My name is Rory Holbrook and this is a bit about me and how my life has been deeply impacted by Jesus. I began playing violin at the age of nine in a public school program and made it into college earning a music scholarship, primarily self taught. I played for all the wrong reasons and eventually quit, maybe playing a couple times a year casually. This is important because God had given me this amazing gift of music that I threw away, I killed it, buried it far away and worked to forget it. He had other plans for this gift and even though I didn’t deserve it the first or second time He gave it to me, it has become a very clear picture of the gospel in my life and I hope my story can help others see their gifts, whatever they are and be thankful to God for them and use them for His glory.
I grew up in the Bible belt going to church and developed a very relaxed attitude toward Jesus. I don’t remember not believing in Him. I went forward during an altar call and was saved. Then nothing, no growth, no fuzzy feeling, just life.
Years later after marrying my husband I recommitted my life to Jesus. We were not attending a church at the time nor would we for another seven years. I thought I could have Jesus without church, the Bible or prayer. There was a lot of pain and brokenness in my life and I sought to change anything I could about myself to fix my problems while passing the blame onto others. I changed a lot of things, including my first name, but I was still messed up.
We eventually moved to Oregon and established a reasonably happy life. Soon after, we became pregnant and agreed we wanted our baby raised in the church. So we went for the first time in years. Not for ourselves as we had it all “figured out” but for our child. God woke us up through the church we attended. I was baptized and feel that was the moment when God began moving in my life in a big way. Within a year my husband and I had read the Bible aloud together. I was deeply humbled as I began to see who God is, and grateful that I finally understood the truth.
I became very zealous for missionary work and resolved to sell my violin and go to Israel, within ten minutes the music minister at my church called and invited me to play on the church worship team. My husband had told her I played. I had removed myself so far from it that I never even spoke about it. I decided not to sell and began playing once more. Slowly at first, music is the place in my life where I harbored the most pain. I remember thinking to myself that I did not want to bring that into our church, I did not want to taint the happiness I had there.
I still had a lot to learn. Jesus wanted my worst, and in my case that meant being on stage worshipping Him Sunday morning!
The next few months were wonderful as I let music back into my life, seeing it now as the gift it is and has always been. During this time I began struggling with regrets of not understanding sooner. I battled some depression and I remember praying a very specific prayer asking God to use me in a powerful way for His glory, thanking Him and hoping it wasn’t too late to do something with what He gave me.
I began to consider making music my career path again. The problem I had always had as a musician is that I had no sense of gratitude for anything I had only a sense of entitlement. I thought maybe to pursue music ministry, but those doors never really opened. I think that I was seeking some vindication for my witness, as if people would take me more seriously if it was my job. In a sense I was looking to become closer to God “professionally” thus having an excuse for my zeal.
Gee, wonder why those doors didn’t open. Sometimes the most powerful Christian witness is the one that comes from just everyday normal people who love Jesus and try to give Him glory through what He has given them.
I made the decision to pursue a musical career once again in the classical/freelancing world as those doors were opening to me little by little. I had the opportunity to do some fundraising work for various organizations. I began for the first time working hard as a violinist and through this my sense of gratitude has been growing while my sense of entitlement shrinks. I discovered a talent for photography that also is simply a gift and began using Instagram for a sort of music ministry outreach. This has been a great place to combine all my interests, to show who I am as an artist and most importantly give the glory to whom it belongs.
I would be lying if I said there was no struggle. It is not easy to serve God from a stage, I am always checking my motives. It comes down to trusting God. God is faithful to keep me humble. I recently came to the decision to let go of the regret from my past that I never got a music degree and focus on my family. I am taking violin lessons and working as a freelancer with an eventual goal of auditioning for orchestral work. I am also serving on my church worship team. God is teaching me how to play for His glory whether I be practicing on my own, playing music on the street for people who pay no attention or on a stage for many. I am thankful for the work ethic He has given me.
I have based this testimony largely on my musical journey, but God has mightily remade me in other ways as well. Over the last decade I have lost half my body weight. Which is miraculous, because I should be dead. I was a smoker who weighed over three hundred pounds, I did not like myself at all and was pretty much a mess in every way. God is literally remaking me.
I will close with this. I have a lot of fear in sharing things as a Christian sometimes because even though I know Jesus forgives me I don’t want to be a stumbling block for anyone else. My past is not good, but I want others to know it is alright to show weakness and let God heal you. It is not about being perfect or ever having been perfect but about giving your pain and past to Jesus, then trusting Him for your present and future. I have a much easier time trusting God for my future than my past because, even though I know He was with me I was definitely walking far from Him. I remember His grace and have a peace about everything.
Please understand that God wants to run free in your life through your faith in Jesus by the power of the Holy Spirit. I pray that my story can help to inspire others who may be struggling in their own battles. There is still a lot of brokenness in my life and I don’t know if the healing will occur in this world but healing has been promised and that is enough.
Inspired by Jesus,
Rory is currently living in Oregon with her husband and son. She is a multi-genre violinist who enjoys bible study, music, nature, photography, family time and lots of coffee.