, , ,

My Daddy’s family had some very musically talented folks. So many either sang or played an instrument. Daddy tried to teach me to play the guitar, but he always said I quit when I couldn’t play the “Spanish Fandango” after the first lesson. How I wish I’d stuck with it.

I couldn’t play the guitar, and I could barely read piano music, but I LOVED to sing and dance. I’d spend every penny of my allowance on 45’s, playing them over and over, learning every word, and singing in my hairbrush as my microphone.

We went to a little country church with my Grandma Bunton and my Aunt Bet. They loved the Lord, and they kept the rules. I remember a lot of hell-fire and damnation preaching, but I also remember my sweet Grandma singing the old hymns she loved so dearly. She had the most beautiful alto voice, bringing the special music nearly every week.

They used to ask me to sing at church, too, and since I wanted to be just like Grandma, and I didn’t have a shy bone in my body, I was happy to oblige. I would dutifully sing the old stand-by’s like Jesus Loves Me and Jesus Loves the Little Children. But those were getting old . . . .

I was only four years old, but I can remember it so clearly. I had on a new pair of white Go-Go boots (the height of fashion in 1969!), and it seemed like a good time to shake it up a bit and sing my favorite song: Harper Valley PTA!

For those of you young’un’s who’ve never heard of that song, it’s about a single mother raising her daughter, and the local PTA thinks she wears her mini skirts too short, so she calls out all their hypocritical behavior. I encourage you to check out Jeannie C. Riley rocking her own white Go-Go boots and enjoy a real classic by clicking this link for your viewing pleasure:

Jeannie C. Riley’s Harper Valley PTA

I had my hand on my hip, shakin’ my stuff, belting out as loudly as I could, I WANNA TELL YOU ALL A STORY ‘BOUT A HARPER VALLEY WIDOWED WIFE . . . 

I can still see my Mama’s shocked face, my sister holding her hand over her mouth, trying hard not to laugh out loud, and Mrs. Rayle on the front row, hurrying to shut down my Go-Go dancing performance. I never got past the first verse . . .

That may have been the end of my singing career at Plainview Baptist Church.

Sometime along in my mid teens, however, I started to think my personality wasn’t optimal. I believed the lie that I was too outgoing, that there was something wrong with being an extrovert. I spent the next 25 years asking God to change me, help me be someone else. I tried really hard, and almost always failed, to be the quiet type.

Every time I was with people and the real me would inevitably come out, I would feel guilty later. Time after time, I would resolve myself to try harder not to draw any attention to myself. But inside, I was still that little girl, holding her hairbrush, singing and dancing in her room. When no one was looking and I was home alone, I could be me.

I got my love of music from my Daddy’s side, but I got my MOUTH from my mother’s side. When the Edwards family gets together, it can be chaotic, it’s always loud, and to me, always fun. They fussed and argued, but they loved each other, and I loved them dearly.

In 2005, my Grandpa Edwards died of a stroke. I sat there in the funeral home, trying to be quiet, trying to not talk to too many people — I’d gotten into the habit of constantly reminding myself of how I was supposed to act: be quiet, don’t talk too much, just sit there, no one really cares what you have to say, begging God to help me not to be me. It was an impossible task.

I watched my uncles, aunts and cousins talk to one another, and laugh and cut up. You see, my Grandpa Edwards loved the Lord, and although we were going to miss him terribly, we all knew he had been ready to go for years, and we would see him again. He was always the life of the party, and he would have wanted us to celebrate his life.

As I observed everyone else cutting up, very clearly, the still, small voice of the Spirit said to me, “Look at them. They’re fearfully and wonderfully made, just like you are. Don’t be ashamed of how I made you. I didn’t make a mistake. There’s nothing wrong with them, and there’s nothing wrong with you either.

I felt a burden I’d been carrying for 25 years lift off my shoulders. I had been given this personality just the same as I’d been born a girl with brown eyes and blonde hair. Girls are not less than boys, brown eyes are not less than green or blue, and blonde isn’t less than brown, black or red; so being an extrovert wasn’t less than being an introvert. I wasn’t sinless, but I was okay. Just like I was.

That does NOT mean I don’t have to bring my personality under submission! I shouldn’t be talking when I’m supposed to be listening, and acting silly when I’m supposed to be serious. But it DOES mean I don’t have to be ashamed of how God made me, and neither do you!! Zephaniah 3:17 says,

The Lord your God is with you,
    the Mighty Warrior who saves.
He will take great delight in you;
    in his love he will no longer rebuke you,
    but will rejoice over you with singing.

He loves to sing and rejoice over us, as He delights in His creation!

These days, I sing and dance to my heart’s content! My children love music as well, and they will grab a hairbrush and sing along with their Mama at the drop of a hat. I’m the first one on the dance floor at weddings and the last one to leave.

If you pull up beside me at an intersection, you’re likely to see me having my own little concert. If my husband is driving, you might even see me hanging out the sunroof, singing at the top of my lungs. He doesn’t mind. Just like Jesus, he loves me just like I am.

If you’ve felt there’s something wrong with your personality, that you’re less than others, if someone has told you you’re not good enough, don’t believe the lie. Hold your head high, straighten your back and stand tall. The Creator of the Universe takes great delight in you — this is your awakening.