Monday, September 12, 2016

Rediscovering: My Voice

I have gotten out of the habit of singing in the shower. It's something I stopped doing when I started apartment living back in '09. I've gotten out of the habit of singing and humming around the house, there's always so much other competing noise, I save my sanity by keeping silent. I've become an internalizer with my music - and often the music is gone altogether. I've missed the music that used to press so firmly against my heart, and I was looking for an door to open to allow some to find it's way back. The door was opened this last week.

I was given the opportunity to sing for my congregation.

The hubs accompanied me.

I chose a simple arrangement of Come Thou Fount for a Medium voice. No key changes, just the words at a 70 bpm rate with a few little interludes for the piano to bring the spirit of the song.

My voice is out of shape, I haven't been using it. I've lost over an octave from my range. I was straining on a C above middle and I was embarrassed and nervous for how the song would turn out at a 9:00 am meeting when I often struggle with hymn singing at that time. I was in constant prayer during my practices that the spirit would work through me and allow me to deliver my message: Here by Thy great help I've come. Prone to wander, Lord I feel it, Here's my heart, o take and seal it, seal it for Thy courts above.

I finally got the words down Saturday night before the performance, but I never had a practice where I felt like my voice was just taking the music where it needed to go. I felt like I was putting too much effort into everything.

The morning of the performance I woke early and started my water drinking, forced myself to awkwardly sing through my shower, and prodded myself to hum hymns as I made breakfast for my boys and did my hair and makeup.

The hubs and I played through the song twice and I felt confident that I would be able to hit my C's.

Sitting in sacrament meeting my nerves started to get a little jumpy. My stomach was slowly filling with butterflies. Again, constant prayer that all would go as He planned.

As I headed to the podium the nerves came in full force and the shaking began. I tried to keep it under control, not sure where to set my eyes while I was singing. Shawn started up with the accompaniment. It was go time.

All was off to a fine start. I was projecting fine, I hit my first C. I could hear the wavering in my voice but I was keeping it at bay. Then somewhere there in the first verse I hit a wall. I stopped, the tears came. I tried to get them under control and began the measure again. Through my tears.

Each time I would think I had it under control I would crash into another wave of emotion and 'sing' through broken sobs. Here by Thy great help I've come. *Sob*. Jesus sought me when a *sob* stranger. I was drowning in my emotion and love for my Savior and a congregation of  130+ people were watching me struggle through it.

I probably made it through 4 lines combined without sobbing, which was a small fraction of the song, but the spirit kept washing over me and I couldn't escape His touch.

When I was finally shaking safe in my pew, I slowly pulled myself together and sat through the rest of the meeting avoiding any one's gaze. My aunt (who I'd invited to hear me sing - not sob) leaned over and gave me a little hug of reassurance.

As soon as the closing prayer was said and the flood of people moved out of the chapel and into the hall I was again consumed, this time by love from the congregation. The sweet lady behind me telling me it was her favorite performance of the song; the friend who spoke before I sang telling me she wished to stand next to me and hold me through it; the gentleman in the hall who told me he felt as though I were a sister and embraced me while juggling child and bags; the woman who had scheduled my performance who felt the spirit; another friend who was touched. Based on the feedback there was nare a dry eye in the congregation, or a soul whom wasn't touched by the warm encircling of the spirit by whose waves I'd been ravaged so publicly.

A small part of me was lost in the sorrow of another botched, imperfect performance; another failed attempt to sing in public. But there was no support for those threads of thought. Each time I thought I had heard the last of the comments, there was another kind heart who was touched by my testimony of the Savior, ready to express gratitude for my performance. Each let me know that they shed tears along with me.

Once home from church, safe to allow myself to 'woe-is-me' for my performance, the texts started coming in. All the same and yet so different and touching in their own way. Tears sprang to my eyes each time another would come; I was touched that the Lord had allowed me - such an imperfect tool in his hands - to help build up the kingdom of God in such an imperfect way. After the texts were Facebook messages, and the next morning I logged onto my email to hear from another gentleman:
While you were singing, D&C 25:12 kept running through my mind

"For my soul delighteth in the song of the heart; yea, the song of the righteous is a prayer unto me..."

As much as any musical number I have ever listened to, your beautiful song felt like a pleading to our father in heaven.
And so I believe that the Lord's plan for my performance was fulfilled. His message was spread through that congregation like a rising tide and all present were pulled into the same love for the Savior that I felt. That is how the Lord will continue to work in our lives, in ways that seem so imperfect to our human perspectives, but are whole and perfect for our spirits. Sometimes we don't see the how it's all going to work or why things are the way they are, but the Lord sees it, and if we can just allow Him to  move through us, we can push His work of love and peace and grace forward and bring the world His truth.

The scripture that was shared with me touched my heart and I wanted to share it with you all. So I made another 8x10 print for anyone who wants one.
Download the 8x10 here.

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