I went to the Holy Land in the Spring of 2014. Israel was amazing. It truly was a privilege to be able to go. Regardless of your beliefs or background, you can't deny the richness of history and culture there. I went as a worship leader for the trip with a local church, and ironically, it was the first time I ever asked myself if that pursuit (being a worship leader) was the calling I should continue to chase.
I had several great conversations while on that trip. One talk in particular was about giving up everything you knew, with an open heart to what might be. For me, it was music. From an early age, I had always assumed that's what I should do. In ten years of leading worship I had never actually contended with the possibility that I shouldn't continue pursuing it as a vocation. As I hauled my guitar through the airport on the way home, it pained me to think about selling everything I had (music gear) and offering a blank slate for my "calling."
Over two years later, I now own one acoustic guitar and have not stood on a stage in quite some time, which is a drastic change from where I was at. I know it may sound crazy, but it's been one of the more freeing decisions I've made. It scared me so much, though, at the time. Music and worship were a huge part of my life, and coming out of the fully immersed pursuit of that vocation has shown me a few things:
Some seasons are purposeful and wonderful, but they are seasons, nonetheless.
Closing a chapter does not mean failing a chapter. It's easy to let the fact that you've been doing something for a long time justify continuing to do the same, or blind you to the doors that are closing and opening around you.
Talent does not equal calling.
Being capable and being called aren't always the same thing. Identity can too easily get tied up in what you do, rather than who you are. In all areas labor and love, the outer is a reflection of the inner, and with the corresponding season of doubt I was having, it was a strenuous mental back-and-forth.
Passions don't have to be careers to be meaningful.
For a long time the music option felt like all or nothing. If I couldn't do it full time, then I had failed. When in reality, some of the most incredible opportunities I had were in a part-time, or even informal, context. And even if I never set foot on a stage or in front of a group of people again, I have the joy of music in my personal life.
It's been a really hard transition. I still look back on that period of my life with a lot of emotion. I remember early morning prayer meetings in high school, the voices of youth shouting praises of newfound love and adoration at camps, spending three days a week at the church, the sound of multiple tongues singing the same truth in foreign countries, the feeling of belting out that Christ is risen on the Mount of Olives...
I feel happy and sad all at the same time. Music took me a lot of different places, literally and figuratively. I grew a lot as a person and leader, and I would trade nothing for those experiences.
I'm not necessarily declaring I'm through with it all, but I am at a place where it's hard to imagine the future I once had in mind for myself, and that's okay. Regardless, I'm always open to how the Spirit might lead.