About two months ago, my ten year old told us at the supper table that Chorus was putting on a musical called “Rock n’ Roll Through the Ages”, and that rehearsals would be starting soon. When he added that solo parts would be given to two boys for Buddy Holly and the Pinball Wizard, and one to a girl for Connie Francis, something clicked in my brain.
“Is that why you’ve been playing ‘Peggy Sue’ on repeat lately?”
He grinned, confirming my thought process.
“You would definitely make a good Buddy Holly with your specs,” I noted. He’s got the classic thick, black frames that are pretty much synonymous with the legend.
He then went on to tell us more about the musical, all the other iconic artists that would appear in the show and which clips of their songs would be sung by the chorus club. His enthusiasm for the upcoming performance was fun to see, all lit up across his face.
A week or so passed and I asked my son if he knew when the auditions would be held for the solo parts. He said that his teacher would be sending out an email soon, but that he had already decided he wasn’t going to audition.
“I just don’t want to,” he claimed with an edge of sadness.
I didn’t quite understand what had shifted, but the enthusiasm from a week prior had been replaced by melancholic resignation. He seemed awfully affected for someone who was making a genuine choice not to do something.
After a few days, the teacher sent that email detailing the audition dates and times. I broached the topic with my boy again, this time asking him to speak with me privately in a separate room away from his brothers. After pressing him a bit, he revealed that his “I just don’t want to” was really an “I’m afraid” and an “I don’t think I’m good enough.”
My heart hurt for him as that feeling resonated deep in my soul. I did a quick mental inventory of all the things I’ve allowed to be dictated by fear in my own life: things I’ve made conscious choices not to do or participate in, just because plain old fear and fear of what others might think, deterred me. Home Girl has never even learned to dive into water because I was too embarrassed to try and fail in front of other people when I was growing up. As I sat next to my son, contemplating whether to push him into auditioning or just back off and let him make his own decision, I felt an immediate jolt in my spirit. It took me a second to pinpoint why I was reacting so strongly on my son’s behalf, and then a clear thought formed:
Your fear is often disobedience.
And I knew exactly what the Holy Spirit was pointing me to.
About two years ago, I had felt a tug on my heart to join the worship band at church. Over the course of my then-thirty-years, I had a self imposed rule to never sing publicly. Because, you know, fear. And fear of what others would think. But I kept feeling a tug and desire to start singing with the amazing band on Sundays. So, I audio-recorded myself singing two or three songs and sent them to one of the pastors at church who was in charge of worship. Being pretty close friends, I also added a disclaimer to the recording: If you like it, great – – we can talk about next steps. If you don’t think it’s good, just delete it and we’ll pretend this never happened. Mmmkay? K.
As it turned out, he liked the recording, and asked me to come to worship practice on a Thursday night. This was fantastic news for me, because I was able to practice in front of the band, which was already a larger crowd than I was accustomed to singing in front of, and also because another friend was scheduled to sing that week as part of the rotation, so I was able to shadow and learn from her. They asked me to join in on that Sunday’s worship, and it was fantastic because I had the other woman there as my crutch. It went well. It was safe. Invulnerable.
Fast forward a couple weeks, and it was my turn to sing with the band. As the female lead. Alone. Wahhh! Our church had two identical services, so the first service, I sang with the band and the worship leader, happily blending in with their voices and instruments. That is, until the time came for the song that I would be leading. I opened my mouth and started the song way higher than I had intended, my nerves getting the best of me. I looked out to the congregation, and just couldn’t find peace with what I was doing. Handsome Hubby happened to be out of town that weekend, so I didn’t even have the stability of looking to his face for comfort from afar. I truly botched that song. I was crawling in my own skin the entire time because I knew it didn’t sound the way it had when I was rehearsing. I didn’t hit any of the notes correctly, I just KNEW everybody was cringing having to listen to me, and I was grateful that it was the last song of worship before the pastor would come on the stage and relieve me from my misery.
