Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Featured Interview: ToriesTORIEs

Tori Harris

From your heavenly throne be the Master of my soul / For all that I am, Lord / Take me as your own.  These gorgeous lyrics were composed by none other than Tori Harris, a sweet soul, modern apostle and music missionary.  Tori keeps a blog on her website, called ToriesTORIEs, where she recounts all that God is doing in her life.  I met Tori on Twitter (so many wonderful interactions can come from that site!), and she offered to interview with The Identity Project.  Here is Tori's heart.

Tell us a bit of your story.

I've always wanted to be a writer and a songwriter, but I didn't always acknowledge the desire.

Growing up, there was never another dream, I wanted to sing and write music. Things changed when, while at college, I had a very respected music professor tell me, "Torie, I think you're good, but you're not great, and to be honest, I don't think there is greatness within you. If I can convince you to give up this dream, I think I can help save you years of heartache from struggle and failure."

His words crushed me, but trusting that he had my best interest at heart, I thought the prudent and humble thing to do would be to give up the dream and find another path.

After graduating, not knowing what to do, I took an administrative job at a local record label but after 6 months, the company was doing so poorly that I had to find a new job. Then I took another job as a press assistant for another label and joined the cubicle/corporate world. Nothing really made sense, life felt like it had no purpose. I didnt know who I was or what I wanted or who I wanted to be. Desperate for peace, I started waking up at 6:30 every morning and I'd drive to the Church and pray before work. Every day. 

Around June of 2011 I began to meet with my spiritual director every Wednesday for one hour and we would pray together.  The more time I spent in prayer, the more certain I was that I was not pursuing God's will. But what did He want. Everytime I asked, music came up, and everytime I pushed it back and said, "no, because I'm not good at that" or "no, you'd never make it" and I kept praying.

In January 2012, after 8 months of this, I was exhausted. At my next holy hour, I fell asleep. And that's when things began to change. I had a dream of a man who said, "If you desire to know what is most sacred in this world you have only to look towards what is most profaned."

Something clicked, and I felt the Holy Spirit say to me, "Apply this to yourself".

You see, the devil attacks things in order of their sacredness. The things that are the most holy will be attacked first and with the most intensity. And what is most holy and sacred about ourselves but God's will for our lives. (because what is holiness but the degree of one's docility to the Holy Spirit or will of God)

So I made a list of my profanities- my confusion, anxiety, doubts and fears. Then, i wrote a harder list, a list of my hearts most secret and tender desires. When I compared the lists, i was shocked. They were perfect mirrors of each other. For every deep, tender and secret desire of my heart, there was a greater fear or anxiety preventing me from pursuing my heart. And in a moment, I knew God's will for my life. He wants me to write music. He wants me to sing. He was never asking me to be a great songwriter or a sucessful singer. He was only asking me to be faithful to His call. 

So, in faith, I quit my job at the record label and emptied by savings account to record 1 song. I started waiting tables, I had no money, no plan, and, yet I had never felt more free. 

About 40 days after quiting my job, some guests at my restraunt paid for me to attend a workshop. At the workshop I ended up being introduced to the publisher behind Michael W Smith and Amy Grant. He took a listen to that 1 song and was so moved by it that he invited me to his office in downtown Nashville and began talking about publishing and artist development deals. 

A few weeks later, was offered a co-publishing deal with one of the world's largest Christian music publishers and opportunities to write music with some of the most talented writers in the industry. It's been such a whirlwind of grace. and that brings us to today. 

What passage(s) in Scripture is currently influencing your walk with the Lord?

For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11Matthew 6:25-34

25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes?26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life[a]?
28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith?31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

Has your identity struggled as a result of the music business?  How has God told you that you are His?

The struggle happens whenever I allow the music to be my identity. In allowing the desolation and the brokenness, God has taught me that my gifts are not my own. All good things come from Him as an extension of His great love and generosity. My voice and body, in all its qualities, is His creation, formed according to His pleasure. I have no control over my own creativity. I don't know where the next song or lyric will come from - they come as He permits. I am completely at the mercy and pleasure of God - it's when I forget this truth that I struggle most.

Jesus is everything.  I am nothing.  

Tori, thank you so much for taking the time to share your life and gifts with us!  We cannot wait to see what God will continue to work out in your faith walk, career path, and missionary journey.  

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