amy courts: en route

I Dwell Elsewhere
April 6, 2010, 12:09 pm
Filed under: Faith and Faith Life, Home Life, Music

I am a dweller. I am a pessimist. Put them together and you’ll find me dwelling in negativity.

Positive things – small successes, major or minor accomplishments, daily moments of bliss or wonder – are all enjoyed momentarily, but nearly always lead to some kind of fear or worry or tension regarding what’s to come or what has been.


Five Year Old Amy: “I’m saved! Jesus saved me! But…what happens when I sin again? Will I lose it? How can I be perfect? What’s gonna happen when I’m not perfect? What about the little sins I can’t remember? What about when my sister is a jerk and really deserves the bite? And what if I die at that moment? Will the salvation hold?”

Thirteen- to Sixteen-Year-Old Amy: “I go the part/solo in the song/play/concert! But…what if I can’t remember my part? What if I screw it up? What if I forget everything? What if I do really really really well, but no one cares and I never get a part again? What if this is the best I’ll ever get?”

Sixteen-Year-Old-Dating-Amy: “Well, he’s a nice guy. I like him a lot. I think I even love him. I think I want to marry him. And yeah. He’s kind of a jerk. He kind of uses me. Some might say he abuses me. But what if I can’t do any better? And surely being *with* him is better than being alone, right?”

Post-Graduation-College-Amy: “I GRADUATED COLLEGE!! I did it! I accomplished this MAJOR HUGE THING! I have my degree in theology!!! ….But what the heck am I gonna do with this degree? How can it get me a job? How will I pay rent? And what if I have it all wrong anyway? What if I’m a big fraud?”

Musician-Amy: “So I wrote this really amazing, powerful song. It is everything I wanted to say, exactly how I wanted to say it. And the melody is the best I have to offer. And so many people love it and are moved by it. This is wonderful! But…what if it’s the best I’ll ever do? What if this is the height of my success? What if I never write another good song? And what’s everyone going to think about me then?” Or “So I’m on this really amazing tour…somehow, some way, Jennifer Knapp – my ultimate hero – heard me, saw me, liked me, and asked me to join her on tour. And with Derek Webb, my other musical hero, no less! But what happens when it’s over? Where will I go? What will I do? Will anyone care? Will it matter?”

Running-Amy: “I ran a sub-2:00:00 half marathon! AHHHH!! But what if I can’t beat that? What if my next time is worse? And what about all these injuries? Will I ever actually run that marathon I’ve already told everyone I’m going to run? And if I don’t, will they say I’m all talk? What if it’s because I’m in too much pain? Will they think I’m a wuss? And what about all those people who say ALL humans can run and are made to run incredible distances? Why can’t I?”

Married-Amy: “Paul married me and loves me…but what about ten years from now, when childbirth has left me stretchy and gross, when I’ve ‘let myself go,’ when the mystery is gone and I’m aging daily? Will he still love me? What can I do to prevent time from doing anything to me? I don’t want surgery…because I want him to love me for me…but what if Me isn’t good enough anymore?”
It’s rather sad. But this is my thought process. My thought pattern.

But I’m learning to change. I have to, because the negativity is taking its toll not just on my mind and spirit and attitude, but on my body now too. Tension is sitting itself in muscles and ligaments, screaming at me to do something different. And it’s not the kind of tension a pill or a stretch or a run or a doctor can do anything to fix.

It’s in me. It’s in my mind.

This is, as it were, my turn to “Take every thought captive and commit it to the Lord.”

I really do believe that mental and emotional stress wreak havoc on the body. I’ve known it since I was 16, when my stubborn refusal to break up with a boyfriend – despite how utterly wrong I KNEW the relationship was – led to literal sickness. I was nauseated and had cold symptoms for a week. I took medicine, rested, cried, worried, etc. And then, I broke up with him. And I was immediately well.

I do it now too. I dwell on what’s wrong, not on what’s right, RIGHT NOW. I dwell on what if’s, on what’s next, on whether or not I can make it happen. As if I’ve made anything good in my life happen yet.

I’m merely a recipient of God’s good grace, His unfathomable treasures. And instead of enjoying them right now, dwelling in the moment, being here now, I choose so often to worry about whether or not this is the last good He’ll lavish on me, and on what I need to do to earn more. As if I earned it to begin with.

No no.

So I’m learning to dwell in the Now. To enjoy the present. To capture wandering thoughts and teach them where to land.

I’m learning, as Jesus taught, to let tomorrow worry about itself, to concentrate on today’s work. Which is simply giving the best of myself to every thought and action, every circumstance and conversation. It is capturing negative thoughts, appreciating them for what they are – markers of a truly Type A personality, markers of perfectionism and competitiveness, which have their place and serve some good purpose if not taken to extremes – and choosing not to dwell in them, but in Today. Because it’s all I have, according to Proverbs 27.

