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.