Thursday, September 1, 2011

Scrambled Song

By Heather Gearhart

A few months ago, Taylen, my 10-year-old daughter, was asked to sing a solo for our church. Taylen has been singing with the children’s choir for many years. She has had small solo parts within the choir many times and participates in a competition choir and talent show at her school. Taylen is no stranger to the stage, has a beautiful voice and nerves of steel.

In the days leading up to the performance, she practiced every chance she got. We kept the CD in the car and sang with it every time we drove. She practiced without the music while getting ready. She attended rehearsals with the choir director where she was instructed to smile, make eye contact with the congregation and stay at the microphone until the last note was played on the piano. She was ready.

Before she walked on to the stage I reminded her to smile and we said a quick prayer about the performance. I know for certain that I was more nervous than she was. I glanced around the congregation with pride in my heart. My little girl was about to blow the socks off these people.

As she stepped up to the microphone, she glanced down at the sheet music in front of her. She looked up at me and smiled, just a bit. Then, the music started. Taylen started to sing. The notes flowed through the air melodically and perfectly pitched. Perfectly pitched, melodic, incorrect words. Somehow she had started with the chorus instead of the first verse. She realized her mistake right away but couldn’t correct it.

She stopped singing for a moment and listened to the music, trying to figure out which words she should sing. The pianist kept right on playing. Taylen chose another verse. It was still the wrong one. She had the tune right but the words came out jumbled and disorganized. She stood there for what seemed like an eternity. As the song came to a close Taylen dropped her eyes and stood still until the very last note was played. From the back of the sanctuary I could see her chin quivering.

Taylen hurried down the side aisle and collapsed silently into me. Heavy sobs shook the pew as she tried to hide her tears behind my shoulder. We quickly made our way out the side door and into the nursery. I held my precious daughter with her wounded pride. I whispered to her how proud I was of her, and that very few 10-year-olds would have the nerve to stand up there in front of the crowd.

It turned out, that wasn’t the problem. She was embarrassed, of course. But her main concern was that she hadn’t delivered the message the song had intended. Taylen wasn’t as upset about forgetting the words in front of everyone as she was disappointed that her words didn’t illustrate God’s message.

Luke 8:16 (ESV) tells us, “No one after lighting a lamp covers it with a jar or puts it under a bed, but puts it on a stand, so that those who enter may see the light.” She wanted to show God’s message in the best possible light. Her scrambled up version of the song didn’t do that, or so she thought.

That little girl, declaring her faith to her heavenly Father overwhelmed me and many others in the church that day. I had worried about her dress being clean and her hair being brushed. I fretted over her smiling and making eye contact. It wasn’t a show to her. She was truly making a joyful noise to the Lord. It was a declaration of love from a child to her Father.

Worship is not about performance or production. It isn’t about looking good or wearing our “Sunday best.” It’s about each of us shining our light in a darkened world with our God given talents. Taylen taught me the lesson of a lifetime through her scrambled song. We shouldn’t worry about being perfect or getting it just right. Sometimes a scrambled song is just what someone needs to hear.

Heather Gearhart lives in southwest Virginia with her husband of 16 years and their exuberant 11- year- old daughter. She enjoys spending time with her family and friends. Heather has a master’s degree in long-term care administration, works for a non-profit retirement community and enjoys writing fictional faith romances in her free time.


kaarenjean said...

What an amazing story by a mother of a couragous young lady. Sometimes, I wish I had the ability to understand that I have a message to others in everything I do. There are times when my actions and words aren't always honoring to God. I will commit myself to living a life "on purpose" so that I don't "scramble" the God I want to represent to others. I pray that I am as confident as the young girl in this post! Thank you Proverbs 31 Ministries to blessing my life!