BETWEEN THE LINER NOTES
Margaret Becker Airs Her Thoughts
By Laura J. Bagby
CBN.com Sr. Producer
After four Grammy nods and 20 number-one radio hits, this four-time Dove Award winning recording artist who had spent her musical career under EMI’s Sparrow Records label realized it was time to take a break – a discovery that came after she woke up in a hotel room in 1995 not knowing where she was with no memory of any recent vacation.
So Margaret Becker, then in her mid-30s, cleared her schedule and spent a winter month alone in Destin, Florida, to rediscover who she was and what God had called her to be and to do.
“I had just had enough of activity,” the self-professed former people pleaser told me recently in Denver, Colorado, where she was promoting her latest book, Coming Up for Air (NavPress, 2006). “If you are in music and you are touring, you are like meeting your mother-in-law every day of your life for the first time, 220 dates a year. It was just a lot of prepping and having to do everything perfectly.” After years at this frenetic pace, Becker said she just needed time to breathe.
Looking at Becker sitting next to me in her ball cap and casual black dress topped by a jeans shirt, I couldn’t imagine her being anything other than the laid-back, very much at peace, shoot-the-breeze type person that she was that day. And that’s probably a testament to the great work God has done in her soul these past 11 years.
Because, as she told me about her month of forcing herself to sit around and do nothing other than enjoy the Florida sunrise and the sunset, “It’s so hard. You would be surprised. You think that you would crave a weekend where you do nothing. The first four or five days, it was excruciating. I forgot how to do nothing. I forgot how to slow down. And it was really a shake-up for me.”
While learning to observe the quieter moments of life, Becker also felt compelled to funnel her thoughts onto paper. She prayerfully wrote her 10-year, 20-year, even 30- and 40-year plans for her life. This assignment - written free-form in crayon –helped Becker not only discover her areas of weakness, but also completely shift her focus, both her personal pursuits and her career endeavors.
For one thing, Becker quickly learned that she lacked quality community and needed more intimate friendships. That was a real eye-opener for this musician who lived on a bus with 12 men while on tour and so always had her need for male companionship met. “It was shocking because all I want to do when I get off the road is get away from people,” she related.
But as Becker dug deeper into the recesses of her heart, she suddenly realized the harsh reality of her situation.
“I have all these people who have been trying to press in to know me and to actually be a support to me in a real way,” she told me, “but I keep pushing them aside because it’s like, well, it’s not the husband and it’s not the time and I can’t get too tied up because who knows what’s going to happen. And it hit me: Margaret, you are halfway through your life. You had better start digging some holes and planting some seeds in these areas.”
Another red-flag area for Becker was her finances, and that too came as a complete surprise after some analysis.
“I thought I was doing well, but then I started to do the math, and I realized I am sucking wind here. This is very bad. It made me a lot more aggressive in that area, which I am so thankful for now because I have exceeded that goal.”
Beyond a love for music, Becker also recognized she had a burning passion for disadvantaged children, which is why she worked tirelessly with humanitarian organizations like World Vision. Beyond her wildest dreams, Becker never thought that within a 10-year time span she would have helped 500,000 children survive, but this was one goal she wrote down that month in Destin. Then two years ago while in Belgium to accept a humanitarian award, that dream became reality. Becker told me, “I was out-of-my-mind happy because it was one of those moments in life where you go, That was only a number that I knew.”
It was during her month-long period of respite that Becker concluded that making records wasn’t the only thing she was called to do, so she met with Sparrow Records to tell them that she was leaving.
Said Becker, “It was such a luxury to have a really healthy relationship with the company that empowered me to be able to walk in there and thank them after my second contract was up. Everybody was surprised. I was surprised.”
Despite her lack of a firm future plan, Becker discovered an inner peace. “There was a real confidence for me knowing that I don’t know what is next, but I know that my identity is not caught up in this. I am a person, I am Christ’s beloved, and that’s my identity. If God gives me a guitar and strings to do that once every two years, if once a year a record comes out, it is fine. But it has to be by Him, and I can’t really stake my claim,” she said.
I asked Becker specifically what she thought would have happened had she not taken time off, and she told me, “I think I would have continued riding out my music as far as it would go. These things have a way of coming to an end. It’s rare for somebody to be around forever, so probably at some point that would have taken a left turn on me and then I wouldn’t have been prepared for what was next.”
Hindsight is 20/20, as they say. And even though Becker pressed forward at the nudging of the Holy Spirit, there were still moments of unrest.
“There were excruciatingly scary times in the middle of it all, because you have to let go of the one thing to get the other,” she said. “There was no guarantee that I was making the right decision. I had to follow the unique way that God communicates with me, which is He makes me uncomfortable, and then He makes me very uncomfortable, and then He makes me excruciatingly uncomfortable. Then I know, OK, maybe I should move on now.”
Now a successful musician, humanitarian, speaker, and author, Becker takes a more laid-back approach to her music. “My records still come,” she said, “but they come at a lot more leisurely pace, as they serve the overall theme of what’s going on in my life, instead of fitting a niche.”
Becker isn’t the same stressed-out person today that she once was, though she still has her hands in a lot of pies. That’s because she has found the secret to remaining grounded.
“I am busier than I have ever been, but it’s in a very disciplined time and it’s in a very directed manner, and all the activities are birthed from me understanding that God created me to encourage and empower people,” she said. “You would be amazed how much you can get done when you are in that frictionless environment when purpose actually meets your conscious mind and you are able to move forward with those two things in tandem.”
What’s next for this artist extraordinaire? Becker said she is working on an album called Air that will coincide with her book, and she is working on a book tentatively called Whole-Life Worshippers that will detail the lives of those who are living out worship in their everyday lives in unusual ways.
“God is amazing,” Becker summed up. “If you are faithful to keep the feet moving, keep opening doors, He will show you the small things and the big things. It’s amazing how He has come through for me in these areas where something opens up and I just walk through the door.”
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