“Oh, Taste & See” by Ashley Phelps

This week I invited my wife Ashley to post about her first experience writing a song. I love hearing her share and being able to watch the transformation take place. – Jason

Songwriting has never been something that has piqued my interest, which comes as a surprise to many people as I spent four years in college to get a degree in Music Performance.  That last word in my degree “title” has been the key to my mask I like to hide behind– performance.  I’ve always found comfort and strength in being a great interpreter of the work others have done, from operas to broadway musicals.  I love creating a character and pouring myself into filling it, giving life and meaning to the black and white structure of sheet music and scripts.  My husband challenged me to press deeper into why I have always been so afraid to be vulnerable in sharing original art I have created.  It’s not that I’ve just been afraid to share it– I’ve never even written a song before.  Both before and after writing “Oh Taste and See” based on Psalm 34, I pressed into what the Lord was inviting me into, and began to ask Him why I am so fearful of the creative process.  Here are a few of the things He has said and continues to say to me.

I have made you in a specific way for a specific purpose.

Often I have asked God why He made me the way He did.  Why would you give me artistic gifts with a mind that loves structure, rules, and constraints?  I believe the Lord has revealed to me that this is why I so enjoy interpreting art rather than creating it.  I am able to use the tangible life experiences I have had to create a character, a mask, if you will.  While this has always been my justification for not making original art, He showed me just how He was able to use this for His glory.  The Psalms are actually songs that David wrote.  While we don’t have the original music that David may have used for these pieces of poetry, we have his words.  Instead of creating something completely new from my own mind, I was able to interpret David’s words, and in doing so, also create a fresh piece of art.  It was not only comforting to not completely venture off into my on mind, but it was so freeing!  To finally hear something that was in my head come out of my mouth and my husband’s hands on a guitar was liberating.  Beyond just writing a song about a tough breakup, or fanciful dreams I have, I had a stronghold in David’s words about our Father.  God used my love for interpretation to create something not just deeply personal, but also something for His people to worship with.

I want you to be vulnerable.  When you are vulnerable, you let Me in to do great things.

I have always hated being vulnerable.  Vulnerability to me always meant weakness, and a big opportunity for someone to leave me with an emotional scar.  The kind of vulnerability that Jesus wants me to have is not the same definition that I have always envisioned.  While its true that vulnerability can allow others to “step in” to softer places in your heart, it also allows Him to strengthen those parts.  His power is made perfect in my weakness.  By being vulnerable and sharing the words in my heart after reading His word, I invited Jesus to see me in a more personal light. Even though He is capable of seeing my personal thoughts whether I want Him to or not, an invitation for Him to enter is far more welcoming than Him busting down the door to get there.  The level of intimacy that I share with Jesus when I invite Him into my vulnerability is perfect, and without fear of being hurt by it.  While I try and say I will never write another song again because I hate being vulnerable, I can say without question that that is my sinful self talking and not true.

After writing my first song my eyes have been opened to the fact that we are all interpreters–not just me.  That is why we have His word.  To interpret and share with others.  It’s most certainly a journey to let down the mask we hold up to let Him in, but that release of control allows Him to do far better things than we would ever do on our own.

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