On the things that scare you

Eleanor Roosevelt said, “Do one thing every day that scares you.” I love the concept behind that quote. The sentiment is not unlike James 1:2, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds…,” though I think on many day’s Eleanor’s words are a bit easier to live by.

That said, I don’t follow that advice exactly. I mean, my driving used to be a little scary, and I do that on a  mostly daily basis… ahem. Anyway, this weekend I got the opportunity to do something that I’ve wanted to do for awhile.

Some people are surprised when I tell them I used to be very, very shy. (I still am, but it manifests itself a little differently.) I used to never sing in front of anyone. Ever. Sometimes my dad would hear me sing, but beyond that, I didn’t sang for anyone. For years, I longed to join the choir. But I was too nervous to try and join!

Somewhere along the line, that changed. I realized I loved singing when I was around sixteen, through going to a church where we belted out songs on Sunday, joyfully, I began to find a louder singing voice. In the car, I sang all the time. I’d get stuck on voices that I loved: Ben Folds, Neko Case, Sheryl Crow (especially that first album), Fiona Apple– and play certain songs over and over again, memorizing the feel and inflection of them.

When I escaped to the wilds of Maine for my first summer, we had to lead singing after meals and during worship on Sunday mornings. Gulp. By the end of the summer, I was loving it, and was often first to volunteer if there was a gap in the schedule.

This was also where I was opened up to the wonderful world of harmony. On a kayak trip up the Kennebec, two sisters taught me a simple song, and we sang it as we floated upstream, surrounded by craggy rocks and bald eagles. I was immediately hooked. Later, my friend Bethany slowly, patiently taught me to hear harmony, how to pick it out, ignoring all my terrible first attempts. I set two goals that summer: to someday soon be able to sing in harmony with other voices, without the radio, and to be less shy singing together with people more often. God blessed that as I was living with the Ashbaughs at that time– Laura and I spent many a time seated at her piano (she was also very patient with me figuring out the whole harmony thing), singing worship songs.

This week, after a couple of practice sessions at the Kuk Coffee House, Becky, Candice and I sang The Chain by Ingrid Michaelson together. It was beautiful, and so much fun. And it accomplished two things: a goal set two years ago, and my scary thing for the day.

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