What I’ve learned since moving to Nashville 1 year ago…

Saturday, January 28th, 2017 Music

Over the last year, Music City has welcomed me in with open arms. In Nashville, strangers are really just friends that you have yet to meet. We are a uniquely friendly, creative, bold, quirky, and brave bunch.

This weekend marks one year since that unusually snowy weekend that I moved to Nashville. I packed up my car, and my parents (and Jake, our doggie!) followed me south down highway 65, all the way to Nashville, the place I’d been dreaming of living for years. The place that seemed like an unreachable pipe dream. Tennessee only has something like 8 snow plows in the entire state, and each of them were out that weekend. The streets were iced over, the city was just about shut down, but we made it. It was just after 11 pm, and although the darkness and unfamiliarity of the city could’ve scared me, I seemed to shine a little bit brighter that night. I became alive standing at the edge of my comfort zone.

I began singing my heart out on Nashville’s downtown Broadway strip. Although Broadway is a bit of a circus, and it’s not exactly my current cup o’ tea, I will always be deeply grateful for the opportunities that it gave me. What really was a blessing is that my shows seemed to attract a lot of incredible people. Fans that I will always cherish – the cutest kids and big kids from all over the world, many of whom I still stay in touch with to this day! To all of you reading this, thank you for encouraging, supporting, and being in my life!

After a few months of consistently playing in downtown Nashville, I found that I wasn’t as happy as I thought I’d be. I was tired of the bar scene, tired of being – let’s be real – objectified, tired of losing my voice over singing 4 hour shows for mostly drunk people who didn’t really care who was up there singing. So I quit the downtown scene and decided to pave my own path. To figure out how to make it work, my way. (PS – if you’re reading this and you play downtown, major props to you – this is just my personal experience)

I moved here with a dream. A dream to sing and to share my story through my platform as a musician. The goal was never to impress people but it was always to connect with people in a way that only music can. To use my “platform” as a way to positively change the world around me.

And then He broke through 🙏🏼

The dream that I moved here with seemed to be for the benefit of the world, but when it comes down to it, it was all about me. It was all about the platform that I was creating. It was all about getting in the spotlight in order to serve others…but it was still about me – because I felt that it was up to me – it was important for me to share my story. ouch. 🙈

I didn’t even realize that I was doing this. I thought my intentions were good, selfless and maybe even…noble?

Little did I know, God had a whole other plan for getting me down to Nashville.

In March, a friend of mine, Corrie, invited me to her church. I walked in and immediately knew I wasn’t in Kansas anymore. 👠 The service was held at a concert venue, complete with twinkly lights, a full rock band and people with their hands raised up – worshipping without shame.

To a Catholic girl, this was nutty. I intentionally chose to sit in the exit row that night, just in case I wanted to leave. 😂

But something in me told me to go back. Week after week buckets of tears rolled down my cheeks. It was like I was being cleansed, baptized even, by my own tears. Shedding away the old me and all of the heaviness that I didn’t even realize I was carrying.

I realized that I was exhausted. So tired of striving to create a platform. So tired of trying so hard to be good enough for God to be proud of me. So tired of living a life that, when it came down to it, was all about me: how many likes I could get, how much better I could get at songwriting, how clear my skin was, how much smaller my jean size could get, and how many people recognized my name. Cringe. I was lost in trying so hard, living in a state of tension because I could never measure up to the perfect version of me that I put together in my head. I was constantly upset with myself over not being better, not being skinnier, prettier….

This church community knew God in a way that I never did. They seemed to know something I didn’t. The people were so at peace – not in a weird, creepy way. In a totally authentic, loving way. Quite honestly, they were glowing. There was an unshakeable presence of confidence, an authentic spring of freedom that the people I met there incapsulated. Their lives were a testament to the peace and joy that is only accessible through a relationship with God. I wanted that more than anything, so I kept showing up. I wanted to figure it out for myself.

