This past week I spent 5 days at Cedarville University for Worship Camp, which was led by Heartsong, one of Cedarville’s bands. Totally out of my comfort zone. Leading worship at church is one thing; staying 6 hours away from home, going by yourself, and singing in front of people who are going to assess your voice is another. Needless to say I was terrified. I was so excited about the idea of Worship Camp, until the ride there. Suddenly my mind swarmed with everything that could possibly go wrong, and I spent the entirety of that 6 hour drive from Maryland to Ohio absolutely sick. Upon arrival the feeling didn’t dissipate. Lynne, a friend of mine and member of Heartsong who had stayed at my house when the group visited my church, found me and came up to my dorm and talked with me for a while. While we talked my nervousness faded slightly, but not for long.
Dinner passed without any food being consumed, and we moved forward to auditions and band placement. Panic. That was all that I felt at this point. My stomach had dropped farther down (if that was even possible) and my heart was beating so hard I’m pretty sure the entire campus could hear it. Forever by Kari Jobe was the song we had to sing for auditions. My head spun. I had always loved the song but I usually had the most awful time singing the chorus because it was high for me. I accepted my fate before I even began to sing. The nerves crept through my body and my muscles tightened. Unfortunately so did my vocal chords. The tension was evident as I began to sing. My heart was pounding and my mind was racing. I stared at my feet as I sang, and did all that I could not to run out the door. As I sang the last “alive” I collapsed back into my chair deflated. I was the 3rd person to sing, and boy did I screw it up. The chorus continued down the line of singers and I felt totally defeated. Why did I even come? I was the worst singer there.
The chorus wrapped back around and this time we had to sing harmony to the chorus. Easy, I thought. I love singing harmony and had been humming the harmony ever since I had obliterated the melody. My turn came around to sing and its like my ability to hear harmony totally left me, I struggled for notes that I thought I had been humming before, and once again collapsed into my chair when I was finished.
After an agonizing wait, I was placed in a band, and we headed to our rehearsal room to talk for a while before bed. I sat there completely mortified. It was all I could do not to burst into tears right then and there. We all introduced ourselves, but the only thing I could think about was how bad I did during the audition. It was crushing me. The leaders then talked about how excited they were to have us, and how great we would be, and how we were going to praise Jesus together. Once they heard me open my mouth, I knew they would be disappointed, I thought. I went to bed that night and just lay there. Why on earth did I come? Could I have messed that up any worse? I’m going to let my whole band down. I am the most untalented person here. All these thoughts and more swept quickly through my mind.
I didn’t get much sleep that night. In fact I spent most of it praying that my mom would come and pick me up early unexpectedly. That didn’t happen. That morning I trekked down to the dining hall for breakfast and sat alone, with only my roommate, who was insanely talented and had not a worry in the world. I downed an apple, and later regretted that I had because I was so nervous during rehearsal I thought I was going to throw up. As I listened to the rest of my band I realized that I was definitely the least talented person there. I quietly sang harmony when asked, and prayed silently that I wouldn’t be given a solo.
The day dragged on and I tried my hardest to eat something at every meal, even though it almost immediately made me sick. As each band rehearsal approached the gnawing terror in my stomach increased and I felt more and more unworthy. Every time I was asked to sing I almost cried, solely because I didn’t want to let anyone down. That night as everyone played games at the Hive I sat on a couch outside of the Hive, a few other loners around me. I finally had time to think. Everyone back at home had always told me that I had a gift, and even though I didn’t see it, my security rested in my ability to sing. When I got to Cedarville a reality check hit me. Even though I don’t think I have a good voice, I based my life around the fact that people told me I did. I placed my security in the fact that I could do something well, rather than in the One who gave me the ability to do it well. Dr.O’Neel’s words from that morning rang in my head as I sat there. “The things we do often identify us, and we need to be careful” he had said. My ability to sing didn’t rest on me. No matter how much I may work at it and try to improve it; ultimately it is God who gave me the ability, and He is the one who decides how it will be used.
I realized that my job that week was not to impress anyone, but rather use what God has given me to glorify Him. I also realized that my security should rest in the One who gave me my abilities, rather than my abilities themselves. The way that I feel about myself and what I can do, changes very often, but God is always constant, and if my security is in Him, it will never be shaken. I carried my heavy thoughts back to my dorm with me, and thought long and hard about it as I showered and headed to bed. I fell asleep with Galatians 2:20 on my mind.
“I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” ~Galatians 2:20