Finding her voice again: a testimony
by You Have My Word
[This is the incredible testimony of a really good friend of mine – God’s healing in action. Read and be refreshed.]
Sometimes worship really sucks… or at least that’s what I started to think.
My name is Tanya. I’ve been involved in Eastside’s worship team for 10 years. I started playing bass on the worship team when I was in high school, even though I had nothing on the guys that play on the team today… I knew like two notes. The worship team at Eastside was the first ministry that I was involved in, second to Holiday Club, and has remained a primary area of serving and great joy in my life. I would like to share my testimony with you and my prayer is that you would not only hear what God has taught me, but what He wants to teach you.
Towards the end of last year, I started experiencing problems with my voice – struggling to sing at certain pitches, and with the same intensity that I was used to. Since it was over the December holidays, I tried to attribute it to a number of different external factors. When I came home from holiday in January this year, whilst leading worship, I still struggled, and remember asking Riaan (our lead pastor) to pray for me one night after church, saying that I thought there was something wrong with my voice.
I have just finished a two-year Masters Degree in Music Therapy, and for the sake of time, I am not going to go into a long explanation about what music therapy is, except to say that the voice is an integral part of what I do. I had always used my voice for two primary purposes in life:
- To bring glory to God through worship
- To help and bring healing people through music as a form of therapy
In this time, it felt like those purposes had been taken away from me. After visiting the Ear, Nose, Throat Specialist (ENT) in February, I discovered that I had a nodule on my left vocal chord which I struggled with for most of this year. A nodule is a small mass of tissue that forms around the vocal chord, restricting sound production, producing hoarseness of speech, painful vocal production, frequent vocal breaks, and reduced vocal range. In order to treat a nodule, one either has to rest the voice completely (not an option for me), go for voice therapy with a speech therapist (which I have done for most of this year), or remove the nodules surgically – a very high risk operation – with only 50% chance of success.
I saw an ENT three times during the course of this year. The first two times the nodule looked much the same. The third time, which was recently (in September) he told me that the nodule had gotten worse, and that we would probably have to remove it. All of a sudden I only had 50% chance of ever having my voice back.
During this year, I started to become restless, longing to sing again, but wondering why I could not. I was trying to hear Gods voice in the midst of my need to sing, but was still not satisfied with the state of things. It was at this point in my life that I started getting strong impressions on my heart about song lyrics, melodies and ideas. At the same point, the theme song for our 40 day journey (The Most Loving Place in Town) was impressed on my heart: “We will Love”. I didn’t want to accept the fact that I may never worship God with my voice again, but I was excited about this new path that God was leading me down. Perhaps this was God’s way of keeping me busy? I have never been a natural song writer, which made me certain that this gifting was from God – I couldn’t do it in my own strength.
Soon after my final appointment with the ENT in September, I became very ill, developing laryngitis (soon after Church camp), losing my voice completely. For two days I had no voice at all, which was an extremely frustrating time. Never mind not having a good-enough voice… having no voice is worse. I spent a lot of time in reflection and prayer during this time, and a friend of mine, Ina, took time out of her day to come and pray with me. We sat under the trees at my house, and she anointed me with oil, as we spent a great deal of time in prayer.
“Are any of you suffering hardships? You should pray. Are any of you happy? You should sing praises. Are any of you sick? You should call for the elders of the church to come and pray over you, anointing you with oil in the name of the Lord. Such a prayer offered in faith will heal the sick, and the Lord will make you well” (James 5:13-15)
Over the next few days, my voice slowly returned, and I had to return to clinical work, where I was required to start singing again. As I was reintroduced to my voice, I noticed that my tone had changed, it was no longer hoarse, I no longer had difficultly in the same pitch range as before. When my speaking voice had fully returned, I started testing and playing with my voice, trying out new pitch ranges and melodic lines to see what my voice could do. To my surprise, I could reach every note that I could before, with no difficultly in tone production or pain. That same day I saw my two voice therapists who looked at me strangely when I burst into the room with “I am healed”. It was at this moment that I came to the realisation that I was fully healed and that I could fully attribute this to prayer.
During the course of this year I have wrestled with many things:
- Why would God take my voice away from me if I was only using it to bring glory to His name?
- Would I always be the worship leader without a voice, the music therapist without a song?
- What about the timing? Couldn’t it have happened in a less hectic time of my life?
Through this questioning, and seeking after God, he revealed some amazing things to me:
- My voice is not mine, and never has been. It has always been a gift from God, and I should treat it that way. My song has become… “you give and take away, my heart will choose to say, Lord, blessed be Your name”
- There is more to worshiping God than music. Every worship set every Sunday was a painful experience for me as I longed to shout out a song of praise to God, but couldn’t. During these difficult times, God impressed a great deal of things on my heart, and spoke to me very clearly through this Word.
Now, when I worship God with my voice, I am broken. I am overwhelmed at the gift of worship through music that God has given us all, and don’t know how to worship Him anymore without having a profound experience of His presence. I believe this is the way it should be: a powerful, intense, moving experience of the Almighty Creator every time we worship Him, in whatever form.
I don’t think God is done with me yet. His power is made perfect in my weakness.