I don’t remember a time when I wasn’t involved in music. My first solo was in church at age 5 or 6. And, my first “big” solo came just a couple of years later, when I was in 2nd grade. The audience numbered about 300 and I sang a solo called “The Wedding of the Painted Doll.” I remember that it was 6 pages because when you are 7, the number of pages you have to memorize is important! With my “Shirley Temple” curls and my “fru-fru” dress, I stood at the front of the stage, stage left, while first graders acted out a wedding scene behind me.
Many years later, Poppa told me that his thought that night was, “Well, we never have to worry about her in front of a crowd.” I just remember being a bit irritated. You see, as the heavy curtains opened, the microphone stand got caught up in them and started to fall. I rushed my entrance a bit, grabbed the stand before it hit the floor, and set it aright. I remember hearing the audience gasp, worried that the young girl might be upset or frightened by the incident. No problem; I was just a bit put off that my song might be ruined because of that silly mic stand.
The only explanation I have for that early confidence is my parents. Mom and Poppa never pushed us, but they did teach us to practice, work hard, stand up straight, and to do our best.
Even with that great upbringing, I haven’t always felt comfortable being in front. And that brings me to my dilemma this Sunday. My music training was very traditional. I played classical violin; I played hymns on the piano; I sang four-part harmony; I even appreciate 4/4 and 3/4 timing!
A few years ago, our choir director turned to me one Wednesday night and said, “Jill, why don’t you take the solo in this choir song?” What on earth was she thinking?!?! This particular piece requires the soloist to be able to sing off the beat, to do a little ad libbing and to “be out there.” Was she having a mental break down? Didn’t she realize that she had pointed to CARLA JILL MULLINS STEIN???
I knew that there was no possible way that our director (whom we call “Fearless”) could know that I loved to sing American spirituals when alone in the car. But, those are songs between me and God. This performance was not going to be a private “car” song; this was a solo to be sung in church with the full choir. And so, I started practicing. But, it wasn’t until I stopped practicing and started praising that the song became a song between me and God.
I believe in giving our best to God. And so, singing this song isn’t something that I am casual about or approach in a sloppy way; it is just outside of my training, my experience, and (yes, I can hear you saying it) my comfort zone.
I love singing the song and, although it still makes me a little nervous, I am praying that our choir will “rock God’s house” with it this Sunday morning.
My desire is to quit being concerned about what I haven’t done before and to become fascinated about what God has for me to do today. Why don’t you and I agree to stop reliving, rehearsing, remembering what once caused hurt in our relationships and focus on the memories we can build today. Let’s stop holding back and start letting go. How about we tear down every barrier we have built to keep others at bay. And, while we’re at it, let’s give up worrying about how others see and think about us and just love them!
“Our mouths were filled with laughter, our tongues with songs of joy. Then it was said among the nations, ‘The Lord has done great things for them.’” (Psalm 126:2)
p.s. Want to have some fun? Join us at the 9:00am service this Sunday at the Pensacola First Church of the Nazarene!!