There’s something I don’t like to talk about because it bothers me. A lot.
I’ve mentioned it here before, albeit briefly. I don’t go into depth about it because I’m afraid. I’m scared of what you’ll think of me. Even though I strive to be authentic and make myself vulnerable, there are some things that push me way beyond my comfort zone, and I dig my heels in, stubborn about not sharing my secrets.
But it’s time to let this cat out of the bag. It’s been in there for far too long.
You probably already know I’m a musician. I make frequent references to my piano playing. What you may not know is that I trained as a singer. My college degree is both in music education and vocal performance.
I used to sing my heart out.
There were scholarships and awards and contests and performances. I paraded across stages, singing lead roles like I was strolling through the park. I sat at the piano and played and sang at church, weddings, funerals, school functions, you name it.
I never got scared. Not about singing. Singing was my thing.
In fact, it was the one thing I was always confident about. I got timid about practically everything else, but never about singing. Not even in front of hundreds of people.
Then everything changed.
It’s hard to pinpoint exactly when things started going south.
Sometime shortly after Kyle (my 16 year old) was born, my voice started cutting in and out with annoying little glitches. I was frustrated and angry, but I kept singing.
The voice would come and go throughout the years, but it took a huge turn for the worse about three years ago.
Ever since then, I’ve struggled with both speaking and singing. Sometimes it’s only in public, but more often now, it happens even at home.
After exhausting every single avenue, chasing every possible rabbit to figure out WHAT’S WRONG WITH ME?!? I’ve come to the conclusion that it is plain and simple anxiety.
I don’t breathe well.
And my body has gotten into bad habits, especially when attempting to sing, of tensing up and trying to force the sound out.
I’m here to tell you, it doesn’t work.
How I’ve cried over the lousiness of it.
Maybe it seems like a dumb thing, but it was always my thing. I can’t even tell you the number of tears I’ve shed over the years. I have this voice inside me, dying to get out and sing “Go, Tell it on the Mountain” at the top of my lungs. . . and it fizzles on the first note.
So now that I’ve bared my soul, I’ll follow up with this:
I’ve made some decisions.
First off, I’ve been working on the anxiety for years. Years, I tell you. It’s better. But I’m not cured of it. Not by a long shot. So I still need to work on ridding my mind and body of anxiety.
This much I’ve learned in dealing with anxiety: I now recognize the symptoms and I can feel it coming on. I try to give myself grace in this area, and acknowledge it as a temporary condition.
Because nothing increases anxiety more than being anxious about your own anxiety. Can I get an amen?
Me, circa 1977 . . when I used to sing my little heart out.
But the second decision is the difficult one.
I’ve decided that I must retrain my brain and my body — from scratch — how to sing.
Y’all, it’s like trying to learn to walk again. Like physical rehab. It’s not pretty.
That’s my goal this year. To learn to sing. . . all over again.
I’m middle aged. It seems ridiculous to even think about it. And yet, it’s what I have to do. I’m buckling down and making myself sing even though it doesn’t feel good. Even though it’s not fun like it used to be. Even though it exhausts and discourages me.
But this is the year I will learn how to sing once more.
Psalm 40 says this:
I waited patiently for the Lord;
And He inclined to me and heard my cry.
He brought me up out of the pit of destruction, out of the miry clay,
And He set my feet upon a rock making my footsteps firm.
He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God;
Many will see and fear
And will trust in the Lord. Psalm 40:1-3
The “new song” can imply in the original Hebrew that it is fresh for this year. How appropriate in this first full week of January.
I can’t sing the old way anymore. I can’t rely on muscle memory or any of my old tricks. They’ve simply quit working.
Instead, I have to learn a new song.
It will take discipline, hard work, and acceptance of every small step as progress. I will need grace and encouragement and rest along the way.
But it is my goal.
Choosing One Word for 2016
And so instead of new year’s resolutions, I’ve chosen one simple word:
It is what I desire for my life. That it be a song that tells of God’s goodness and grace.
This is my story. This is my testimony.
This is my song.
And in 2016, I hope to be able to sing it.
So enough about me. Let’s take a look at your life, shall we?
Is there something you’ve convinced yourself you’ll never be able to do? Maybe it looms large and impossible-looking or maybe you’ve always been too scared to try.
If I can learn to sing again, you can learn to do whatever it is that’s eluding you.
- Maybe it’s a fitness goal, or learning to eat differently.
- Maybe it’s learning to be a morning person when you’re a total night owl.
- Maybe it’s establishing a habit of personal quiet time and prayer.
Whatever it is you’ve tried and failed at. . . may I offer you a challenge? Will you join me and decide that you will defy your fear and do that thing anyway?
We can do hard things. But we’ll do them better together.
Share your “one word” for 2016 in the comments below, or tell me about your goals for the new year. I’d love to hear from you!
I’m sharing this post with Bonnie Gray over at Faith Barista for her #OneWordCoffee linkup. Click on over to see others’ words for 2016!