Facing My Fear
Jun 13, 2021 | by The Fellowship
From the moment I started seeking Jesus, in that lost and hopeless place a short two and a half years ago, worship music has had an immense impact on my relationship with Him. At times, early on, it was the only thing I could cling to in order to keep from just bailing out! I had done that at least two times prior when half-heartedly seeking God in my 20’s and 30’s.
I have spent untold hours over the last couple years developing my guitar abilities and I even recently began taking vocal lessons. The driving force behind so much of the time I put in is the knowledge that the more capable I become, the more able I am to help others experience the love and connection with God that Pastor John and others did for me. What better way to pay that forward than by promoting and developing that same heart for worship in others who simply require a supportive environment within which to build their confidence and skill?
I knew that our youth ministry did not currently have a praise team, but did not realize just how long the kids had been without one. I talked with Pastor John about my willingness to start a youth praise team if there was enough interest among the students. Pastor Joe asked me some time later to meet and talk about what a youth praise team might look like. That meeting was set for the following Monday.
But before that could happen, suddenly Pastors John and Joe texted with a request that a female vocalist and I run praise for the students that upcoming Sunday. “Oh great,” I thought, as anxiety began to well up inside of me! Suppose I crash and burn! How might that impact the students’ decisions to join the praise team before it even got off the ground …
I cannot really describe the depths of my ongoing struggle with anxiety and how it has negatively impacted my life in so many areas! Even those closest to me probably cannot comprehend just how all-consuming and destructive it can be! Playing guitar in front of an audience is still very new for me -- something I would never have envisioned a short three years ago. I literally had never done it except a couple of times for a few friends. Nevertheless, that Sunday worship went really well! However, this story is not about that weekend, but the next one!
There was one more ‘milestone’ I had to reach! It was necessary if I really wanted the kids to trust me and understand that I knew exactly what they would be going through up there in front of their peers. To show them how to face their fears and worship freely, I was going to have to do it myself!
I saw Pastor Joe on campus early in the week and asked him if I could play and sing solo on Sunday. Of course, he smiled and said, “Yes!” Immediately my anxieties surfaced, and I walked away asking myself why I had done something so stupid! All I could do was pray!
I attempted to get a handle on my nerves by practicing so much on Thursday that my voice started breaking (something I had never experienced). “I’m doomed,” I thought. “Why did I go and commit to this? What was I thinking?”
Sunday morning arrived. I made it to the YMCA parking lot without breaking for the Mexican border. After rehearsing, I went and listened to Pastor Jerry’s 1st service sermon and returned to the Y. The kids filed in ... sooo many kids! I noodled through communion -- and then it was time!
I started playing. There was no going back now. Just two instrumental bars and then I had to start singing the first song. Amazingly, my voice was holding up. I could hear students singing along! It was pleasant, but not a distraction. My own voice sounded loud in my ears, much louder than in rehearsal when the room was empty. I told myself, “The sound guy’s got this. No need to worry about how loud I am!” My voice was still holding up, but I began thinking how the upcoming song was more challenging vocally. I just kept singing. Then I thought to check my breathing. When nervous, I constantly hold by breath which can severely impact my singing. But I recognized it was not happening. I took an even deeper breath and was even more relaxed. The second song had already started, and I made the choice to not hold back and go for the higher parts. I heard the kids singing along even louder this time. I am in this amazing Holy Spirit bubble of calm and actually thinking more about praising God than which line or chord I am on!
I finished up ... almost because Pastor Joe has mercilessly asked me to pray! But the Lord knew! A good friend had sent me a short blessing ahead of time without knowing this would happen! We bow our heads and I read the blessing.
Walking off the stage, I am in a cloud of wonder, awe, and amazement! God has answered my prayers! I do not know if I will experience this every time I lead worship! But I will definitely long and pray for as much of our Lord’s wonderful affirmation as I can get.
But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses,
so that Christ’s power may rest on me.
2 Corinthians 12:9