I Sing Because I’m Free


Who taught the sun where to stand in the morning?
And who told the ocean you can only come this far?
And who showed the moon where to hide ’til evening?
Whose words alone can catch a falling star?

Well, I know my Redeemer lives
I know my Redeemer lives
All of creation testifies
This life within me cries
I know my Redeemer lives
Redeemer, Nicole C Mullen)

If you know me in person, you’ve heard me burst out in song. This has been a habit for a while, and if it annoys you, I sincerely apologize. Before you go however, let me explain.

First, it used to be worse. My family can attest that I used to randomly clap… really loudly at really annoying times. It was a habit formed from my marching band days, when I would hear the drummers hit their marching snare drums very loudly at random inappropriate times while walking to/from the classroom and practice field. Sometimes they’d even do this inside stairwells where it echoed. Since that day, nothing has quite matched piercing loudness of those snare hits. It was so uncomfortably loud that it hurt my ears every time they would do it, but at the same time, there’s nostalgia attached to that memory. So, sometimes over the next couple of years my pseudo-ADD would kick in and I would revisit those memories trying to share again in the feeling of excitement and camaraderie that I used to feel. Alternatively, maybe it was my subconscious expression of the feeling that I just wasn’t getting enough attention at the moment. Personality quirks like this often form when you grow up with older brothers and you feel like you’re never heard.

When I’m feeling melancholy, I remember specific moments from my past.

I think about the financial hardships my family experienced as I was growing up. In my teens, people thought I was a little weird because I was triple isolated: I had a quirky sensitive personality, general nerdy interests, and conservative Christian beliefs. I had a lot of unpleasant experiences with people, experiences most people have growing up in some variation. However, I had a constant companion in Jesus Christ. He comforted me in lonely times; I knew that I was and am truly special to Him.

Going through Air Force Basic Military Training was a very unpleasant experience for me. I was used to doing most things well, as well as being a natural leader. In BMT, I could do nothing right. If you haven’t been through this experience, you cannot grasp the insane emphasis on perfection that goes in to incredibly stupid and useless tasks, like towel folding. Basic Training can be thought of as mental asylum for those with obsessive compulsive disorder and the bipolar disorder run by the patients. I made some silly mistakes that resulted in me feeling that every person in the flight despised me and had turned their backs on me. When felt like the biggest loser ever, my flightmates verbally kicked me some more when I was down.  I was sleep deprived every night; somehow I got picked to do a two-hour entry control shift about every night, and got four hours of sleep instead of the expected six. Sometimes, on these entry control shifts, I would softly sing old church songs when I was sure no one could hear me. When I patrolled through the empty bathroom, I’d pray quietly. I was a chapel monitor and was able to spend most of the day in the base chapel, which was almost like being at church. The beautiful thing about going through that basic training experience, besides graduating and never having to go through it again, is looking back and realizing how close I felt to God. I could sense Him manipulating events for my benefit. There was no one else there by my side, but He was faithful to me.

There’s no one, there’s no one like Jesus
There’s no one, there’s no one like Jesus
Who would die for me, just to set this sinner free?
There’s no one like Jesus!

I feel the togetherness of the congregation and the reverent awe that we collectively felt in our hearts as the Holy Ghost swept through the room in a little Pentecostal church in Mishawaka, Indiana (where a pretty awesome gun store now sits). The songs they played and we sang were simple but moving.

When I walk through the woods and experience the simple tranquility of nature, I think about the birds. I think about how birds sit on tree branches with no cares at all squeaking out simple songs. The Bible says the God notices when even a sparrow falls. God watches over me, giving me the freedom to be me.

When I stand in my room alone silently, or when praying, songs fill my heart and demand to be released. As I sing, it’s awesome to feel how God’s presence surrounds me. I imagine how Adam must have felt in the garden just hanging out with the Creator before the wall of sin was erected.

I sing because I’m happy, I sing because I’m free,
For His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me.

(His Eye is on the Sparrow, C. D. Martin)


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