does God know spanglish?

ON SUNDAY I sang with the praise team at church. The team consists of four other young women and the music director/pianist, Osman. He works his magic on the synth to bust out beats and melodies to accompany the songs. It’s impressive.

181015 coro con osmanA decade of music ministry could not keep my voice from shaking as I shared Psalm 121:1-2. Memorizing those verses was my solution to Osman’s request for me to pray. I wondered if the congregants could make out the beautiful words beneath my North American accent.

181015 coroI started to sing. My voice sounded like gravel from a month of underuse. My left ear, still plugged from last week’s beach outing, made it hard to know if I was on pitch. Still I was honored to have the opportunity to serve in such a tangible way – and happy to sing one of my new favorites, Renuévame (see below).

As we sang, I really wanted to lose myself in the moment, eyes closed, arms outstretched, just as I’ve done so many times before. But something held me back.

Music ministry is a struggle for me. On the one hand, music has always been the most intimate way for me to connect with God. I love singing. I love running my fingers along the keys or the strings as an offering of praise. I love being able to express myself truly and completely before God without saying a word.

But put me in front of a crowd, and the pressure to perform, to impress, to be perfect, permeates even the purest of intentions. Add on the challenge of speaking and singing another language, and I become very self-conscious.

What held me back yesterday was the fear of inauthenticity. It felt insincere to offer wholehearted worship in a language I can barely comprehend. I felt like I didn’t have the right to do that. And I didn’t want to draw any more attention to myself than I already did as the only English-speaking-Chinese-American in the room.

If I could turn back the clock, I would’ve plucked that fear out by the roots and chucked it far away. I would’ve replaced it with the assurance that the ultimate value of a song offering is not in how it sounds but in the One to whom it is offered.

Now I remember
how the Bible talks about the nations worshiping God,
how John saw people from “all tribes and peoples and languages” standing before the throne of God (Revelation 7:9-10),
how the Holy Spirit, at Pentecost, enabled people to declare the wonders of God in their own native language (Acts 2).

God understands even my broken Spanish.

After service, I was told to keep the black outfit I had borrowed for the morning. “You’ll need it for next time,” they said.

I’m glad I get to try again. Until then I’ll be listening to Renuévame on repeat. ^^ (The singing starts at 0:40.)


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