All my life I have loved music. My mom says my singing career was born through Jump, by the Pointer Sisters. It would come on MTV and I would run in front of the TV singing, dancing and jumping.
This is after the Pointer Sisters, but check out that fly 1988 jump suit. Also, Jolly Green Giant comments began around this time.
As a teenager, I would lock myself in the basement for hours with my walkman, stare at lyrics inside the tape jacket, and learn every word note, run, and harmony. I started singing in school in the fifth grade and carried on until I graduated high school performing in all-state choirs, jazz ensembles and high school musicals. Because my music teacher had such a profound impact on my life, I wanted to be one.
When I was young, someone screamed at me to shut up. I was singing along with my walkman (if you don’t know what that is, IT’S BECAUSE I AM REALLY OLD), and in this person’s own frustration, they needed me to be silent. This person had an important role in my life and the ability to influence how I felt about myself and my gifts. I was crushed. I still loved to sing, but because of those negative consequences, I felt afraid to share my voice publicly.
As I grew older, I continued participating in music programs, but something had shifted in me. I felt insecure and anxious. Every time I was called on to audition, or sing a solo, it’s almost as if my voice would shrink from the nerves.
I ended up at NC State on an academic scholarship to study Textile Apparel Design & Management but I had hoped to at least still minor in music. I took music theory, choir and in my sophomore year, a vocal class. Unfortunately, even though I had stopped partying so much, I was very ill with bulimia. I came to class one morning, sick as a dog from all the binging and purging. When we had to stand to vocalize, I couldn’t stand the whole time. After class, the teacher pulled me aside and said, “If you want to party all night and drink yourself sick, don’t bother coming back to my class.”
I never attended another music class.
After moving to Los Angeles, my co-workers and I would go karaoke on Wednesday nights by my house in Hollywood. Since I didn’t really know them, we would let loose and sing our faces off. I also began working with a voice coach to repair the damage bulimia had done to my throat. I had started the recovery process and began to deal with the things in my past. When I ended up attending their church a year later, they hustled me and set me up on a choir audition, since those rascals had heard me sing. (I didn’t even know any of the church songs, so I sang Alicia Keys, Butterflies.)
I am just as confused about this shirt with ribbon belt as you are. Also, primary colors? Really?
I had been on the team for about six months when they asked me to be one of the leaders on the microphone. I was absolutely terrified. I threw up from nerves, before worshiping the first few times. All the fear, the insecurity, the pressure to perform, came rushing back. Each time we had to audition, and re-audition, or sing our parts alone, the tape recorder of negative words from my childhood would go off, and I would shrink or go off key. Once I even laughed hysterically, (not because anything was funny, I mean I literally was laughing in complete hysteria because of anxiety) and could not perform the audition and had to take a rest from leading until I could sing in front of the directors. I say with confidence that I did not have one great audition in the seven years I served in our choir.
Because of God’s grace, the leaders I had discipling me, and the presence of the Lord in my life, I did learn to worship God in spite of my insecurities and I did learn to stand before people in spite of the sheer terror I felt around performance. I learned that worship is not a performance and I was able to teach others how to press into the presence of God. As I reflect back on the many years I gave to music, I am sad that the majority were centered around my insecurities. God gave me a gift, however tiny it is, and I couldn’t enjoy it. How did I let one negative voice dictate so much of my life?
Insecurity ruins everything.
Insecurity ruins everything because it makes everything about me. Insecurity makes it impossible for me to remain present in the moment, and to establish rich connections with God and others. Insecurity stifles development and growth. Insecurity leads us to be consumed with ourselves, to remain in bondage to the past, to obsess over people’s perception of us, to attempt to control our environment and people to create security. Before long, we are drowning in self-pity, masking who we really are, and losing our life to fear.
What I have learned through this small gift in my life, is not to waste any more time enslaved to fear. Whatever God gives me, is not about me. He has given it to me for me to serve people. I have learned that He is able to restore what is broken in our lives, that He takes all things that happen in our lives (ALL MEANS ALL) and works them together by His grace for our good.
I have learned to ask myself: “Why? Why am I doing this? Why am I not doing this? What are my motives? Do I have something to prove? Is fear hindering me from doing what I was created to do? Am I wearing a mask, or being authentically who I am?”
Search me [thoroughly], O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there is any wicked or hurtful way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. Psalm 139:23-24
What insecurity ruins, God restores. The fear that sneaks into our lives as children can be overcome. If you are still haunted by the sting of verbal abuse, the power of those words can be extinguished by the truth. The truth is that you are loved. You were created with a purpose. In all of eternity, there will never be another you. You are valuable and you matter.
I am not a music teacher, but I sing in the shower, in the car, to my baby and I am not afraid to be who I am. I pray the same for you, my friend. Go ahead and do what God made you to do. Live a life you love.