stage fright

Renewed Life (2): Sing For Him by Michael Nichols

You may remember reading my previous post "Entering Rest -- Scripted". You may remember that I asked what your script is. Well, surprise -- another question: what happens when you lose the script? What happens when all of the premeditated thoughts and actions simply vanish when it comes crunch time? Matter of fact, if you've been out to do some karaoke, you probably understand completely what I'm talking about. Half way through the song, you completely blank on your line, so thank goodness the words are on the screen. Whew!

But what if they're not? What if it's all up to you to remember what it is you're doing? Simple. You have two options: leave the stage, or sing.

On the subject of stage fright again, a lot of times people will choke and forget the words simply because of the fear that they'll screw it up in some way. I think we've probably been scared of underperforming in some aspect of our lives, even if it's not an art form, something for which you must take the stage. Heck! Maybe you're just scared you're going to screw up a potential friendship, so you completely just black out everything you know about being a friend to avoid that failure, the letting down of someone we may grow to care for... but that was never really the point of friendship, was it?

Nobody is ever guaranteed a perfect friend, a perfect spouse, perfect parents, a perfect pastor, a perfect boss, president... We're not guaranteed a perfect world. Since when did that stop someone from doing what every fiber in their being wanted to do. I'm not saying, "Do what you want." Don't go around hurting people, or yourself for that matter. In fact, if what you want to do is curl up into a ball and roll off the stage and into some dark, riskless corner, I'd highly encourage you to do the opposite.

Everyone is going to screw up trying to live out love, speak the Gospel, be separated to God, be a friend to people around, hold a meaningful relationship. That's almost a guarantee, but an even better guarantee is that succeeding to do something good, especially your relationship with Jesus, is worth the risk of failure to get to the end of it.

Those questions from before: "What if I make some mistake and God kicks me out, or what if I'm laughed at for something I say?" -- I asked those questions once. I'd be lying to say that I have never asked them since. But now I know better. I know now that those are the wrong questions. The right question is, "Does Jesus really love me?" The answer is yes. The deeper you begin to accept the depths of His love, the more you'll realize that He's not looking for an excuse to push you away, and He's waiting on the other side of whatever it is you're going through, be it a hardship, or be it a sin you're trying to overcome.

So when you feel like you're on the stage and you're about to choke, just remember that Jesus loved you before you stood up, and He will love you still after it's over. Sing for Him.

Entering Rest (2): Scripted by Michael Nichols

For those of you who don't know, I'm a rotational musician/leader at church, and I've been spending the past seven years finding myself as a musician and as a writer/creative person in general. As a musician, one of the biggest things I've had to tackle is stage fright. If you'd known me before freshman year of high school, you'd know that performing arts wasn't exactly what I wanted to do.

Eventually, thanks to some epic people, I experienced a very personal paradigm shift due to she who would be my vocal coach "volunteering" me to audition for a competition. Until then, I'd always view performing arts as simply that. Unfortunately, I only was looking at the surface. Performance is a lot deeper than knowing the tools, techniques, and tricks of the trade -- at least it should be for anyone truly invested in it. From the audition I was selected. I didn't place in the end, but there was a journey that occurred -- really a nurturing -- that pulled out the innermost parts of me that were creating my fears.

Were my fears eliminated? No, but it was a start of something: realizing that performance isn't just about the script. Before that nurturing took place (to my voice and to my soul), I was a very scripted guy. I was into math, sciences. Arts and humanities -- ugh. Socially? Spiritually? Scripted, too. I followed the rules, tried to stay out of people's way, didn't question things I didn't like. I also played "Christian" and bought my own game, when in reality, I had no clue what the love of Christ really means.

"What if I say something wrong, and that cute girls in class just laughs or the other guys bully/shun me? What if I don't have perfect pitch and they boo me off the stage? What if I make a bad judgment call and God sends me to hell?" These were all questions I asked in the back of my mind but acknowledged as no more than mental hallucinations -- I didn't really accept that those were questions I had. How then could I know if there were answers, what they were, or that I was asking the wrong questions? Because in the end, really, I was asking the wrong questions.

I admit that sometimes I return to the script, and I still get stage fright, but now, I know better than to do that. Even though God wants us to follow Him, be holy, forsake sin, He's not looking for a script, and He doesn't kick people when they're down. He is a Father, so He disciplines His children, but He is not an abusive Father. He's not look for an excuse to keep us from crowding up Heaven. That's not who He is, and since He is what we really need as fallen humans, He doesn't give us a script.

What's your script?