THE CONCERT WAS TO BEGIN SOON, AND SUDDENLY I WAS OVERWHELMED with fear. Although I was a seasoned performer who had gained control over performance anxiety years before, this time was different. Fear invaded my consciousness with its barrage of negative and destructive suggestions, including intense nervousness, the shakes, and self-doubt.

Many people, especially those who have had to get up in front of an audience, know the feeling of being flooded with thoughts like these: "You are not adequately prepared; you really should have practiced this more; you are going to make mistakes"—and, the ultimate, "You are not good enough." As is the case with most fears, whether generated by illness, extreme weather conditions, a broken relationship or anything else, such fears are engendered by the thought of some disastrous outcome in a future time, in my case, the upcoming performance.

Since I usually loved to perform, these fearful thoughts were unfamiliar, and I didn't know what to do. I knew that my motive in performing was to love the audience and share my love of the music with them. But, at the moment, I was too scared even to walk out on the stage—let alone perform a Mozart flute concerto! Retreating to the greenroom (a special room reserved for the guest artist to prepare backstage), I begged God to help me. Amidst the churning of the turbulent and disturbing thoughts, an ever more persistent thought kept coming, "Eternity." I soon recognized this as an angel—a message from God.

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SUNDAY vs. SPORTS no competition!
November 14, 2005

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