On a side note, Ray LaMontagne is helping me with “Be Here Now”:

Don’t let your mind get weary and confused
Your will be still, don’t try
Don’t let your heart get heavy child
Inside you there’s a strength that lies

Don’t let your soul get lonely child
It’s only time, it will go by
Don’t look for love in faces, places
It’s in you, that’s where you’ll find kindness

Be here now, here now
Be here now, here now

Don’t lose your faith in me
And I will try not to lose faith in you
Don’t put your trust in walls
‘Cause walls will only crush you when they fall

Be here now, here now
Be here now, here now


4 Comments so far
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I do that sort of thing a lot, too. I’m a Red Sox fan… I’m always aware of the worst that can happen, lol.

But I can assure you of one thing… when the tour is over, you will not be forgotten. Your music will not be forgotten. You have touched many of us with your words and songs, and me personally, by taking the time to respond to a couple of emails, not to mention sending me the download to your EP when I whined about waiting for it to come in the mail 🙂

You have at least one fan, and hopefully friend, for life. God bless!

Comment by turnips

Girl, I feel ya. I could almost mirror the 5 year old, 13 year old, 16 year old, graduated college, now ….

progression. You might as well have said “Megan” 5 years old… “I accept Jesus. Oh no, now I have to watch my

every step! I better not do anything bad…’or else’.” 13 year old Megan… “Well they asked me to play piano in

the youth group band, is this all there is? Will I just grow up to be a ‘door-mat’ type minister’s wife who plays

piano for the hymns sung on Sunday morning? That’s what my parents wish for me, but…there’s got to be something

more…” 16 year old Megan (this is where you and I diverge, by the way 🙂 )… “I haven’t dated or even ‘gone

out’ with any boys…I know I ‘should’ like boys, but I don’t. What’s wrong with me? God really isn’t going to

like this, because my parents and my pastor and my friends told me so. I’ll just ignore my feelings and be a

better ‘Christian’…that’ll fix it.” After-graduation-college Megan “Great, I have a degree! Now I’m going to

work for ‘the man’ and do things that don’t bring me joy because I have to pay bills instead of working to feel

like I am working for a higher purpose. Even though I am working for the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, I

don’t feel I am achieving that feeling of ‘working for a higher purpose’. Plus, I still don’t like boys. I still

haven’t dated… at all. God isn’t going to like that, I just know it. Even Billy Graham says so. I better hide

out and not show my true self.”

But then something happened… I let go. I let go of all the bullsh*t and fear-driven lies that I was taught

growing up. I broke free of my past and I accepted that God made me to be who I am, and I am gay. For me to deny

myself of that is to dishonor God, because he made me this way. He made me in His image. I am not afraid to be

me, and the only reason I have that courage and that freedom is because I let go of that need to get it “right”,

to get it “perfect”. And I am so grateful that I could let go at least in that one area, because if I didn’t, I’d

be a miserable person right now. Because I’d be living a lie.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I am still in a constant state of anxiety over imperfection. I suppose some of my

upbringing stays with me. Actually, if you ask my partner Ginny (who knows me the best), she’d say that A LOT of

my upbringing stays with me. She knows how much I struggle with accepting my imperfection every day. She also

knows how much I struggle with defining God, since my view of him was so tainted by a hurtful upbringing. I know

the old saying that suggests that we should not let our experience with ‘christians’ define our view of God. But

let me know when someone figures out how to erase memories and emotions from the past, and then I’ll say that I

can honestly separate the two.

At this point in my life, I don’t need to define God. I’ve tried to define him for so long in my life and it

hasn’t done me any bit of good. So instead, I accept that there is a God… or some sort of supernatural being, or

supernatural dimension, in the world today. But I sure as hell don’t claim to define it, understand it, or have

the capability to tell others how they should view it.

But that need to “get it right” has bled over to every other pore in my body. Talk about feeling stress in your

body. Girl, I feel ya. I used to be able to run a few miles to get the stress out of my system. It was easy then.

But when I come home after working an intense job, I have no energy to put into running or exericse in general,

much less finding productive ways to relieve myself of stress. So, it stays in my body. And it sits in my body

long enough to fester and boil to the point of physical damage. At least that’s how my older relatives did it.

Heart disease runs RAMPANT in my family line. Why? Because we let the stress sit, but it doesn’t just sit… it

hides out until it is so powerfully damaging that there’s no reversing it.

But anyway that’s all I’ll ramble about this time. I just wanted to respond to your blog because I was so struck

by the similarities that I share with your story. And I must say, as timid as I am to share this sort of thing as

a comment to your blog due to the intense personal details, I have to commend you for opening up your heart and

your life to complete strangers – not only on the internet blog – but on stage and in your music. I’m glad that

you open up to the world with honesty… it shows in your lyrics and your performance. I look forward to seeing

you again soon. Take care, -Megan

Comment by Megan G

ahhh! sorry for the crazy spacing and basically taking over your blog page 🙂 that’s what I get for trying to copy & paste from Notepad. -Meg

Comment by Megan G

Thank you for saying so well what so many of us experience. You have diagnosed the problem – the battleground is the mind. A lot of folks don’t know that they have a choice what thoughts they will entertain, what thoughts they will keep, and what thoughts they can send packing, no matter how many times they return. Your honesty is delightful and your insights are clear. Also, thanks for the Easter hug! Much love, many blessings – gm

Comment by Gwen

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