This morning has been a morning flooded with memories. Memories of a person I used to be, a person I’ve grown out of. Today—windows down and radio up—I made my way home from work/church (what should I call it now?) the song “Better is One Day” came on the radio. I smirked as I remembered the history I have with that song. Maybe you have history with a song, too.
Stories should start at the beginning. To set the stage, in summer 2008 at the age of 20, I volunteered and was chosen to be a short-term building missionary with Casas por Cristo. After 2 weeks of on-the-site/on-the-sand-dunes training, my first team arrived in El Paso, Texas at 6 AM to meet their intern (me) and cross the border into Juárez, México to build a house in 6 days for a family living in poverty. After about 10 minutes of small talk and introductions, a teenage boy in the group raised his hand and said,
“So when are we gonna meet our building intern?”
Slightly deflated [but faking unaffected], I answered, “You just did!”
Puzzled but honest, he replied, “No, I mean the guy who’s going to lead us on our build this week.”
”…Yep, that’s me.” [insert deflating balloon sound here]
The poor kid didn’t know that my confidence was already hanging on by a thread. I had tried to harness the energy of my terror into excitement that morning. I had avoided sharing that fact that they were, in fact, my first solo build. I was pretending I wasn’t 30 years younger than most the adult chaperones in the group. I had made sure I looked the part in my tool belt and work boots. [Full disclosure: I had taken sandpaper to them the night before so I didn’t look like I had escaped the pages of a Home Depot ad]. I had traced the route we would take into the unmarked streets of Mexico and recounted the turns and roundabouts over and over in my mind. I had checked my radio’s battery at least 20 times.
That kid’s comment still took me from confident to incompetent in 2 seconds flat.
When it was time to leave I debriefed the drivers of the two, 16-passenger vans on border crossing, we were on our way. As I walked ahead to my truck, climbed up into the leather bench seat and slammed the rusting door closed, the tears came instantaneously. As I pulled the shifter down to ‘Drive’ I could barely see. I was terrified. I was convinced I was going to get lost, forget the fiber in the concrete mixture, not be able to translate correctly, forget how to wire the ceiling fan, and eventually die somewhere in the dunes of Juárez with all of my unsuspecting team members.
As I turned out of the lot my hand groped its way to the radio knob and I turned it on to drown the noise of my sobs. As I adjusted the volume the song “Better is One Day” began playing and I immediately felt a peace and outpouring of the Holy Spirit on my physical body. My crying stopped. And in that moment I was convinced that God somehow lived in that song. [side note: I wired the fan perfectly and no one died in Juárez that week]
For years afterward (and many times that same summer) whenever I heard that song I was convinced God was present with me. If that song was playing, then He was watching and listening. Guaranteed.
That was 4 years ago and I haven’t thought of that song in a long time. In those four years I’ve grown leaps and bounds in my faith and I can’t identify with my former self anymore; that girl absolutely convinced God lived in a song.
In that song.
Him: “Remember when you thought I was ONLY with you when this song was playing?”
Me: nervous laughter, “Yeah. That seems pretty superstitious looking back.”
Him: “Well, I am quite pleased we get to hang out more often, now.”
Me: “Me too."
For more on Kayla and her adventures, she blogs regularly at Confessions of a Recovering Perfectionist.