Eighteen months or so ago, Shannan Miller felt despair like she’d never known. Today, the singer-songwriter says she’s grateful for the experience.
Saturday night, she’ll share her story at a Night of Worship at Royal Oak Presbyterian Church. Those who attend will hear the music that stemmed from her journey through the pain and helped her heal. She hopes the 7 p.m. event will help others who are experiencing such pain.
Miller told the News & Messenger, “Only by the grace and strength of God may I now say that I am grateful for that valley. I never would have chosen it, but God changed who I was and who I am through it. The songs have given me an avenue to share with hurting people, encourage them where they are, and share the deep hope and love that I found.”
Miller grew up attending church and can’t remember a time when she didn’t know of God. Her decision to commit her life to Christ came early. She made that commitment at 12.
She also can’t remember a time in her life when music wasn’t part of her. She studied classical piano for eight years as a child. Then, a time came when she had to choose between her piano lessons and sports.
Sports won, temporarily. Yet, Miller said, she never stopped playing the piano. “Music has always been my escape from the world.”
Later, she would learn to play by ear, which broadened her repertoire. “I didn’t have to have sheet music for every song,” she declared.
Her music and faith always went hand in hand. She grew up singing in the choir and doing special music at church. In high school, she served as a church pianist on several occasions. Then, she accepted a post as a worship leader and “grew into a calling where I felt like I had been equipped to serve.”
More recently, it was when she would go on to step away from a worship leadership position that Miller descended into a spiritual valley. “The hurt I experienced was overwhelming,” she said. In that time of feeling weak and vulnerable, Miller said, “I believe that the Enemy also used that time to highlight my own insecurities.”
Miller turned to music.
“I used other worship songs and scripture to pray through and be reminded of God’s truth and what He spoke over me… then I began writing music to process the situation through my own words of prayer and to craft songs to remind me of the truth that God says about me. In the same token, to sing against the Enemy’s lies with that same truth!”
When she shared her songs with friends, they encouraged her to share the music “to help others who were broken…. I told God that as He made another place for my feet, I would continue to take steps ahead, trusting that the hope in the songs would be salve for others’ wounds.”
Those songs became Miller’s first CD. She’s humbled by the response. “What a privilege to hear that God has used me to breathe hope and healing into aching bones and broken hearts.”
In January, she performed a CD release concert. Beforehand, she offered A.W. Tozer’s prayer to God. It’s a prayer she often prays over her work. It says in part, "O God, be thou exalted over my possessions. Nothing of earth's treasures shall seem dear unto me if only Thou art glorified in my life. Be Thou exalted over my friendships. I am determined that Thou shalt be above all, though I must stand deserted and alone in the midst of the earth…. Make me ambitious to please Thee even if as a result I must sink into obscurity and my name be forgotten as a dream. Rise, O Lord, into Thy proper place of honor, above my ambitions, above my likes and dislikes, above my family, my health and even my life itself. Let me decrease that Thou mayest increase, let me sink that Thou mayest rise above."
This Saturday night in Marion, Miller “will share my story of being in a valley, how God was my sustenance there -- and still is, of course. As well, I will share music from my first single, ‘Build Me Up Again’ and from my CD ‘Pressed, But Not Crushed,’ as well as other of my songs that aren’t officially recorded…. We all have a time in our lives when we have been in the valley. I’ve often heard it said that you have either been through a valley, are currently in a valley, or are getting ready to be in a valley. My desire is to offer hope in times of trouble, hope that can only come through the grace and peace of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, and the comfort that can only come through the Holy Spirit.”
When she comes to Royal Oak, she’ll be joining family. Her husband, Brian, grew up attending the church and his parents and other family members continue to worship there.
She and Brian are the parents of three children.
The Rev. Alan Gray, Royal Oak’s pastor, heard Miller perform a concert in Bristol earlier this year. He said, “She did a great job of fostering a sense of worship.” Her stories of each song’s background, he said, “drew the audience in.”
The Main Street church is pre-selling CDs for $10 each. Miller’s music can also be found on iTunes.
Night of Worship will feature an intermission with refreshments.
To learn more about Miller, visit www.shannanmillermusic.com