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Nothing to fear

From the September 18, 2017 issue of the Christian Science Sentinel

I was in! I’d auditioned for a performing arts school and was thrilled and honored when I was accepted. At the same time, I was extremely nervous. The talent and competition in this group were intense. I worried that I wasn’t good enough and that my singing style—musical theater and classical—would prevent me from fitting in. I had watched many of my new peers’ audition videos and was amazed by their incredible “pop” voices. 

I have always loved to sing, whether it be classical, pop, musical theater, church hymns, or choral music. But even though I’d had professional vocal training and had participated in countless musicals, show choirs, and school choirs, I wasn’t confident in myself or my talent. 

Part of this stemmed from an embarrassment about my voice—because of my particular training and style. I grew up training as a musical theater and classical singer. Those styles weren’t understood or considered “popular” by many of my peers, so I was scared of being made fun of for singing in those styles. And since I didn’t feel I had the proper training to sing a pop song, I also feared singing in a more contemporary style. It was a lose-lose situation that made me feel self-conscious about singing in front of people for years.

I never shared my fear with anyone, but a few weeks before my program began, I was talking with a close family friend who is also a Christian Science practitioner, and she shared Jesus’ parable about the servants and the talents (see Matthew 25:14–30). In the parable, a man gives three of his servants money called talents. Two of the men go out, invest their talents, and multiply them. But the third man is afraid to invest his talent for fear of failure, so he fearfully buries it in the ground. When the master returns, he is pleased with the servants who invested their talents, and tells them, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.” However, he has harsh words for the man who hid his talent and gained nothing.

This parable was a huge wake-up call for me. I could see the parallel between the “talents” in the parable and my talent, singing. I realized that my fear of judgment had caused me to act like the third man who hid his talent. I wanted to be the “good and faithful servant” by understanding that all the qualities I express, including harmony, joy, and rhythm, actually come from God, so I can freely and fearlessly share them.

After this, I began thinking differently about singing. To me, singing is a way to express God, who is Soul. I knew that by sharing my voice with others, I could glorify God by expressing happiness and beauty. My vocal training and style no longer mattered; I realized that any expression of Soul is a beautiful and needed blessing.

I had a new confidence and joy about myself when I sang.

The fear, as well as any tendency to make comparisons, disappeared after this, and I was completely free to praise God—to raise my voice in song and express my God-given talent. Instead of being embarrassed by my singing styles, I learned to embrace them, and my training quickly set me apart from the other members of the group in a way that allowed me to flourish and grow. Throughout my time in the program, I was also able to sing solos and complete public auditions fearlessly—often in front of large audiences who were critically judging my performance. I looked at each audition and performance as an opportunity to bless, and every time I was filled with so much love for God and His children that I had no fear.

Near the end of the year, a close family friend told me that he had seen a huge change in me since I had joined the performing arts program. After hearing me solo in church, he remarked that I had a new confidence and joy about myself when I sang, which was reflected not only in my singing, but also in how I carried myself. I was so grateful for this and knew it was a result of the wonderful healing I’d had and the newfound clarity of thought I’d gained.

The performing arts program taught me a lot about becoming a better musician and performer, but most important, I learned how to overcome fear by expressing God and letting the beauty of Soul shine through. Now, I never feel that I need to hide my talent; I embrace every opportunity to share it with others and to improve my skills without getting caught in the trap of nerves or comparisons. As Mary Baker Eddy writes in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, “The talents He gives we must improve” (p. 6). I’ve learned that when we fearlessly embrace and use our talents, we are able to bring wonderful blessings to both ourselves and to the world.

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