On Sunday I sang in church again. I chose to sing "I Know My Redeemer Lives," although a slightly off-kilter and dissonant, but very pretty version of it.I always loved singing in church prior to my excommunication, and I still do. It's also a nice loophole because it allows me to bear my testimony through song, which is great.
I had practiced the song on Saturday with my accompanist. She's really good. The song was a bit challenging for her at first, but I knew she's get the hang of it. She gave me some good suggestions on interpretation of the music, too, and it made the song better.
The key the song was in was a good one, but there was a certain note I was finding it difficult to place in my voice correctly (the "He LIVES" part) and hoped I would find it by Sunday.
Sunday morning my voice wasn't as up to snuff as I had hoped, and I hoped my voice wouldn't crack or sound strained.
Sunday School was quite enjoyable, and a lot of people participated in the discussion, which was about a variety of things pertaining to Paul and the Corinthians (including godly sorrow, forgiveness, and being reconciled to God), so that was nice.
The instructor really focused on God's justice being tempered with His mercy and how if any one of us actually got what we truly deserved, none of us would be worthy of the blessings and rewards God grants us, but because He loves us and is merciful and eternally understanding, we can be granted (and often are granted) far above that which we deserve.
In Sacrament Meeting the first talk was given by a return missionary. It was a good talk, although I admit to missing some of it because I was too focused on my song.
It's so strange; I'm a performer and have often performed in front of hundreds of people, and I don't get too nervous. But I always get more nervous when I sing (or when I used to speak) in church. I don't know why for sure, but I think it really has to do with the fact that not only do I want to perform well (which is a given), but I also really want to help others feel the spirit or inspire or move them, so I always feel like the stakes are higher. I suppose as an actor, I have similar motives (wanting to inspire or move people), but for some reason singing in church makes me more nervous than singing on stage.
In any case, I went up to sing the song, and I was really pleased with how easy the sound came out considering that my voice hadn't felt at its best. But it sounded good, and I was happy. As I stood up there, I felt so pleased to be there. It really did feel like a chance to share my testimony, and it felt like a gift and a privilege (one that I often took for granted when I was still a member).
My voice felt fairly effortless and well-supported. The I got to the part that says, "He lives, my kind, wise, heavenly friend...," and I couldn't continue. Emotion just overtook me, and I had to stop singing because I really felt it. Jesus is, indeed my friend, and he is beyond kind. As I sang the next phrases, "He lives and loves me to the end / He lives, and while He lives I'll sing...," my voice strangled through the tears. It was not my prettiest singing to be sure, but I also am keenly aware that it isn't about me and my performance; it's about feeling the spirit and the Savior's love, and in that I feel I succeeded. At least, I hope I did.
By the time I got to "He lives, my prophet, priest, and king," things were back on track vocally, although it was hard not to break again. I just felt so honored to be there and so grateful to be sharing my love and testimony of the Savior. When I finished, my eyes were wet, but I felt good inside.
My dear friend next gave a talk about hope, and she discussed the events of 9-11 and the tsunami in Japan (where she served her mission), and talked about how when devastating things happen, we can still find hope through the Savior. I was both happy that someone in church had brought 9-11 into it and was also happy about how Christ-centered her talk was, which sometimes I feel is lacking in some church talks.
It was a good meeting. I enjoyed the talks, and I was grateful for the opportunity to sing. After the closing hymn, several people came up to me and said they had really enjoyed the song and that they could really feel my love for the Savior. Another member wrote me a message on Facebook saying he had really loved it, especially since it was his favorite hymn, and another neighbor came up to me today while I was throwing away trash to say how beautiful she thought it was.
I don't share that out of any boastfulness. I sure hope that isn't how it comes across. I was simply pleased that people had been touched by it. I had both prayed that I would perform the song well and that it would help people feel of my testimony of the spirit, and I was grateful that my prayers were answered.
Just once I would like to get through a song in church without bawling. Like I said, I know it isn't about me. The performance isn't as important as the spirit. But as a performer, it would be nice to get through a song without breaking down. It doesn't happen often. My heart just gets so full when I sing in church, and I feel God's love so strongly, I just can't seem to compose myself.
On the other hand, I like that it gives me the opportunity to cry. I don't cry as often as I would like, and sometimes, to others, I wonder if I come off as emotionally cold. I feel I have a very sensitive spirit, but I am also a very guarded spirit and subconsciously don't seem to want to allow myself to cry. Singing in church almost always gives me the opportunity to do so, and I am grateful for that.
My show has ended. I am in town in Utah for one more week because I have an audition and I am also trying to finish last-minute cleaning so that my niece and future nephew-in-law can move into the house after I've left.
One more week before I get to spend some quality time with my husband. I am so excited and looking forward to it. I love him so much. My heart is just full.
Thanks, Heavenly Father, for giving me Jonah!