When you leave every familiar place and everyone you know to chase a songwriting dream to Nashville TN, your eyes are wide, your hope tank is full, and you are sure beyond a measure of a doubt that it is all about to happen for you. Every big meeting, every chance to play out might be the one to unplug the dam and let the waters of opportunity rush forth. Lord willing, you have enough advanced warning about an industry meeting, and therefore time to get your whole—and I mean your whole —bible study lady-prayer-warriors on the job. Bless them.
Ten years ago, I did just that, and for anyone who knows what I’m talking about when I say “chase a dream” I want to speak to your heart, straight from mine. The words are tough but the truths are freeing:
1. God cares more about your holiness than your happiness.
Let that sink in for a minute. Our God is so incredibly wise and good that He will not give you anything that you think is better than Himself. He is too good to let us be satisfied with anything less than Him. How precious that even when we beg for His presents, He offers His presence. What a greater gift.
2. You are already enough for Him.
You don’t have to do anything—no, you can’t do anything—to earn a better standing with the Lord who made heaven and earth and you. You didn’t earn your place into heaven and you definitely aren’t earning your place into His heart. You are already lavished—dripping, saturated, glazed on, seeping over and spilling onto the floor, lavished—with God’s affectionate satisfaction. (Psalm 33:5) He values you as much as He values whatever major kingdom players you can think of right now. He proved that fully and finally on the cross.
For a long time I was striving to add worth to the Kingdom, thinking it would add worth to myself. I knew that my worth came from Christ only, but I got confused. For some reason, because I was (am) convinced that songwriting for the CCM market is my calling, I only counted wins in that realm as wins for the kingdom.
But do you know what our good and kind Shepherd said to this little lamb who was lost in the woods of discouragement? He said “I have chosen you. Already. I have chosen you before the foundations of the world. (Ephesians 1:4) I have called you. Walk in obedience because obedience IS the victory. (Proverbs 16:20) I am using you. I am Jehova El Roi the God who sees you. (Genesis 16:13) I am with you. I have surrounded you. I literally hem you in behind and before. (Psalm 139:5) I am always for you and my plans are always for your good. (Jeremiah 29:11) Your songs are both gifts from Me and gifts for Me. (Psalm 40:3) Don’t want the gift more than the Giver. I don’t need you but I love to use you. (Acts 17:25)
And then do you know what He said? He said, “Even if you were the best writer in the world, you could never write a song that I would love more than I love YOU.”
Doesn’t that take the pressure off? If you are feeling discouraged with your writing journey, or whatever journey you’re on—He hasn’t forgotten you. If you realize that you’ve been craving the opportunities more than the Opportunity Giver, talk to Him about it. Confess it. He will always lovingly pull you close.
3. It’s never about anything besides loving God, and loving people.
Every meeting I had with a publisher, label head, or industry veteran over the past 10 years of being in Nashville was a tiny step on my path to where I am now. I’ve had many songs go out and touch lives and take on wings. I write toward that and I love when that happens, but do you want to know something? I’m learning that the ultimate joy isn’t found in these moments of success. The ultimate joy has been found in getting to know the Father’s heart along the way.
Let each industry contact (they are not just contacts they are God’s image-bearing people trying to do their best) see Christ in you. Let them see Christ as you interact, as you play them your best, as you follow up with a “thank you for taking the time” note. Love without hidden motive. Then, whether they give the songs you pitch them wings or not, your songs were already the vehicles for Christ to be glorified.
Songwriter, Encourager, Peanut butter Jelly maker
Julie lives in Mount Juliet, Tennessee with her husband David and two little boys, Conner and Ethan...and one on the way.