I can belt out a song, toss my head around, throw my arms up and dance, and never worry about what I look like or sound like… when it’s in my car, in my shower, or in a large crowd at a concert. However, when I am singing in church for some reason, there are moments where I tend to be self conscious. When I feel this way, it’s as if I have this imaginary marque running through my mind telling me, “People around you will laugh at your singing. They will think you are a fake if you raise your arms and move in worship. They will smell your coffee breath.”
Haha! The things we worry about!…Or maybe it’s just me.
Remember those elementary school music programs? Those music programs where you stood on stage in your best outfit with all of your classmates? Standing on stage as your family and the entire school watched in anticipation?
And what I remember is this: I was that one, the one that “mouthed the words” or at the very least, whispered the words. I was that one, the one who hung my head down in embarrassment. I was that one, the one who stood frozen like a statue. I have done that at times in church too- Worried about how I look and how I sound.
Have you ever found yourself doing that, too?
A music program now seems unimportant to me compared to the singing I do in moments of prayer and worship. A music program has an audience of many who wish to enjoy and appreciate the music and their loved ones who are singing on stage.
When we sing in prayer and worship, however, we are singing for an audience of one. We are showing our honor and thanksgiving to the Lord… Not the music. Not for our performance. Even so, sometimes I put myself right back as a child on that stage in the music program.
When I find myself “mouthing the words” or pushing down my words into a whisper while in worship, I have to remind myself that Satan is just telling me lies. Telling me lies that my voice is not worthy enough for the Lord. Telling me lies that I am not worthy enough to express my joy and praise to the Lord. Telling me lies that I look like a fool by moving for the Lord. Telling me lies that my worship matters more to others than it matters to the Lord.
This is pride happening here- when I listen to those lies. I am worried about my performance rather than the praise I give to the Lord. I am worried more about what others think of me instead of what the Lord thinks. I am worried about what I look like… Or what I smell like! As crazy as that sounds.
But it is not a crazy sound to the Lord. He does not hear our off pitch or shaky voices. He does not see us as looking silly… Or smell our morning coffee or onion breath from the omelet we had from breakfast! He is just glad to see that we are honoring and praising Him. That is a truth we must put on the marque in our minds. The difference between singing on stage in a music program or being a fan at a concert is when we we sing in prayer and praise to our Lord, our singing and motions become worship. When we worship the Lord through song, we are praying to Him… praising and honoring Him.
It is easy to say that, but more difficult to do that… especially in the moment. We are human, and we get stage fright that’s for sure.
So what do we do when we find ourselves listening to the lies? We ask the Holy Spirit for help in that moment. We tell Satan, in that moment, that we have the same power that raised Jesus- inside of us. We put our focus on the Lord in that moment. We do not condemn ourselves for the type of praise we are giving the Lord, as long as we are giving Him praise and thanksgiving.
We are all on different journeys in our faith. I came to realize that condemning myself for mouthing or whispering the words or for standing like a statue is a lie too.
I am on my own journey, and this is what I have learned about myself in song: I can belt out a sound now and sway to the music, but if a song is not grabbing me, if I have a cold, or if a new song is introduced at church, I may feel even more self conscious. So I tell myself, “It’s okay to mouth the words. It’s okay to stand like a statue,” And I do not condemn myself for it.
When I mouth the words, I am reminded that I can still praise and honor the Lord in that moment. I am reminded that I have the power to ask the Lord to breathe life and song into my heart. I am reminded that I can ask the Lord to give me the confidence to sing out loud. I am reminded that the Lord gives me grace, even in my hesitation. I can be reminded that it isn’t about me. It’s about the Lord. I can be reminded that it’s okay to mouth or whisper the words and honor and praise the Lord in that.
What does that look like for me?
It looks like eyes wide open.
It looks like articulating every word,
Even in silence
Or in a whisper.
It looks like mouth stretched,
And moving at its utmost ability
Even when I am void of sound.
It looks like smiling in between
It looks like love,
And praise to the Lord.
When our journey of faith and worship through song lands at a place where we feel the urge to belt out a song, toss our heads around, throw our arms up and dance, even around other people (even with coffee breath;), we will feel the presence of the Lord in a much deeper way. When we can get to that place, all of us… together…that is the kind of gift of joy and celebration that we will share and receive. It’s the kind of gift we all can give back to the Lord.
And the Lord will gladly accept our gift of joy and celebration, too…
Every Moment Of Every Day.
-Em O. Ed