use Solomon to help you.”
So Inspired by him, and Brené Brown’s book Daring Greatly, as well as by John and many of you, it is time for me to accept the challenge. Writing personal things to people I may not know calls for “daring greatly.”
So the story I dare to share today is;
Don’t Stop Singing!
This week, I was treated to a heart-warming lunch conversation with my lovely stepdaughter. Such opportunities of meeting are rare these days and I treasure every moment we can squeeze out together!
You see ~ like so many TSJ “peeps” ~ she juggles family and career and has little time to spare. She would object to my accolades, but she is a competent, humble and upwardly-mobile, busy manager in a large company. She is also a devoted wife and mother. She and her equally competent husband extend kindness and compassion to the world and share a devotion and commitment to their three children, family, friends and community.
We talked about several pertinent human dilemmas. Mostly we shared her excitement and reservations about her recent decision to embark on a rigorous two-three-year PhD program (with her company’s blessing) and the inner turmoil it created.
Understandably, she was experiencing the pangs of uncertainty that come with such a decision. She is already incredibly busy, flying here and there on business, being a homemaker, ferrying kids to music lessons and lacrosse and volleyball etc, and looking after her husband.. So how (she wondered), “Can I survive the added stress of a graduate program that would demand my attention every spare moment?” To her credit, she talked with her executive coach as she made this decision to apply. Even applying itself has brought a sense of excitement and apprehension that goes with “daring greatly” (something she does well).
It was a great encouragement that we could share this together. I moved into “Mom mode.” I reflected with her how I had been in a similar situation years ago when I took on a master’s program in addition to a full-time counseling job shortly after her dad, (TSJ’s Mr. Tom), and I were newly married and blending our four children (9-11 yrs) and a puppy! I told her I was scared that by doing so I would ruin their lives.
It did not ruin their lives.
She had wrestled with great questions …. Doesn’t my family deserve attention as first priority? Wouldn’t it be better to shelve the graduate study until the kids were in high school? What are going to be the trade offs since something will have to “give?”
Fortunately, she decided to seize what could very well be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to pursue her dream of excelling in her field and beyond.
But something struck me as we were talking. I wanted to protect her from self neglect!
You see, Amy has gifts, abilities beyond what I’ve already described. Important among these is the gift of music. Piano, singing — she’s good!
And I could see that the pressure to put these expressions to the side would be intense. And I urged her most strongly — don’t! And this is why…
Even decades later, I painfully remember that when I was a girl my siblings took up instrumental or vocal music, with encouragement from our parents. I desperately wanted to also. I yearned to get my hands on a musical instrument or sing in church junior choir but my mom would not allow me to do so. She struggled with some emotional turmoil of her own at the time of my birth and that forged a different feeling toward me from the beginning. We all have a story that shapes who we are, whether from our own parents, or teachers or other sorts of suffering. And I carried on the belief that I was truly less than others in general, but specifically in singing from my heart with full voice.
So essentially, I stopped singing for years, although after college I did sing some in a small church choir. But I felt woefully inadequate and I stopped trying to improve. Years later, standing alongside my beloved Tom in church, I loved listening to his gentle, musical singing. I so wished I could be a strong singer because he was not a confident singer, and, whenever I tried to sing, it threw him off key. So I chose to mouth the songs in church more than I sang. Candidly, I preferred hearing him.
Now Tom sings in heaven and I’m married to John, who sings well, and encourages me to sing along with him. And now, my weakened voice muscles are embarrassingly uncooperative.
Oh how I feel the mistake I made.
So, I leaned over and said, “Amy, I tell you this because I don’t want you to be 72 and say to your daughter… I wish I hadn’t stopped singing. I am very proud you are “daring greatly” but I don’t want you to neglect the quiet longings of your own heart and soul..
So to all TSJ peeps I might add ~ dare to care for your self! Sing your songs. I believe your children will value you the more for being who God has created you to be because it will help you be the best you.
Thank you,Tom, that your voice echos from the heavens into our hearts three years later at Christmas. You sang out even if you knew you missed some notes!
Margie and Solomon