From Unworthy to Unworthy


So, I’ve been in Nashville doing the whole “music thing” for awhile now. Almost 8 years, to be exact. I’ve dipped my toes in many different waters, I’ve sampled a bunch of flavors (#Jenis), I’ve made a TON of errors, and have done a lot of things I’m proud of. But as hard as it is to explain, something always felt off.  I would be doing what I loved, but couldn’t QUITE get there mentally and emotionally. What I mean is, my heart was about 75% in, and I didn’t really know why.  I mostly attributed it to my Enneagram 4-ness, always daydreaming, comparing, spending too much time in make-believe worlds inside my head, wanting more. But what I really think it was now looking back, is that I hadn’t found what my soul loved. What I (insert dramatic pause) was made to do.  


It’s similar to my messy wanderings in my journey towards Ryan.  There were some great relationships and some not so great ones, but for whatever reason, my heart was never fully in. I blamed my skewed view of marriage, my fear of commitment blahblahblah, but I never realized what it was until I met Ryan.  It was that I hadn’t met Ryan lol. I hadn’t met the one my soul loved.  And it felt so different and wild and exhilarating and yet comforting and safe at the same time. It felt like home. 

To get all kinds of real (which is my favorite thing to do forever and always), I fought this off for a long time. I had always loved leading worship since college, but never thought that was what I wanted to do full time. And I definitely didn’t think I was capable of writing congregational worship songs. The pressure of that, of writing something that people would then say to God, before his throne, seemed so daunting and heavy and out of my comfort zone. But what it truly boiled down to was that I didn’t feel good enough. And I’m not even talking about musically, though that certainly came into play at times. It was that I didn’t feel worthy.  

“I’m not a good person.”

“No one would take me seriously or care what I had to say.”

“Oh that drama/conflict/mistake I made with that person? It’s too much. They’ll just think I’m some big fat hypocrite.”

“There are plenty of people that are better than me, and God would rather use them.”

If it isn’t insanely obvious by now, I was insecure lol. These feelings could be traced back to as early as my childhood and as recently as my years in Nashville. When I first moved here especially, I was this wild tornado of untapped emotion and relational error, leaving a path of chaos behind me wherever I went. I was blissfully unaware, until I started to glance back and see the collateral damage.  And as I kept finding myself in the same situations with the same kinds of people, I thought maybe the most consistent thing about all of it was me.  And that’s when I started going to counseling for the first time (insert praise hands and laughing and crying and endless hallelujahs). There I was able to finally start working through all of the mess described above, and it was the most freeing experience of my life. I happened to meet Ryan around this same time too, and he has helped shape and refine me like any good “opposites attract” type of relationship does.  This healing process (which I’m pretty sure is a life-long thing, tbh), has been so necessary and has helped teach me how to shift my eyes onto what it is I was made to do.  

I remember my first worship co-write.  I was so nervous and out of my element.  I remember praying simply that I wouldn’t look like a giant idiot lol. But it ended up being the most incredible, life-giving experience and it shocked me to my bones. I could sit in God’s presence, with fellow believers, talk about what we were going through, how we felt about God, what his Word said, and that could be a job?! INSANITY.  I remember crying in my car on the way home thinking “WHY HAVEN’T I BEEN DOING THIS MY WHOLE LIFE?!”

And whether it was the voice of God or just my own conscience, I heard the simple answer of “Because it wasn’t time.”  Naturally the immediate rebuttal in my mind was “Uhhhh what makes you think it is now?! Still a hot mess over here helloooo.” And honestly I still feel that way daily lol. But over the past year or so I’ve been gently reminded that God doesn’t require me to have it all together for him to use me for his kingdom and his purpose.  I know that seems like an obvious thing, but it wasn’t to me. Of course I was unworthy. I still am. But looking back to scripture, since when did God only decide to use perfect people who had all of their ducks in a row? It seems like he was looking more for willingness and humility. And less ducks. But man, did I need to learn a few lessons before I stepped into this season.  I needed to fall over a few times, needed to be uprooted and replanted.  From unworthy to unworthy.  And now I can be confident that He is enough to fill up and fortify those insecure bones of mine.

Shortly after said co-write, I was spending some time praying about what the heck I was supposed to do with my life. And I remember saying “Ok, God. If you want me to do worship, I will. You just let me know. No idea what I’m doing, but I mean…” Literally the next morning I got an email from my now mentor and dear friend, Carl Cartee, asking if I would be interested in doing the worship residency at Fellowship. He had remembered me from awhile back, and randomly felt like he should reach out and see if I would be interested. Little did he know how much of a huge slap-in-the-face sign that would be and how much that year would change me. The next day?!

OKAY. I’m in.

So, here is what I’m passionate about and what I want to get across in my personal ministry that I believe God has called me to:

I’m passionate about leading Gods people in worship,

about writing for his Church,

about solid theology and sticking to what the Bible says, even when its uncomfortable,

about mental health,

about understanding + balancing emotions (that God created, btw),

and about learning to lean heavily on the power of the Holy Spirit.

I say this so you know where I stand, but mostly I say it for accountability. Like wedding vows said in front of the people you love and trust, I want to be held to this. I want to be encouraged to stand by this. I want my songs to reflect this. And mostly, I want to talk to you about this. So let’s do it!!

(see what I did there? VOWS. Cuz I mentioned vows.)

(see what I did there? VOWS. Cuz I mentioned vows.)

In CoNcLuSioN, despite the growing pains and damages done, I’m truly grateful to be where I am. Sure, I can still be a jerk in my marriage. Sure, I can let my friends and family down sometimes. But I know that I was made to write for his Church, and I shouldn’t feel weird or embarrassed or ashamed to say something like that out loud.  So, you know, I won’t then. Most days. ;)

What do you feel made to do?

Shaylee O'Neill