When My Fear Became Disobedience
I walked off the stage and went to my car and cried. Hard. I was incredibly embarrassed and didn’t know what made me think I could sing in front of other people after years of purposely avoiding it. I wailed to myself and to God, “That was just awful. I’m humiliated. All that practicing and memorizing, it was just a waste of time. I can’t ever do that again. I’m going to have to tell them I can’t sing for the second service.”
Then, the Holy Spirit’s conviction:
“Was praising Me on stage in front of others really a waste of your time? Do you honestly regret singing songs that were meant to glorify Me?”
Daaaaaang, God, did ya have to make it smart quite so much? Ouch! I’m still icing that burn.
So I wiped my eyes and cleaned up the remnants of mascara-tears from my cheeks, exited my car, and went back into the church to wait out the clock until it was time for second service to begin.
As usual, attendance was significantly lower for second service, and so my kids’ Sunday School teachers decided to bring the kids in to worship with the grown ups before separating into their classrooms. I felt comforted seeing my boys out there. Throughout the first couple songs, my heart soared watching them praise without inhibitions. From the front row, they clapped, they swayed, they belted out the lyrics, pitch be darned. I was so proud of them, so touched by their generous worship, completely unaware and unaffected by anyone around them, and I just couldn’t help smiling at them from the stage, watching them praise our Lord and Savior.
And again, conviction, but this time a little more gently: The way you feel watching them worship Me, is the same way I feel watching YOU worship Me.
Oh, how repentant I was! For making that song, those moments, about me and my fear. I began to lead the same song I did during first service, and rightly focused my mind, heart, and spirit on the intended recipient. It went great because my focus was on Him and not myself.
Should I Allow Fear to Make Decisions For My Child?
Sitting on the edge of my bed with my ten year old and remembering that conviction from two years ago so strongly and vividly, I became slightly angry that fear was starting to creep up in my son’s life, and I just thought, “Not on my watch! No way is my son not going to try something that he feels drawn to because of fear.” If he truly didn’t want to audition and had no interest in such things, I would have patted him on the shoulder and told him “Good for knowing what you want and what you don’t want”. But that wasn’t the case here. This was letting fear dictate the choice.
I told my boy that fear has no place in his life, and that I would like him to learn that lesson at age ten, rather than at age thirty, like I had. I shared with him my many failures in giving fear power in my life. I reminded him of my worship story and what the Holy Spirit had laid on my heart. I combed through scripture with him, reading 2 Timothy 1:7, Philippians 4:7, 1 John 4:18, Psalm 56:3, Isaiah 41:10, Joshua 1:9, and Psalm 118:6.
I asked him if he would be willing to sing “Peggy Sue” to just me, and me alone. He agreed to do that. Before he began, I asked him if I could play a couple songs for him. He agreed, and I hopped on YouTube to search for the lyric videos for two of my favorite songs about dealing with fear:
Fear is a Liar by Zach Williams
The Breakup Song by Francesca Battistelli
He watched the videos so intently, so focused on the lyrics and the message, smiled and thanked me for having him listen to them both. He sang “Peggy Sue” for me and had so much fun working on mimicking Buddy Holly’s famous inflections and hiccups. My boy asked if we could practice together a couple times each day over the following three days, until it was time to audition for the solo.
On the way to school the morning of auditions, he asked me to replay Zach Williams’ song for him. He sang along, and was upbeat and confident when I dropped him off. After school, he informed me that he was a little nervous since other kids were in the room for auditions the same time as him, but that he quickly got over it and not only tried out for Buddy Holly, but also sang for the Pinball Wizard solo as well! He thanked me for pushing him to overcome his fear, and said he was so glad he auditioned.
The performance was last week, and it was incredibly fun and full of talented fourth and fifth graders. My boy scored a non-speaking part of Ringo Starr instead of the Buddy Holly solo, but by that time, it didn’t matter. He learned something that took me thirty years to address. He was more than okay with not being the best singer in the room, so long as that decision was made by his chorus teacher, and not by Fear.
Have you allowed fear to cause you to disobey God and His plan for you? Have you found helpful ways to overcome that fear? I’d love to read about your experience on this topic, drop it in the comments if you’re willing to share!
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