Do You Sing In Church?Posted: May 8, 2012
I could be the worst singer in my small town, but when I’m in church I sing, albeit softly.
Looking around there are those who lead the songs. My mother was in the choir for over 20 years and you can hear her high notes above the entire congregation even though she is almost 70 years old. The pastor’s voice leads out the beginning of each verse to guide the flock and keep us in harmony.
Some move their lips. Others simply stand. Children fidget.
This week I was reminded of a few stories.
The first was the story of an auditorium full of people. The speaker asked “How many of you can dance?” Every single person in the room raised their hand enthusiastically. The speaker addressed a different crowd with the same question. Only a few people in the second group raised their hands.
It wasn’t that the first group was more talented. They were children. No one had told them they couldn’t dance. Thinking about this story I am reminded how often we want to do things but we don’t because we are worried about appearances. I’m guilty. I’ll sing in my car, or to my kids, but not in front of other people. I never dance unless it is a slow song. I might be saving myself a little embarrassment, but I’m also preventing myself from having fun.
That thought led me to sad one. When my grandmother sent my father to church, she told him not to sing out loud because he had a terrible voice. Could you imagine telling your child not to sing? What worse message could you send?
As years went by my dad outgrew her advice. If you are a regular here you know he sings Johnny Cash at all hours of the day and night. Fortunately he is starting to learn some new artists. Toby Keith is the latest.
Church singing also reminds me of my youngest daughter who is a lot like me. She was painfully shy when she was young. My grandfather used to say, “If it talks it’s Hallie.” That’s the way he told my girls apart. He waited for one of them to talk and then he knew my younger daughter was the silent one.
Over the years we encouraged her to participate in dance, gymnastics, anything. She was always on the sidelines until this year when she cheered for her high school football and basketball teams. I was so happy I could have exploded with joy. She traveled around in the flock of girls before competition, more nervous than I’d ever seen her, but when she stepped on the mat her smile lit up the room.
I was proud, but even more than that I was happy that she set herself free and took hold of a scary experience. The joy she felt during those games and competitions, being part of a team, giving her all, that can’t be replaced. She took a risk and in return she was blessed with memories that will last a lifetime. Since then she has tried out for other teams, really reaching for things she never would have done before. I am so proud.
Back to church. There is a reason we sing. The words remind us of an important message and singing them is a visceral celebration. Singing with passion releases so much emotion (whether you are in church or at a concert) and yet so few of us belt out the words. We save ourselves embarrassment but the price is high.
As you visit this blog remember something a friend said to me, “You wouldn’t worry what other people think of you, if you realized how rarely they do.” Don’t be afraid to join the conversation. Get off the sidelines and leave a comment or a personal message.
Today I’m inspired to learn to dance and sing and I hope you are to. Let’s shut off our inner critic and revel in the joy of setting ourselves free. If you stand next to me in church next week you might even hear me sing.