Remember puberty? I’ll bet you do. I like to call it The Great Transition. Everything changes about us, and our souls are left to adapt to the weirdness.
The worst part about it for me was the voice. I mean, come on! If the awkwardness wasn’t bad enough already, my voice took it the extra mile and made everything sound more awkward than it already was! How rude of my body to rebel on me like that!
Interestingly, my passion for singing and songwriting began not long after teenagedom. What a horrid combination! By the time I came to the place I actually wanted and needed my voice, it failed me! But that was okay, and I’ll tell you why.
For most of my primary, and spats of middle and high school, I was bullied. I was bullied for no reason, nearly relentlessly. When I got to the back half of high school, things slowly subsided. After all, upperclassmen need to look good, so why be a bully anymore? That being said, in parallel to the bullying, I had been asked again and again by my elementary choir director to sing vocal solos. I had nothing of it, though, and the same was true in middle and the beginning of high school. I was way too shy, and I had learned to be so because everything I loved until that point, no matter if it was as serious as a friendship or as miniscule as a television program, was mocked. My physique. My personality. My intelligence. My preferences. Why should my voice be any different?
It wasn’t until my sophomore year of high school that I was forced to audition for a vocal solo, and it wasn’t until I’d faced that fear of being nothing more than a bad joke. Then, I had nothing left to lose. It was do or die. Even though as a result I was selected to represent my school at a state competition, I didn’t place. But I didn’t care anymore. Ground was broken, and so was my shell. I was going to do this. I was going to be a vocalist.
Soon after, the woman who coached me for the competition became my full-time vocal coach, and really a mentor. I had someone to turn to who took me seriously, and I needed that so badly. Until that point, I’d been either insulted or ignored. In turn, the natural extrovert that I am shut off the world, because it was safer that way. But this person who actually invested time in me changed all that. By developing and believing in my voice as something of value, that began to bleed into the rest of my life. The things for which I once was ridiculed now had meaning.
Ultimately, her influence led me to decide to follow Christ beyond acknowledging Him as God and the Bible as His word. By believing I was worth something to someone else, I began to realize that the same must be true of God. If He created good, He must also be good… but despite learning I was valuable, I knew I was bad, which led to a true repentance that I had never experienced before, a level less obligatory to live on than the one I was used to. It was no longer about what I was supposed to do. It became about wanting to pursue Christ.
Once I’d put my faith in Jesus, I began a journey of realizing how awesome He is and how awesome it would be if I could be more like Him, though I know I’ll never be Him. That was me as a beginner believer, but someone starting out in the arts experiences a similar phenomenon, and I think that’s part of why my love for music and my desire to follow Christ are so intertwined. As beginner musicians, we have a tendency to sometimes try to imitate the voice of our favorite vocalist. Intentionally? Yes, and no. Yes, because we look up to them and want to sing as well as them. No, because it isn’t our intent to be exactly like them… or is it, and is that the reason why we change our voices when we sing their songs?
What about your voice? Yeah, sure, maybe their technique is good, and you could stand to learn from that, but your voice is inherently unique. Are you changing that when you sing? Do you realize it when you do change it? Do you really want to change it, or would you rather find your true voice?
The most beautiful thing about creation is that even though we are not God–and we were never really meant to be–He made us good. He made us to be with Him, and that is very good. He made us good, even though we aren’t Him, and that’s okay! He never asked us to do His job. Never. Never ever. He just asks us to follow Him in sincerity, in Spirit, and in truth. Be yourself. Be real. Be who you were made to be. Hold nothing back from Him. He want’s to see you at your best, not obliterate you when you hit a wrong note. So sing. God is listening.