Let me start off by telling you, I, like many other little boys and girls, had extravagant dreams of my future calling when I was little. I was going to be known throughout the nations; Johnna Nichelle, a famous singer… and actress, and model. I wanted to connect with anyone and everyone through my words, and through my music. I wrote songs, poetry, choreographed dances and skits, enrolled in drama summer camps, you name it. My best friend was my “manager”, another my choreographer and my mom was my video director. I was on my way.
Fast forward to reality. I gave up on the modeling thing when I stopped growing in the 8th grade (all 5’ 2” of me) and acting…. Well, lets just say acting wasn’t exactly the “ideal” career choice to set up a solid future, or at least I was told at the time. My love for singing never faded, but somehow, over the years, my voice did. I was terrified to sing in front of anyone, and the only way you’d ever get me to is if I had a friend by my side for backup (you know, in case my vocal chords completely failed me on stage and I passed out and crumbled to the floor in a million tiny shameful pieces… #TheDRAMA). My friends and family knew I loved to sing, but if I wasn’t in the car, or the shower… forget it.
I went on to go college (Go Noles!), and I toyed around singing and playing the keyboard, recording little covers from time to time. But as far as fully pursuing it, I was out. As I grew in my faith and God did some serious work in my heart during this time, I knew the calling on my life for music and connecting with people wasn’t a childhood phase… it had just been hidden and overtaken by insecurities and doubts. I graduated three years later with a degree in Psychology (the yearning to deeply connect and understand humans never left) and began to work in a completely unrelated field (Where are my millenials at?!). I stopped playing the keyboard and singing altogether, and I immersed myself into the corporate world. I knew that God was calling me for more, and I sang worship songs all day long to myself in my office, figuring it would never be more than that. I mean come on, I was adulting now (yeah right).
After almost two years of this, I felt the pull of the Lord on my heart like never before. It started to make me question everything about my life, where I was, where I was going, the relationships I was in, and who I was meant to become. I went to my usual Wednesday night church service one evening, where our young adult pastor happened to be filling in, and he just happened to be teaching a sermon on the process of pursuing your calling (like, ok God, I hear ya). “God will allow you to become so uncomfortable in your situation, until you have no choice but to move”, he said, and it wrecked me. I was there. Two weeks later I got a phone call from my dad, who said he’d been praying for me, and wasn’t sure why he felt the need to tell me, but a position had opened up at his company in Texas in case I was looking. I wasn’t, but as I prayed on it, I felt God speak very clearly, telling me to go. I was done running. So, just like that, I put in my two weeks at the company, packed my car, and hit the road for Texas, where I live now. I ignored my doubts, let go of some toxic relationships, and looked ahead, wondering what I was getting myself into. Talk about stepping out in faith.
My very first week at work, a coworker heard me humming along to my usual worship music, and asked if I was a singer, to which I replied “Nope. I like to sing, but its not serious or anything”. We chatted a little more about our faith, and he invited me to come check out his church’s youth service, where he played guitar. After the service, he invited me to go eat with the worship team, where he announced, “You guys, Johnna sings too” and another chimed in, “You know, we’re looking for a new female lead, if you haven’t already gotten plugged in somewhere”. Before I knew it, I was at rehearsal, SHAKING to my core, wondering how on earth this was happening. I was NOT a “real” singer, let alone worship leader!
I’ll never forget the first service. Thankfully, the song I lead was one I had belted in the car a thousand times (isn’t it funny how God prepares you when you don’t even know it?), and after my near nervous breakdown, I finally felt confirmation, and a wave of peace. THIS is what I was called to do. It wasn’t about using my gift for myself, it was about using my God given talents to magnify Him and lead others into His presence. It wasn’t about making my name known throughout the nations, it was about making HIS name known. In fact, it wasn’t about me at all.
I know that you may be in a place where you’re questioning yourself, your future, your dreams, and how it all ties together. Maybe you’re like me, and you wrote off those “childish” aspirations some time ago, in search for something more realistic. Maybe you’re convinced that the passions in your heart will never be more than a hobby. I’m here to tell you, there is NO dream too big for your God. I mean it. One of the things that I love about children is the fact that they understand this, while many of us seem to forget as we grow older and buckle under the weight of societal pressures. But for that dream to come to fruition, you have to be willing to feel uncomfortable, isolated at times, and sometimes even rejected. You have to get out of your own way, get before God, and listen. Don’t get too busy to hear His voice. And don’t think just because you’re a certain age, its all of a sudden too late. You have an assignment on this earth. The time is now. Get busy.