Thoughts on my sister’s wedding.

I have no idea what to write about. I’m still processing my sister’s marriage. It will take a while to internalize it. I met my brother-in-law’s family… which are a taller version of my dysfunctional family. The wedding was a celebration of my sister and brother-in-law’s new chapter in life, but it was also a portrayal of the family’s divide, both racially and culturally. My brother’s and I stayed with Puerto Rican people mostly, Mayra’s co-workers stayed primarily with each other, and my brother-in-law’s family stayed primarily with each other. Everyone stayed within their comfort zone.

My thoughts on this event are the same as with any other event: I know I was there, but I don’t feel that I fully lived it. I don’t feel capable of that feat.

I enjoyed seeing my sister happy.

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Evaluation of song performances in church

Song performances in this post exclude devotionals. The reason for this is that a devotional is a group activity while a song performance is an individual part. Also… because I say so.

Song performances, regardless of whether done individually or with someone else, can be divided into two categories (because I say so): song performances of songs you didn’t write and song performances that you composed yourself. Why? Because the process to the performance is different. Choosing a song to perform is a shorter, less personal process than choosing a song you wrote yourself. It’s probably one of the reasons why someone who sings a popular song tends to speak more than someone who sings a song they wrote them self. Someone that sings their own song puts more of themselves into it, regardless of whether they show it or not. They take a bigger risk than the person that sings a song someone else wrote and that already has popular acceptance.

To me, someone that sings a song that they composed is doing a higher quality performance than the person that sings something that someone else wrote. Then again, I am biased… and there are more criteria than this, like whether God backs the person singing or not.

 

Reacting to my adoptive father’s feedback to Sunday night performance.

Last post, I wrote about going through the process of singing one of my songs at church. I got an interesting feedback from Dad that gives me mixed thoughts. I thought it be best to put it in a separate post.

When Dad talks about my lack of skill in terms of relating to people, he always uses as a standard a song that I performed in 2008 that I wrote when I was in Venezuela that year, because he saw that I was more… human? He states that I showed more of who I was and that I was more confident or something when I performed that time. He always stated that I hadn’t shown that which he saw since and that he thinks that it’s a shame because of the good he saw in that moment. I don’t know. I didn’t notice it at the time.

After last Sunday’s service, I go to where Dad is to say hi… by kicking him softly behind his left knee (totally something that a socially awkward INTJ would do). He gave me his feedback to the whole performance thing. He stated that I shattered the standard placed in 2008. He said that he had to look at the altar a few times to make sure it was me up there. He told me that I was more fluid and had more confidence in performing the new song, both in what I said before singing and in performing the song itself. He stated that I showed more humanity in the song… whatever that means.

That’s fine, and I respect his opinion. However, at times Dad’s evaluation makes me think that the process that I undertake to write each song I performed between 2008-2016 is undermined by performing the songs under an analytic and rational perspective. I always had the philosophy that I should let the song “speak for itself” and not adorn it with too many words. This type of feedback makes me think that the song itself, and everything that I put into it’s creation, is not enough. That sucks.

I have noticed that I have become more fluid with speaking before performing a song. I got older, so I have acquired experience and knowledge that allows me to have more to say. I have also become more comfortable with speaking prior to a song. I have noticed a more preacher mentality in the last song performances that I have done, something that didn’t happen until 2014-15. However, seeing that he still used an old performance as a standard made me think that this change had little value.

This feedback doesn’t take into account that I do have to take off my musician hat to put my performance hat, something that no one else has to do. Dad doesn’t give me a little slack because of my time restriction in at service preparation. Oh well.

In summary, his evaluation is based on a criteria that is hard to recognize… even harder to master. Because of this, I think that getting to the level that he tells me that I should be is going to always be an achievement that is “luck-based” than something that I can work on to master. This is what makes me most uncomfortable about his feedback.

 

 

Singing my own songs at church.

Singing my own songs (yes, I am a Christian song writer… among other things) is… a task. It’s one of the things that I can do in my church, but I don’t do regularly. I think of it as a kick ass perfume that should only be enjoyed in small sparsely timed doses… or at least that is what I say to others. I just don’t want to go through the process it entails on a regular basis. Why?

I, as any human, get nervous. I get nervous because I’m performing in public. I, as any other human INTJ, wants everything to be perfect. I want to say that which complements the song that I am about to sing, but I also want what I do to flow well with the rest of the service. Something that is hard to do when the services in my church are not organized by theme.

