Sunday Chorus concert Brentwood Academy
This past Sunday, I had one of those ‘unexpected mama moments’ when you wish you could freeze time. I was blindsided by my emotions as I sat at Benji’s school chorus concert. He led his choir in Paul Baloche’s well known worship song, “Open The Eyes of My Heart”. Benji had a life changing experience in Haiti this January on a winterim trip with his school, so he sang it in Creole and in English.
I knew he had the solo, but I had no idea how it would feel to watch him lead this song that I had sung countless times through the years as a worship leader myself. Since he could talk (and sing), Benji always sang his heart out in the car and at church, school, anywhere he could… very much like I did as a kid.
Some of my favorite moments from his childhood were hearing him sing praise songs while raising his little hand, as he had his own “church service” in the backseat of my car.
Sometimes, he would even chime in if he heard a lyric on the radio that didn’t fit his ‘preschool theology’. I remember one time when Sheryl Crow sang “I’m still the king of me” in one of her songs and he interrupted her song and said, “No, your not, God is!”
Benji elementary school
Though he loved music, like a lot of kids in Nashville with parents in Christian music, Benji told me early on that he didn’t necessarily want to” follow in my footsteps into the Christian music scene”. He announced to me that he wanted to be a “hip hop/pop artist in mainstream music as a Christian”. Earlier it was “just rap”, but we’ve thankfully progressed from there. He went on to say that “when he was ‘rich and famous’ he’d give money to orphans in Russia”. (Side note—I’d visited orphanages in Russia around that time and he and Graham both begged me to bring home brothers for them, but as a single mom, I had to tell them that wasn’t something I could take on.)
For the past several years, I’ve supported Benji doing what his heart tells him to do with his music. It hasn’t always been easy, but I’ve had to trust God with a bigger plan than what Benji has or what I could have for him. It helped that he promised me that “he talked to Jesus about it, that he’d keep his lyrics clean and his pants pulled up”, but I also know the pitfalls of ANY genre in the music world, so I spent many nights praying for protection and wisdom for him and those of us helping to guide him.
It’s been a tough couple of years for him as he’s learned some things the hard way, but that’s a whole other story for another day….
Anyway, on Sunday, as soon as Benji opened his mouth to sing, a steady stream of tears poured down my face. I was so happy, so full of joy and gratitude, that I could barely handle it. I was trying to video him and trying not to embarrass him, since I was sitting on the front row. It was one of those moments as Mama that you see a little piece of the fruit of your labor and a glimpse into who your child has grown up to be. To see the same little heart that used to sing at the top of his lungs in his car seat now singing as a 17-year-old young man was a truly priceless gift on an otherwise normal Sunday afternoon.
If you’re a Mama, you’ve probably had one of these moments where you get to “see” your child operating in their gifts and talents, as well as in their own unique personality. It truly is more precious than anything you can describe when they happen. Sometimes they’re in public and sometimes in private. When you see your child do something kind for a stranger or to a sibling, it’s pure healing oil for our “road weary” mama hearts. Many of you saw the videos I posted earlier this week and sent so many kind words, so I wanted to share a little more in the hope that it encourages you today if you may be in the ‘hidden and dark places’ of the “growing” season with a son.
I don’t know what the future holds for Benji, but I do know that I can trust God to help him find his way. I’m grateful that several years ago when he dropped the “I want to be a rapper bomb on me” (before LeCrae and TobyMac showed you can do positive rap and hip hop), that I didn’t react out of my own desires for him.
I’m grateful for some of the brave folks in my world that told me not to limit what God had for Benji or to “put him in a box”. I found a way to trust Proverbs 22:6 that says “train up a child in the way he should go”, not necessarily the way “I think he needs to go”, but the way God uniquely designed him. For my son to go into the world as his own “original version of himself” – bringing what only he can bring is what I believe I’m to train him for!
I may never see Benji led a worship song again, or it may be what he ultimately does for a career, I don’t have a blueprint for his life and calling. But, for me as his Mama and biggest fan, those 2 minutes and 30 seconds on Sunday, were a little taste of heaven and reminded me that God’s timing and plans are much better than mine.
Here’s a little video snippet. Click here to watch.