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Goodbye, performance anxiety!

From the Christian Science Sentinel - August 29, 2017

From the teen series: Trending - August 29, 2017

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I should have been excited, but instead I felt scared. My choir had been invited to perform at a conference for music teachers. It was a huge honor, and most people were looking forward to it. But not me. I’ve always found performing to be scary and nerve-wracking, so I was anxious about the performance. We had a send-off concert a couple of days before, and I felt tense during the whole thing.

As God’s daughter, I could never be inadequate.

I knew I needed to deal with these feelings before the actual concert, so the night before I looked for inspiration to fuel my prayers. I was trying to find articles about healings of performance anxiety by searching JSH-Online, but none of them seemed to quite fit my need. I have found a lot of inspiration in testimonies and articles on this website on the subject of running and physical activity, so I felt frustrated that I wasn’t finding anything helpful for singing.

But then I realized that the same ideas that had helped me run freely could also help me pray about performance anxiety. I remembered an article I’d found called “The great joy of running.” It was about how ultra-marathoners are able to run a hundred miles because they love taking every stride, and they love the action of running. Rather than focusing on the finish line, they focus on the journey. I realized this related to singing, because instead of just looking forward to finishing the songs so I could get off the stage, I could love every moment of the performance. Rather than focusing on how scared I felt, I could focus on God, and all the beautiful qualities of God that I express as I sing.

I reread a few other articles after that and also the weekly Christian Science Bible Lesson. I saw a helpful theme of being enough—that as God’s daughter, I could never be inadequate. This was important, and it was all the help I needed—because when I auditioned for this choir, I felt like I had just barely made it and that everyone else was so much better than I was. But now I realized that I couldn’t be missing something essential, because each of us, as a spiritual idea, reflects all of God’s goodness. Spiritually speaking, we are always enough; we are complete. I didn’t need to change who I was in order to make a contribution to this choir.

This was the first performance that I’ve been free of nerves—and I know it won’t be the last.

On the day of the performance I felt great. I didn’t have any of the pre-concert nerves that normally seem to bother me. During the performance, I just loved singing every note. One thing my choir had talked about was connecting emotionally with the music. We sing a lot of traditional choir music, so it has religious themes. Not only was I really feeling the music during this concert, but I also felt that the songs were allowing me to verbalize my prayers.

One of the first songs we sang has a verse that says, “I cannot dance, oh Lord, unless You lead me.” During this song, my prayer was to ask God to lead me through the concert. I knew I couldn’t sing unless God led me, just as the song said. I truly felt God’s presence as I sang—I wasn’t separate from God, but one with Him.

This was the first performance that I’d been free of nerves and didn’t spend my time onstage just wanting to get the performance over with—and I know it won’t be the last. I’m so grateful for the way prayer frees us from fear.


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