I am addicted to worship. I am not speaking figuratively here. I. Am. Literally. Addicted. When I haven’t spent time in praise and worship I get this itch deep down inside of me that nothing else can scratch. I can’t think straight. I cannot properly function. But when I take just a minute to spend time in the presence of God, I am left euphoric. And when I am there, focused on God, I absolutely lose all control.
People joke about me all the time at church. I have been on the choir for over three years now. Its understood that if you stand next to me, you are in a danger zone. I cannot promise that you won’t catch an elbow to side, a back hand to the face or be completely distracted by my uncontrollable sobbing. I even claimed corner of the risers as my official spot because there is one less person next to me I have to worry about unintentionally assaulting when I get lost in the moment. I jump. I dance. I shout. I lift my hands.
I used to worry about how my praise and worship would be perceived. I thought people would look at me and be annoyed. I thought they would look at me and think “why is she so extra”. I also worried that maybe some people would think that I lacked heart and that my praise was not genuine. I didn’t want to irritate people.
I remember a few years back I was visiting another church for their praise and worship night. I had been there before and had always enjoyed myself, but the atmosphere of worship was certainly not what I was accustomed to. I sat on the very front row and unknowingly found myself next to the campus pastor. The band started playing one of my favorite songs and in true Kristen fashion, I lost it. I was jumping and rocking. All by myself on the front row for everyone in the church to see, I was two stepping for Jesus and I didn’t care. Until the service was over. I remember feeling the need to go find the poor man who was sitting next to me and apologize if I disrupted him or offer to pay any medical bills if he had taken a hit during my convulsions. As I was walking out of the door, he stopped me. He introduced himself as the campus pastor and said, “I had to tell you, worshipping next to you was refreshing.” All I could say was thank you. This man really wasn’t irritated by me? That was the first time in my life anyone had pointed out that the way I praise God was inspiring to them. I had always thought people would be annoyed with me. I had never considered the opposite.
One day I was having a conversation with a friend of mine and she asked me what prompted me to be so energetic in the way I praise God. I responded, “I never expected people who don’t know me well to understand. But I’ve suffered from sexual assault, drug addiction, eating disorders, and domestic violence. I’ve dealt with mental health issues, financial stress, grief. I am a high school dropout. A single mother. The odds are against me. Sometimes I catch myself buying into that. But when I spend time praising God, He quickly reminds me how loved I am and how he wants to use me regardless. I am grateful for that. He deserves my praise. I am an ‘extra’ person in everything I do. Why would anyone expect less in the way I worship?”
Even still, I would sometimes wonder if people looked at me and questioned me. If they did not know my story would they ever understand why I was jumping and shouting the way I do. Would it turn them off to God?
But this past year it seemed like my praise and worship was being brought to my attention more and more. I had been stopped by numerous people several times at church just to be told how the way I praised God had brought joy to their heart. I’d come back into work to have a co-worker tell me they caught me going crazy in my car during lunch and it made them smile. People were watching me. And people were being inspired. I would always humbly say thank you or crack some joke and change the conversation.
I was going through a phase some months back where I was considering trying a new church. Ultimately I realized where I am is where I belong but at the time I wasn’t sure. One of my biggest concerns was finding a church where the praise and worship would be accustomed to my extraness. One of my wisest friends says to me “you are so worried about finding an atmosphere that is conducive to your worship but maybe the way you worship is meant to set the atmosphere” That’s when I came to the understanding that worship was part of my gift.
I have finally come to a point where I am absolutely not one bit concerned with how people may perceive the way I choose to worship God. Not only that, I have come to accept that part of my calling is to push people into a deeper level. People look at me. They pay attention to me. I am sure there are a few people who have seen me dancing and jumping and felt just annoyed as I thought they would. But more people look at me and wonder what it is that God did for me the drives me to give him so much energy. More people look at me and find joy. More people look at me and are inspired to praise Him too.
He has pulled me out of the depths of darkness. So I am going to jump. I am going to shout. I am going to cry. I’m going to dance off beat. I am going to convulse and sob uncontrollably. I am going to give Him every bit of energy I have. I am going to worship Him like I am a total psycho because that’s what I’ve been designed to do.