Worship God with gladness; come before God with joyful songs. – Psalm 100:2 (NIV)
When I was a child, I used to joke about elders at my childhood church who sang the same songs over and over again. Like clockwork, if these folks led a prayer or gave a testimony, they always sang the same song before they started talking.
Childhood me would probably have a good laugh at adult me singing the same song every time I go to a karaoke night. Everyone who does karaoke with me knows I will grab the mic and whisper, “At first I was afraid, I was petrified…,” with the delusion that I’m giving Gloria Gaynor a run for her money.
Karaoke is one of the activities I do when I’m reaching for joy. It can be a stressful week at work, or I can be at the center of an interpersonal conflict, and somehow finding a karaoke stage makes it all better.
This is especially true when I sing my trademark song. Every time I croon “I Will Survive,” my muscles and my heart remember the joy and power I’ve felt every time I sang that song. Belting “I Will Survive” to dancing strangers makes joy seem possible again, even if it feels impossible in the moment.
Time is often a teacher, and I’m glad for the lesson my elders taught me before I was mature enough to understand it.
These elders had plenty of other songs to sing, but they knew that there are spiritual remedies embedded in the joyous music we sing from a broken heart.
Thank you for the soundtracks that keep saving my life. May each replay unbreak my heart over and over again.
Marchaé Grair is a spiritual director, facilitator, and the Director of Public Relations and Outreach at the Unitarian Universalist Association. Follow her work at marchae.com.