During the summer months, my morning walks put me outside as the sun is beginning to rise and the birds begin to sing. There is a particular sparrow whose song is one of my favorites to hear. Last week I was at Lake Junaluska for SoulFeast, and I noticed that every time I was walking back and forth to Morning Prayer or to workshops, I heard that same sparrow’s song. It’s a simple, sweet song, with a few variations, sung over and over again.
I wonder if this sparrow ever gets tired of singing its song. I wonder if it ever wishes that it could sing the songs of other birds. I wonder if it ever wishes to be a mockingbird, which loudly and enthusiastically sings the songs of other birds and even mimics other sounds it hears. (Once, I heard a mockingbird singing the backup beep sound. It was so authentic sounding I began looking for the vehicle that was producing it!)
I wonder how much I am like the mockingbird, listening to and singing the songs of others, rather than sticking to my own song. In an effort to please others, I can end up singing what I think someone wants to hear, rather than singing with my authentic voice the song God has given me to sing. The problem with trying to please others is that I can end up sounding like the mockingbird, singing only little bits of each song, so that I sound disjointed and scattered. While God created the mockingbird to string together the songs it hears, God did not create us to speak with every voice we hear.
Over the past couple of months, I have been discovering my authentic song. I’ve examined my spiritual gifts, thought about my deepest desires, and looked at how my choices either move me toward my deepest desires or take me away from them. Through this process, I realize that I have spent a large part of my life as a mockingbird, singing whatever song meets the expectations of others. Because different people have different expectations, I’ve switched songs depending on my audience. Trying to keep up with so many songs created much dis-ease within me, and I did not realize how much this was affecting my relationship with God until I began to peel away the layers of songs that were hiding God’s authentic song for me from myself.
I don’t believe the process is complete, but I have come to understand that for me to be who God created me to be I need to be a sparrow, not a mockingbird. I need to sing the song that is uniquely mine to sing. Some may like my song, some may not. That’s okay, because ultimately, the one for whom I sing is God. Not everyone will hear my song, and it’s not up to me to make sure that my song is heard. It is my task to faithfully sing my song, trusting that God will use it however God desires. And that is certainly sufficient for me!