We were never designed to be alone.
In the last 3 months I’ve learned much about what it means to be a body as opposed to thinking that the nose and the nose alone could manage. Head knowledge is very different than heart knowledge. But both are necessary. I think and acknowledge my introverted nature, but my heart desires extroversion. Both the head and the heart have much to gain from listening to one another. I wanted to unpack my short and new journey here in Winston-Salem the last 3 months and how I managed to make the aforementioned discoveries. I believe honesty to be central in finding common threads, so I will start there.
I got married in December. It was without question one of the happiest moments in my life. That day was a culmination of nearly 4 years of friendship, roots going deeper, trust going further, attraction going…all of the directions. I don’t know how to explain it other than everything progressing towards oneness. The day went by just as fast as every married couple said it would, we honeymooned in the Dominican Republic for a week, hit Nashville for New Years, and then it was planting new roots in Winston-Salem, NC for the next season.
Truthfully, I have come to enjoy change and at this point in my life I was craving it. It was so hard leaving behind family and friends and the comfort that came from that place of becoming myself for the past 29 years. I could feel the change standing just beyond the calendar date and I was filled with optimism at the thought of a new start with my wife. I had saved up some money and with anticipated freelance musical work, I figured I’d be able to hack it and continue the pursuit of being a full time musician once we set up shop out here in Winston.
January passed by quickly; I tried out for The Voice and didn’t make it past the first round, and with February came the start of my slow unraveling. I spent all day every day in front of my computer with instruments 270 degrees around me (360 if you count the 1900’s pump organ behind me), and I was losing my mind. Everything I created I began to question. I love my wife to death and beyond, but she is my biggest fan so even her kind words of affirmation were becoming thin and weightless in my hands. I was sizing up everything I did, every lyric I wrote, every track I mixed – I would throw on a Taylor Swift song and play the comparison game between my production level and hers, ultimately to hit control-S (save) on my project and shut it down in disappointment. With each day came praying for stability in financials, asking God to open the doors and show me the next step – my prayers were to reach people with the music I created and make a living doing it. I so badly wanted to tour the country and like Tupac asked for God’s hand to be on my brain while I wrote. What I experienced was writer’s block, a lull in freelance work, dwindling funds, and spiraling self-degradation and doubt. I think I cried a lot in the month of February. Tears of frustration, anger, confusion, and straight up sadness. Many nights came with the same thought: “I’m almost 30 and still don’t have a clue where all of this is going.” I laid awake at night asking God, “why wont you just make it happen? I’m trying as hard as I can here, what am I missing? If this is not my path, then take my passion for it please, because all I feel is failure.”
I was in my own personal Garden of Gethsemane, pleading for God to either give me my hearts desire, or take it away entirely – anything to be delivered from the feeling of hanging somewhere in the crevice between.
In mid-February, my wife and I were talking over dinner and I dragged her aboard my negative train of thought (this happened a lot). Morgan suggested that getting a job would mean getting into community and could be a really great thing at this point. I had submitted a few resumes and we began to pray about it; for both of us to have the courage (we are homebodies and needed it) to get out and immerse ourselves into this city in the hopes that we’d align with like-minded and down to earth people to share the day-to-day time and grow with.
We started with church. For a few weeks we attended Elevation Church and I had plans to get into the worship leading rotation. One Saturday evening, I was grabbing confirmation from Morgan about going to church the next morning and she just said, “Hey maybe we could try going to Awake Church tomorrow…I have a feeling you’d really like it.” So we did. And she was right. I was floored. The worship was a beautifully honest, free flowing, hour-long confession and proclamation. These singers were spontaneously singing what came to them, and the pastor did the same when he began to preach. It felt so authentic, and I knew I had to talk with the worship leader after. This is something I would not have done even a year prior but we had made a commitment to stepping out and making those connections for the sake of community. I hit it off immediately with the worship director, and within 2 weeks, Morgan and I were asked to travel to Wilmington, NC to help lead worship and spend some time with the musicians and their spouses
Upon returning from Wilmington, I received a post interview call from Camino Bakery saying they’d like hire me. Each workday I came in for, dating back to day one, was filled with rich depth in conversation. I found all of them to be artist by design with the same hill to climb as I. We are all trying to figure it out. With every conversation I felt a space being filled with color. And then I connected the dots – clear back to a professors words in the wake of my youngest sister’s suicide, “Life is a struggle; but a struggle best had together.”
I realized that what I wanted was a title and to feel adequate. What I NEEDED was community – a body of people to experience this next chapter in Winston-Salem with. When Jesus said the church is the hope of the world, I don’t think he meant a building of believers in a vacuum. I think he was talking about strength in numbers, looking past man- and mind-made walls, collaborating to find meaning and truth and beauty in the short time we have. Together.
Check out more from Bryan and some of his music at https://www.iamcompanyon.com/