After my first 2 days of horror, and my Galatians 2:20 experience, I began to realize that it wasn’t up to me to impress people; I simply had to do the best I could with what God had given me, and leave the rest up to Him. On my way to breakfast the next morning I said a quick prayer for peace and strength, and was immediately reminded of a quote that my Sunday School teacher and assistant youth pastor always said:
“Comparison is the thief of joy.”
I had no idea where this quote came from before Mr.Houser borrowed it and threw it into the pep talks he often gave us, I was just glad it had popped into my mind when it did. As I ate breakfast I tuned out most of what was going on around me, and allowed myself to entertain the thought that maybe, just maybe, my auditions weren’t as horrible as I originally thought they were. Sure they most definitely weren’t ideal, the tension I felt in my throat was very real, and I know I struggled. I also know that I am very hard on myself, and that I automatically assume that because someone else is talented, or has a different sounding voice than me, I am the most awful singer on the planet. I decided to throw my thoughts of my auditions away, at least for the remainder of that week and focus on our set that we were going to sing on Thursday night.
Practice came and went that day, and my previous dreams of not having a solo were crushed when Josiah announced that he wanted me to sing Alive during practice, to see how it fit my voice. I scrambled for words and suggested that Maggie sing the first verse, and I sing the second one, since Josh was going to sing the chorus. “Please God, I don’t want to sing a whole song” shot instantly through my mind. That worked for practice, and I was relieved. Later though Abi told me that I was going to sing lead on the verses of Alive. I was surprised, and terrified. Maggie had a better voice than I did, gosh, the entire band did. I didn’t want to let anyone down, but then I heard it. A tiny little whisper in my mind that said “comparison is the thief of joy, Ashley”.
As we ran through the song the first time with me officially on lead vocals I was still extremely nervous, which makes my voice more tense than it usually is. The more we went through it the more comfortable I felt. I was still very afraid to let my band, and leaders down, and I was still struggling with comparing myself to others, but I tried my very hardest to push through it. My band was very supportive, and I made a lot of friends, but I had this thought in the back of my mind that they were only putting up with me, and being nice only because they had to. My fear was still crippling, like it was the day I arrived, and I felt like the walking dead trying to deal with it. I can usually hide my fear and anxiety, but I know it was obvious to those around me, simply because of the severity of it. “It is no longer I who live..”- the rest of the day went pretty smoothly, and I tried to contain my mind and stop it from jumping to so many conclusions. Before I knew it, it was time for bed. I climbed in under the covers and closed my eyes – “but Christ who lives in me..”
The next morning I (barely) woke up and realized it was Thursday. I was exhausted and terrified, but little did I know that Thursday, and the rollercoaster of emotions it was going to take me on, was going to make the rest of my conflicted time at Worship Camp so, so worth it. Breakfast, rehearsal, lunch, sound check – I forget the words to the 3rd verse of Alive during sound check. I groan into the mic, and immediately regret it when everyone looks at me. Maggie sings the words softly; I remember and pick back up – practice, nap (that our awesome team leader Cody let us take, because we surely would’ve fallen asleep on stage had we not had one), cleaning up the practice room, dinner, prayer, performance. The day flies by and every second we get closer to the performance the more excited and terrified I get.
After we pray we all sing Cornerstone in a room behind the stage. Natalie and I cry; its one of the most raw and authentic sounds I’ve ever heard. Yellow Team is on stage, Red Team is on deck, my team (Green Team) is in the hole. We stand in the back of the auditorium singing along with Yellow Team, waiting to leave and go backstage when Red Team comes out. My nerves are going crazy. I’m cold and my heart was beating so fast I’m pretty sure it was visible. Applause. Yellow Team has finished their set and the audience loves it. We are on deck. My team and I walk backstage and wait, you can hear Red Team’s muffled performance from where we stand. Nervous energy is building in all of us. I ask Abi to double-check my harmony on a song; I sing a few lines and she tells me its right on. Our leaders give us a final pep talk and we walk out onto the stage.
The first song starts and my nerves almost instantly melt away. Great Are You Lord goes by easily, I read a Bible verse so flowingly that I surprise myself. Jesus We Love You passes like a breeze with its easy sounding harmonies. Alive comes and a sudden jolt of terror hits me for the tiniest moment, I sing the first line and peace washes over my body. “God please help me do good and remember the words” I pray internally during the song. We make it through our set. The crowd if deafening, maybe that is an exaggeration but it sure sounded deafening to me. Relief floods my body and I begin to walk off the stage, until I realize I forgot my Bible that is. I run back to get it and then walk off the stage to the back room where Blue Team is waiting on deck, and our team leaders meet us. Excitement buzzes between all of us and our leaders tell us how proud they are. We congratulate each other, and then head back out to worship with the remaining bands – my horrible audition all but forgotten. The rest of the night was filled with laughing, crying, worship, excitement, and way too much water for my exhausted vocal chords. I fall asleep that night with a huge smile on my face.
“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
To listen to the Heartsong versions of the songs my team performed, click their respective links below: