My blind grandfather was a pianist and organist. He played other instruments as well, but my favorite by far was his voice. As young children, my cousins and I would all gather at the legs of his piano to hear him sing silly songs he’d made up. Or we’d sit beside him on the bench and play the game, “What Key Was That?” It was like a beautiful magic trick; you would touch a key, and he would touch that exact same one, even if done in a sequence.
He trained his children to sing, too, and was the only person who told me I could sing before he even heard me. My voice has always been a deep tenor. Once, as a child, I tried out for a school solo and actually got the part. I practiced so hard night and day, almost to the point of annoyance. The day came for my debut, and as I walked onto that stage, I froze. I lost every word with that bright light shining squarely on me, peering into the darkness of a crowd below.
Just like that, I have never sung publicly again. But each and every night, I sing to my children as they fall asleep. One child likes to hear a Bette Midler song, while another likes my rendition of Aerosmith. Lately, I’ve noticed my comfort in my voice broadening as I slowly let people hear me sing.
Have you seen the children’s movie Sing? It’s a musical and a delightful animal movie about a koala named Mr. Moon (Matthew McConaughey) who, in an attempt to save his foreclosing theater, puts on a music competition. He auditions many animals, and finally finds a group that he really feels will make this show pop! He finds an investor, and all seems to be going great until a freak accident floods his theater and turns it to rubble and rock.
Mr. Moon is crushed and defeated. He cancels the show and, by doing so, dashes the dreams of the few left standing behind him. My favorite character is an elephant named Meena (Tori Kelly). She’s big and her voice is powerful, so you’d think she would be the crowdpleaser. But just like me, she gets on the stage, ears covering her face, and loses her voice. At the end, her voice is what convinces Mr. Moon that even with no theater and no investor, the show should still go on.
The remaining performers build a makeshift theater, and each one performs as crowds begin to gather. By the end, when Meena takes the stage, you’re at the edge of your seat: will she or won’t she sing? As the curtain rises for her to come onstage, she is nowhere to be found. With Meena hiding in a corner afraid to go out, Mr. Moon grabs her large hand and says to her, “You won’t be afraid if you just sing.” She goes on stage and does just that. Beginning low and slow, she ends up joining a crowd of strangers in claps and cheers as she quite literally brings the house down with her ballad.
I have come to the point where I have, surprisingly, joined an adult choir. Early on, when it was time for me to go to choir practice, I choked. I listened to that tiny voice in my head that told me I can’t do this. Surely you’ll embarrass yourself because you’re not as good as you’ve been told you are. Just like that, I let fear dictate what I was. The fearlessly raw and relatable woman who writes these articles let one of her gifts go up in smoke.
I convinced myself that my gift was only to write. Surely I impact people spreading the gospel to those who may not know. I get satisfaction from it. Fulfillment even. But every time I sing a song to the Lord, my body is covered in goosebumps, as if the Holy Spirit is knocking down my door.
In our everyday lives, we will let fear and worry make our decisions. Don’t eat that, you will get fat. Don’t call them, they don’t want to talk to you. You can’t go to that exercise class, you’re too out of shape. We let fear negate where we go. We should all have the heart of Meena the shy elephant. As tremendous as she was when on stage, she felt smaller than a mouse. But she stepped out on that stage in faith and shined brighter than even she could have imagined.
Fear and worry cannot and should not navigate your life or mine. Safety and caution are good tools to have, but when standing in front of your dream, don’t turn away. I dare you to move! I dare you to follow your heart! See where your dreams lead you. Whether it’s owning a business or owning your talents, I dare you to take the stage in your own life.
And as Mr. Moon told Meena, “You just start singing! Do what you love, then you’ll be great, ’cause you won’t be afraid anymore, because you’ll actually be doing it.”
I dare you.
Be Safe. Be Great. Be YOU!
Reality Changing Observations:
1. What talent or gift might you have kept hidden from the world out of fear of failure?
2. How can you encourage someone in your life to follow their dreams?
3. Why do we sometimes let fear navigate our path?