Once upon a time (approximately eight or ten years ago), I took a Multiple Intelligences test. If you’re not familiar with the theory of multiple intelligences, then I encourage you to read up about it, because it’s entirely fascinating and very helpful for understanding yourself—how you interact with and process information—and it can also improve your ability to do life well with your people. My results were not really surprising, but were also very surprising.
There are eight primary intelligence areas that are commonly accepted today:
- Musical intelligence (“music smart”)
- Linguistic intelligence (“word smart”)
- Spatial intelligence (“picture smart”)
- Bodily-Kinesthetic intelligence (“body smart”)
- Logical-mathematical intelligence (“number/reasoning smart”)
- Interpersonal intelligence (“people smart”)
- Intrapersonal intelligence (“self smart”)
- Naturalist intelligence (“nature smart”)
Not surprisingly, I scored around the middle for the last five on that list (45-60%) and well above average for numbers two and three (tied at 75%). What was surprising, though, was my score for musical intelligence: 90%!
Now, I grew up loving music. My dad is a musician (singer-songwriter, trained pianist who can also play by ear, worship leader, etc.), and both of my parents are lovers of music of all kinds. I used to fall asleep at night as a small child listening to my dad play around on the piano downstairs, and he would record tapes for us of our favorite records (yes, I grew up on records and tapes, and if you don’t know what that is then ask Google!), which we played all day long. I began playing piano in the third grade and continued all the way through high school; most of that time I was self-taught or received help from my dad. I also taught myself to play guitar after college (no, I’m not good!) and enjoyed a brief season as part of my church’s bell choir before I moved to Mexico. My real musical niche, however, is singing. I sang my way through childhood, though surprisingly, I was never really interested in choir at school or church or in getting formal voice lessons. I did, however, find myself in a worship band at the age of 18 and have been participating in worship teams and such ever since. I have always enjoyed an uncanny knack with picking up lyrics, melodies, and harmonies, even before I’ve finished listening to a song for the very first time! And lyrics stick with me forever. And I do mean forever (which may also have something to do with my linguistic intelligence).
In high school and college I would joke about how God must have written my soul in song, but I really did mean that as a joke until I took this test and realized it was actually true!
You’d think that if my top intelligence area is music—and especially with a score that high—that I would be one of the most gifted musicians you’d ever met, especially with the musicianship in my genes. Sadly, that is not the case. But just because I am not that person who constantly masters one instrument quickly and then moves right on to the next one with little to no effort, music is inarguably part of my soul’s DNA, and it is an integral part of not just my external surrounding but also my internal landscape. Because that is true, music is one of the primary ways that I process my internal world and my life experiences. It has always been that way, and I’m certain that is because God really did write my soul in song!
There are a few music artists out there whose music always, always—and by always, I do mean every single cotton-pickin’ time—resonates with, reflects, and provides language for understanding and communicating the experiences I have or am currently walking through in this life. Sara Groves is one of them, and in the last two or three years, there are two others who have joined ranks with her in God’s toolbox of music artists: Christa Wells and Jess Ray.
Last Tuesday—April 19—I had the most amazing privilege of helping to host a coffee house show as part of Jess Ray’s Sentimental Creatures Tour. She released the album in May of last year, and I already wrote about how I was introduced to her music and acquired the album. That night I was blessed with the opportunity to hang out with her and Taylor Leonhardt—another amazing singer-songwriter who accompanied Jess on her tour, singing backup for Jess and often sharing a couple of the songs off her own new EP, Truest Things, which dropped in the fall of 2015. Somehow Jess actually read the blog post I wrote about her song, “Deserve,” and before the show that night, I had the opportunity to sit and talk to her about specific ways Pops has used songs from her album to speak into my darkness and work His goodness into it in profound ways.
The show itself was absolutely fantastic for many reasons, and I could go on and on about any one of them. The lyrics, the acoustics, the melodies and harmonies, the blend of their voices, the musical loops (the girl is genius with the technology) that made the music and lyrics swell and fill the space, the ambiance and the stage decor—all of it created this amazing tangible, total-sensory experience. It was literally like sitting inside those big speakers as it all pumped through and out. There just isn’t sufficient human language to describe it.
Had such an amazing time at the @jessray Sentimental Creatures show in Troy, MO. What a treat to spend some time with Jess and @taylorleon before the show at @roastedbeancoffeeshop, and there are no words to describe what it was like to have this music that has been so instrumental in my healing this last 18 months swirling around me LIVE for an hour! I cried all the way home thanking Pops for his extravagant love and how he lavished extras like this on me, simply because it delights Him to do so! Only regret: I forgot to get a picture with them! DOH! Ah well. Jenni and I will just have to make double sure we get pics the next time we see them live! #music #LiveShow #soulcare #sentimentalcreaturestour #ItsHealingMe
But as indescribably awesome as that was, the most amazing part for me was the fact that I got to have that experience with my healing music.
One of the songs on Jess’s album is called “Healing Me.” She wrote it about the kind of friendship that doesn’t try to fix things for you when you’re walking through tragedy/trials/grief and the healing effect that kind of patience, consistency, and presence can have in our lives. There are a few folks who I could easily sing this song to—who have been that kind of friend to me as I walk through dark places—and I’m sure I will write later about some of the other ways this particular song resonates with some of my experiences. But as I drove away from the show that night, with that thought rolling around in my head about how I’d just gotten to sit in the live swirl of my healing music, the final chorus and tag of this song started running through my mind:
Everyone says talk about it, but every time I open my mouth
It all gets tangled up on its way out.
Every time you come around, you’re feeling like my home now
I feel like I can let my hair down.
Oh it comes so naturally
Sit down beside me, you don’t have to say a thing
Oh it comes so easily, so comfortably
Its healing me.
That last line—”It’s healing me”—that is what Pops has done for me with Jess’s music. He has used it in integral ways in my healing process. Through the songs on this album, He scaled the walls and got on the inside of parts of my heart that had always felt completely inaccessible, even to me. He untangled things and made Himself my home. He got in and sat down and turned it into something easy and comfortable even when it’s hard and scary.
I don’t go to concerts often, and when I do, it’s always a pretty epic experience. But this—this was something beyond epic. I don’t have words for it, but it was definitely unforgettable. I drove home that night crying tears of gratitude for the ways that Pops lavishes extravagant love on me through tiny details like this experience. Zephaniah 3:17 says,
Yahweh your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.
As I reflect on the gift that this show was for me, I definitely experienced my Pops in all of those ways: I was reminded of how mighty He is to save me, how delighted He is in me because He has made me His own through Christ, how deeply His love does indeed quiet me (“Sit down beside me, you don’t have to say a thing”), and how He was there in that coffee house that night delighting over me—the two of us celebrating together where we are and how far we’ve come—through the songs He has used to pour healing into my heart and life.
There are so many little steps that led to this event happening, and I can see how God orchestrated each one. I’m so grateful—grateful beyond the power of expression—because I can see now:
He’s healing me.