‘Count Me Among the Friends of God’: The Heart Behind Nightbirde’s ‘Golden’ Performance on AMERICA’S GOT TALENT
By Movieguide® Staff
Worship leader and singer-songwriter Jane Marczewski, better known by her stage name Nightbirde, went viral after her heartfelt performance of an original song earned her a “Golden Buzzer” on AMERICA’S GOT TALENT.
“On June 8, Marczweski walked onto the stage with a smile as judges Simon Cowell, Howie Mandel, Heidi Klum, and Sofia Vergara posed their introductory questions,” Movieguide® previously wrote. “Behind her joyful attitude, the 30-year-old Marcweski revealed that she was battling cancer in her lungs, lymph nodes, ribs, liver, and spine.”
After the 30-year-old Liberty University grad sang her original song “It’s OK” on the show, the song hit the top charts on iTunes.
Although Nightbirde revealed that she has a 2% chance of living, she told audiences during her audition to look beyond her circumstances.
“It’s important that everyone knows that I’m so much more than the bad things that happened to me,” she told the judges.
Popular Christian author and blogger Ann Voskamp recently reached out to Nightbirde and shared one of the artist’s blog posts about how she turns to God amid her severe battle with cancer.
Listen: Movieguide®’s staff discuss Nightbirde, the Olympics and more in their new podcast!
“After the doctor told me I was dying, and after the man I married said he didn’t love me anymore, I chased a miracle in California and sixteen weeks later, I got it,” Nightbirde wrote. “The cancer was gone. But when my brain caught up with it all, something broke. I later found out that all the tragedy at once had caused a physical head trauma, and my brain was sending false signals of excruciating pain and panic.
“I spent three months propped against the wall. On nights that I could not sleep, I laid in the tub like an insect, staring at my reflection in the shower knob. I vomited until I was hollow. I rolled up under my robe on the tile. The bathroom floor became my place to hide, where I could scream and be ugly; where I could sob and spit and eventually doze off, happy to be asleep, even with my head on the toilet,” she added.
The two-time cancer survivor confessed that she struggled to find purpose and answers in her pain.
“I have had cancer three times now, and I have barely passed thirty. There are times when I wonder what I must have done to deserve such a story. I fear sometimes that when I die and meet with God, that He will say I disappointed Him, or offended Him, or failed Him. Maybe He’ll say I just never learned the lesson, or that I wasn’t grateful enough. But one thing I know for sure is this: He can never say that He did not know me,” Nightbirde said.
“I am God’s downstairs neighbor, banging on the ceiling with a broomstick. I show up at His door every day. Sometimes with songs, sometimes with curses. Sometimes apologies, gifts, questions, demands. Sometimes I use my key under the mat to let myself in. Other times, I sulk outside until He opens the door to me Himself,” she continued. “I have called Him a cheat and a liar, and I meant it. I have told Him I wanted to die, and I meant it. Tears have become the only prayer I know. Prayers roll over my nostrils and drip down my forearms. They fall to the ground as I reach for Him. These are the prayers I repeat night and day; sunrise, sunset.”
However, Nightbirde also noted that her relationship with God grew as a result of her circumstances.
“Call me bitter if you want to—that’s fair. Count me among the angry, the cynical, the offended, the hardened. But count me also among the friends of God. For I have seen Him in rare form. I have felt His exhale, laid in His shadow, squinted to read the message He wrote for me in the grout: ‘I’m sad too,’” she explained. “If an explanation would help, He would write me one—I know it… I remind myself that I’m praying to the God who let the Israelites stay lost for decades. They begged to arrive in the Promised Land, but instead He let them wander, answering prayers they didn’t pray. For forty years, their shoes didn’t wear out. Fire lit their path each night. Every morning, He sent them mercy-bread from heaven.”
She adds: “I look hard for the answers to the prayers that I didn’t pray. I look for the mercy-bread that He promised to bake fresh for me each morning. The Israelites called it manna, which means ‘what is it?’ That’s the same question I’m asking—again, and again. There’s mercy here somewhere—but what is it? What is it? What is it?”
Despite her physical hardships, the audience at AMERICA’S GOT TALENT witnessed Nightbirde as joyful, optimistic, and thankful.
“2% is not 0%. Two percent is something, and I wish people knew how amazing it is,” she said after her “Golden Buzzer” performance.
Although Nightbirde continues to fight, she revealed that mercy and thanksgiving mark her heart as well.
“I see mercy in the dusty sunlight that outlines the trees, in my mother’s crooked hands, in the blanket my friend left for me, in the harmony of the wind chimes. It’s not the mercy that I asked for, but it is mercy nonetheless. And I learn a new prayer: thank you,” Nightbirde wrote in her blog post. “It’s a prayer I don’t mean yet, but will repeat until I do. Call me cursed, call me lost, call me scorned. But that’s not all. Call me chosen, blessed, sought-after. Call me the one who God whispers his secrets to. I am the one whose belly is filled with loaves of mercy that were hidden for me.”
She concludes: “Even on days when I’m not so sick, sometimes I go lay on the mat in the afternoon light to listen for Him. I know it sounds crazy, and I can’t really explain it, but God is in there—even now. I have heard it said that some people can’t see God because they won’t look low enough, and it’s true. Look lower. God is on the bathroom floor.”