We're back in The Netherlands! The first thing I thought when I walked into my house was: "I LOVE MY HOME." Seriously. We had a couple days together battling jet lag, and then I headed off to Amsterdam to take part in an International Songwriters Retreat. By the way, Wim is an amazing husband and dad, because I basically abandoned him with two irregularly sleeping children while he was also exhausted himself...
Anyways, back to the retreat. So I arrived, also jet lagged, and pretty overwhelmed by all the new people. I used to think of myself as an extrovert, but in these large (and new) social situations I'm not so sure. I just found my safe place, back to the coffee bar counter and chatted with a few fellow English speakers. After a few hours, the tension started to ease and I felt more relaxed. I started to meet some of the people in the group and enjoyed hearing their stories. In the evening there was an open mic and I got to sing one of my songs. People liked it, which was awesome and felt great, and I went to bed satisfied.
As a musician, and I think most musicians can relate to me here, one of my biggest enemies is comparison. Whether it's comparing myself to someone I deem to be better, or "worse" than me. Fittingly, the day I arrived to the retreat I saw this photo on Facebook...
So the next morning before I left my room, I had to put off comparison, pride, judgement, insecurity and chose to go and be a blessing to those around me. I love and am learning to see the "gold" in people and call it to the surface. That morning as I ate breakfast with my fellow participants, I listened and observed and shared what I saw. And people were encouraged. YES! Exciting, I love it. I kept doing my best to follow in that pattern throughout the retreat, and it was pretty successful. I found that applauding the talents, gifts, positive things in others is probably the most deadly tool to counter insecurity. Cause you take the focus off of yourself. I heard a great teaching that said something like, 'True humility is not thinking less of yourself, it's just thinking less often about yourself'. True dat.
By the way, little newsflash: I do think there is a difference between flattery and encouragement, and I try to stay on the encouragement side. I would say flattery is just saying stuff to get people to like you, and encouragement is sharing what you've observed or what God has shown you about a person with the intention to build them up... them liking you can be just a byproduct of encouraging, but it's not the goal.
One of our retreat speakers was Graham Kendrick. You know, the guy who wrote a ton of deep and famous worship songs? Shine Jesus Shine... Knowing You Jesus... Amazing Love... The Servant King... yeah that guy. :-) Anyways, I was so impressed with his singing voice the first evening when he sang for us, and I wanted to share that with him. I told him I felt like he has a special tone in his singing voice that really reaches deep into the hearts of those listening. And you know what? He was encouraged and said he still needed to hear those kinds of things. WHAT?! I had thought that after you achieve a certain amount of success, you get pretty solid in your gift and don't need much encouragement from others. But I was wrong. (Graham, if you ever read this, I think you're awesome and a humble example of excellence!)
So what did I learn from this whole thing? Quite a few things about songwriting, of course. But also that encouragement kicks butt. Seriously. It counters insecurity, builds people up and everyone feels good afterwards!
Oh you know, just me and Graham Kendrick, master songwriter of all time, taking a photo together.