And then one night one of the pastors, Henry Seeley, spoke a message about how we must give up the selfish desire to get up on a platform and instead live with a desire to serve the platform (Jesus). Many of the people at this church are musicians, and many of them, like me, came to Nashville with a big dream. So this message really hit home. It completely changed my heart. I felt like God took me by my feet and shook all of the loose change out of my pockets. He had to empty me of what I thought was right in order to rebuild me to be after His heart. ♥

I’ve realized that this blog, my music, my writing, my speaking — it’s not about me at all. It’s actually all about God – everything that I do, every part of my life, every little and big triumph that I have, is actually only about God. Every talent and gift that we’ve been given, it’s a gift that’s been given to us so that we can give Him all the glory. It has nothing to do with me. Humbling, yet also…liberating. If it’s no longer about me, then I don’t need to strive anymore. I also can be a whole lot braver, because anything that anyone has to say about me doesn’t have to hurt because, again, it’s not about me. I’m covered, protected, secure in His embrace. My job is just to trust Him and not be afraid to be bold, not be afraid to share how He has given me a peace unlike anything I have ever, ever, ever experienced on earth. If God wants to promote me in my career, He will…because there is no door man can shut that God cannot open. My life, my career, everything is in His hands. He can manage it way better than I can, anyways!

I used to think I knew what it meant to be free. I described myself as a ‘free spirit’ for goodness sake! But, my God, I never knew. I was a prisoner to things outside of myself that I thought would make me feel free (this will be another post). I can tell you with all my heart, I never knew what freedom felt like until I met Jesus in a whole new way this year.

If you know me, you know that God has always played a starring role in my life. But, instead of treating Him like a Father, I saw Him as more of an employer. I thought I needed to impress Him with my life, to become kinder, friendlier, smilier, better, stronger, do more service work, stop being a sinner, in order for Him to love me more…I could never become free because I was never good enough, I could never become good enough. After all, I’m only human 😉

But, He doesn’t want me to impress Him. He just wants me to love Him. He wants me to see Him as my Father. To allow myself to be loved by Him, and to really rest in that, to lean back and…trust Him to make all of the big moves. All I have to do is keep my eyes on Him, to stay close to Him. To serve Him out of a heart of being in love, not out of fear of not being good enough.

My whole life changed. As Romans 6:6 says, “For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin.”

The call that He has on my life is requiring a lot more courage than I originally was prepared for, but equipped with His armor, I know I can do all things (Phil 4:13). I’m excited to share my journey of getting to know Him better through this blog. You can expect a lot of vulnerability (per usual), and a whole lot of encouragement for your personal journey 💖

I hope you choose to stick around my digital front porch, darlin 😘

 


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2 Responses to “What I’ve learned since moving to Nashville 1 year ago…”

  • Andrew June 15, 2017

    Thank you for that.

    I recently moved to Nashville and have played down on broadway and really don’t want to be in the bar scene or drink.

    I just want to be free.

    I left my lady back in Arizona and now I am here all alone.

    I’m 28 and I feel exactly how you described. In a lot of ways I understand that I am serving god but I don’t believe I’m in line with my music and being here now.

    Very homesick but know these are growing pains and I really just need a lot of guidance and support right now.

    I came here to be a song writer and”make it” and it seems like such an illusion when I feel this bad.

    What are you doing with music and how did you overcome this??

    Thank you

  • Dana Marie June 20, 2017

    Hi Andrew! Wow, thank you so much for your comment and being so honest! I truly appreciate it. I totally understand the feeling of not wanting to be in the bar scene anymore. If you’re even the slightest bit sensitive, it can wreak havoc on your heart. I also felt the same way — if God gave me this gift, am I using it the way He intended it? I believe that we are called to go intot he lonliest and saddest of places in order to reach His children, so I don’t think that any of it is wasted!! So be encouraged in that – His light cuts through the darkness! But, I also believe that He wants you to be encouraged and poured into, as well. That’s why I’ve stopped doing the bar scene and am starting to get booked at more wholesome venues, like churches and for youth events. Please be encouraged that you are not alone, He is with you! He will show you where He wants you to go. Make sure to get plugged into a good church, this made ALL of the difference for me! In Nashville, The Belonging is a really wonderful place :) Love, Dana Marie

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