When my mother was pregnant with me, my sisters would sing the Macarena in my general direction. According to my dad, this was all 8 months that my mom carried me around (well 7 and a bit, I was 6 weeks early), which explains why the Macarena is forbidden in my house. Even though all this crappy 90s dance music surrounded me as i grew, I can dance about as well as I can speak Spanish. But one thing stuck, music.
When I started elementary school in 2002, I was armed with a discman and a collection of classic cds. I rocked the Casbah through primary and earned myself a solo in the Christmas concert. Before now, I didn’t know people could and couldn’t sing. It was all in the love of music for me. But with the help of my music teacher, somehow 5 year old me learned Silent Night in German and performed it in front of a gym full of parents. That was the first time I can remember being complimented on something.
From then on, I wore headphones as much as I could. Music came with me as I grew up, and I sang at all school assemblies, I’m pretty sure my elementary school still plays a recording of me singing the national anthem from when I was 8. Music was the only thing I was confident in until 1st grade when the bullies rolled in. I wish I knew then what I know now about bullies, but 7 year old me was never good enough for these girls. No matter what I did, they continued to be ruthless in attacking my singing. Their words almost kept me from pursuing the only thing I loved, but I’m so happy they didn’t.
Soon I started doing musicals, I had to audition which has horrible because all my performances had been handed to me. But it went off without a hitch, I sang Renegade by Styx (of course I did, oh wow) and they gave me the role on the spot. Music was making my life amazing once again.
I spent so much time with my theatre family. Shows and matinees and rehearsals. Music was all around me and I was happy. The last show I did was High School Musical “Mania”, a combination of the first 2 films. A 14 year old Sharpay slays the audience, I was a fierce 4’10 in sequined heels and a blonde wig, and I was still happy. But when the rug was pulled out from under my feet, I stopped. I promised I would never perform again.
Fast forward through 2.5 years of depression and anxiety to me in the church for the second time. We were singing for worship, something Cassie had prepared me for. There was Glenn playing a guitar that looked tiny next to him, there was David playing piano, and there I was standing in the front of a church letting my old friend music wash over me as I read the words on the screen. I felt this incredible warmth come over me as I watched these amazing people sing to a God I never knew, a God I needed to know. That night I went home and downloaded as many modern worship songs as I could get my hands on. These songs brought me a new kind of peace from music that I never knew.
This music lead me to God, these songs made me want to read my bible more, and these songs made me want to sing again.
Imagine my terror when the whole church figured out I could sing. I was about to have vocal cord surgery so I couldn’t sing immediately, but it was coming. I knew I could still sing, but I was in no way the same person I was when I performed the last time. Tragedy shook the ground beneath my feet and anxieties followed me through the day, how was I supposed to sing in front of anything but my shower curtain?
When I was sent the song list, I made certain to listen to those songs at all the spare moments in my week. I was going to be ready, except I knew I wouldn’t be. Normal “stage fright” is caused by naturally occurring anxiety chemicals in the brain, and normal people only produce enough of those to last an hour. So if you make yourself feel the nerves an hour before showtime, you’ll be set when it comes down to it. I say normal people because I produce way too many of these chemicals, like 12 hours worth. So I decided to be nervous the whole day, but I was still nervous when I got to rehearsal that night. Like, more scared than a turkey on thanksgiving. But I don’t want anyone’s pity, so I kept that one to myself. I never asked anyone about it, but I’m sure I screwed up the words and all my harmonies and I was shaking like a sick chihuahua.
But I’ve more recently come to realize that I’m going to be okay, because I’m not singing for the same reasons I used to sing. I was fueled by a need for approval, I lived to hear people tell me I had the voice of an angel. But I didn’t join the worship team so people would appreciate me, I joined because song is the best way for me to praise God. Music is all over the bible, there are songs literally written into the bible. I have chosen to remember one line in particular, “I will sing to the Lord as long as I live; I will sing praise to my God while I have being.” Psalm 104:33.
I have been given the ability and the opportunity to give back to God through song, and I will do that for as long as I live.