The other reason that I get nervous and scared is because the songs are of “my” creation. I wrote the songs in moments of vulnerability. Singing these songs, to the contrary of people that sing popular Christians songs, are tasks that involve exposing myself to the congregation. I fear judgement. Even with all the preparation, all the care that I put into the song lyric and the song’s musical progression, I don’t always feel confident that everything is alright.

When I sing one of my songs, I have to focus on several things. what I say before singing the song, singing the song right without verbal or timing mistakes, playing the chords in the way that I planned, and keeping ultimate focus on the task… not to mention having some eye-contact with the public. It is hard. It takes a lot of energy because my fight or flight response is in it’s most active state. I rarely feel God’s presence when I’m there because I fear making a mistake if I left my full control of myself go.

This is not taking into account that before I step up to the altar, I am playing the drums in the devotional. This means that from the end of the devotional, which really is when the master of ceremony starts talking, to my part I have about 30 seconds to take off my musician hat and put on my singing hat. I have told one master of ceremony that I need them to speak long enough to get ready… wasn’t that effective.

Why do I go through all of this? Because God told me to sing for him. Because God gave me the talent to write songs in an answer to my prayer and I need to display it. Because it is something that I can do that not many people around me can.

Last Sunday I went through this process. I was told by the co-pastor at 2:19 pm to sing a song at 7:40 pm. Yep. A 5 hour notice. I don’t like doing this type of task under a pressured circumstance on a regular basis because of my INTJ planning nature. Yet I end up having to improvise a seemingly programmed “special song” in services because I am a reliable and excellent scapegoat for that. I am good for that task not because I’m good at improvising but because I play all of the songs myself (one of the perks of being a musician). On Sunday night, I sang one of my newest songs in my church. I undertook the process valiantly. I sweated… a lot. I feared all of the things mentioned. Yet I felt at the end of the service that everything clicked.

At the end of the service, I got really good feedback. I sometimes question the validity of the feedback because they say the same things about every song regardless of whether I know that I failed or not. Still, I take the feedback as positive reinforcement and just allow myself to feel good.

What I am afraid of.

I’m afraid of living life without leaving an acceptable legacy.

I’m afraid of making the wrong decisions.

I’m afraid of screwing up.

I’m afraid of conflicts and their effects on my health.

I’m afraid that I will never be able to control changes in my life.

I’m afraid of God.

I’m afraid that I will never be taken seriously.

I’m afraid that I will never be successful.

I’m afraid of the implications of being with someone that will love me despite my flaws and issues.

I’m afraid of loosing control of the manifestation of the baptism of the Holy Spirit.

I’m afraid of not having control.

When I’m on stress I…

… will start to loose concentration on simple tasks.

… will start to think about all of the things that could go wrong with the situation.

… will feel my body become consumed by the situation that stresses me out.

… will try to push my feelings and my physical reaction to one side so that I could be more rational and solve the problem. It doesn’t work that well.

… will try to keep it inside, especially if I’m in a public place.

… apply my lifelong training on how to live with stress.

… feel the internal battle for control.

… only share my stress with people that I trust.

… wish that I was better able to handle it.

… wish that it didn’t have the hold that it tends to have on me.

… feel that it’s shaving years off my life.

… wonder if it’s normal the way that I manage stress and my relationship with stress.

… feel that I might not be mentally normal and that there is something seriously wrong with me.

… feel that I need to hide my stress and the sources of my stress in order to not be an inconvenience in society.

God’s efficiency.

I like to think of God as an efficient God, because it gives me something to aspire to. I like to think that God is an efficient God because of how God operated on creation: creating self-sufficient systems that He supervises, instead of creating each individual thing. I like to think that God is way more efficient than I will ever be, because that gives me the comfort that God will do things better if I leave it in His hands.

Today I’m processing a sermon that a very spiritually inclined minister gave last night about how we need to treat each other (no exclusion, with love, and be at peace with each other… among others). The person that gave the sermon has a reputation of committing some, if not all, of the faults that he talked about in the sermon. Therefore, I had to take the sermon for what it was.

Seeing this, and the pattern in the Bible of who got to be known as great in the Bible, made me wonder how efficient is God. As someone that strives for efficiency, it would shake certain beliefs about God if I were to conclude that God is not efficient. I have thought that the efficiency of man is not the efficiency of God, which may better deal with the possibility that God is not as efficient as he is painted to be.

Today, though, I wondered… what if efficiency is not God’s priority? What if the goal of God is not related to efficiency and that efficiency is just an also? That would explain certain things in the Bible and beyond.

Trusting family… maybe not.

This last week, after having or listening conversations about my family, I realized that I have to be more critical about the content that I receive from my family. I saw a lot of inconsistencies and I stopped being able to know who to believe. I realized that I need to keep a distance from my biological family.