One of the things you may not know about me is that I am a singer. I have been singing for as long as I remember and it's one of my favorite things. It is also one of the things that I do best next to writing and believe it or not, sometimes I even get paid to do it! I love all types of music and I have tried my hand at everything from straight up rock to hard core gospel. My all time favorite artists are Ella Fitzgerald and the Beatles. Yes - you heard right. Ella and the Fab Four. I also love Frank Sinatra and John Legend.
Although I sing all types of music, my bed and butter so to speak is Christian and inspirational music. I have consistently been singing in church in one form of another for almost 20 years. It has been a long career from which I am retiring. I am at the point in my life where I know that my dream isn't to be a famous singer, and when I record my CD, it will be for the benefit of my friends and family. From now on, it will be about the fun of singing. I am making space to focus on what I truly feel "called" to which is my writing and speaking.
Sunday was my last day of my formal "career" singing for the church I also co-founded. It was my last hurrah, my shining moment, my final blaze of glory. We were celebrating our 4th Anniversary and had many visitors as well as an internationally known guest speaker. When I woke up that morning, I was excited and raring to go. I hummed my solo as I showered, fixed the kids breakfast, and drove to church. I was still "Ready Freddy" as the guests arrived and the welcome and introductions were made. I and my singing partner led the congregation in two songs that were not that great, but I still felt pretty good knowing my solo presentation was coming. I waited patiently to be called to the podium and after reaching the front, I gave a moving (or so I thought) introduction and started my song. My friend, our Pastor had recommended the song. It was in my key, was my style and the words resonated deeply with me. In singing lingo, "I was going to tear it up!"
Surprisingly my voice was shaky and tired. I messed up the syncopation and phrasing, and flubbed the words...big time. In my mind, the more I sang, the worse I sang. The only reason why I know I didn't completely suck is because several people complimented me on my performance. I assume they were not lying...at least not all of them. It didn't matter, I knew I was terrible. However, I took the compliments with a nod and a smile.
Suck or no suck - I was disappointed. Actually, I was crushed. I could barely think about anything else for the remainder of the service and almost felt like crying as I ate my two pieces of reception cake. My husband kept trying to make me feel better by making jokes and reminding me that "it was all right". He wasn't there to hear my disaster - he had his own musical gig at another church. I wish he was there because although my husband is my biggest fan - he is completely honest. Real musicians, whether married or not - do not lie to each other. There is no, "Oh baby - you were GREAT!", but what he does provide is truthful productive insight, which I wish he was there to give. It took me hours to get over my disappointment. Let me confess, it took me over 72 hours. What's worse the song has been stuck in my head since. It is now Wednesday.
I realize that my disappointment was so great because I felt so prepared and so ready! So to go from such a "high" to such a "low" in one fell swoop was hard. I could not understand - could not wrap my head around how I could have messed up soooo badly on something I was so excited and confident about. To make matter's worse, Monday I received a rejection from a publication. It's not my first rejection, but it was a rejection of a piece that was very important to me. The disappointment was also greater coming right on the tails of my singing fiasco. It all made me wonder if I performed better when I was ambivalent. Why is it when I feel good about my work or excited and prepared I feel like I fail, and other times I throw it together and it's the cat's meow? I don't have the answer to that.
It's amazing how when we are not diligent in protecting ourselves, one relatively small disappointment can spiral into something that permeates so much more. I went from questioning my singing talent to my writing to my parenting skills. One bad song turned into my being a horrible mom. It is a testament that once the self bashing starts - its a slippery slope to unreasonable self-criticism.
Today is Wednesday, I am back in my right mind. I realize that it was one song in a line of several hundred. Some good, some bad, some awful. Even Whitney Houston has had her share of vocal issues - so if "The Voice" can keep plugging away in front of millions of people, I can get over a bomb in front of - well significantly less. Although I have officially retired from the ministry of singing, I haven't given up singing entirely. I couldn't do that anymore than I could give up my marriage or my beautiful children. Even those years where I stopped writing for myself and was feeling lost and uncertain of who I was, I still sang. It was the only form of true self expression I had left. I am simply making room for what I need to focus on during this season of my life. I will still have plenty of opportunity to redeem myself. However, this experience did make me realize that although disappointment happens to everyone, I still have some work to do ensuring that I keep a healthy perspective when I have to face it first hand.