Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Lenten Reflections, part 3.

In Part 1, number 5, I wrote:

"I’ve learned I don’t feel the anxiety when I feel the presence of G-d or when I’m leading worship.  They’re just not compatible."

I felt this even when leading Easter Vigil worship on Saturday, when I was two pages into a four-page a cappella Gregorian-style Easter Proclamation.  I completely lost the tune and then stumbled over the words.

I felt a flutter of panic in my chest, took a breath, and started the line again.  I had no trouble from there on.  I should have panicked, but I just stepped right back into it and kept going.

What is it about worship that makes me feel safe?

Is it the long stretch of experience - since my first time preaching at fourteen, to music team leader at Teens Encounter Christ, to state championships in extemporaneous reading, to distributing communion bread at Homecoming worship my first year at Olaf, to co-leading the Progressive Christian Fellowship in the footsteps of wise and amazing women, to preaching a holy and uncommon welcome on the first day of my senior year, to leading devos in front of the Saint Olaf Choir, to now spending Sunday after Sunday trying to explain the stories of our faith to squirming children?

Is it the presence of loving faces around the sanctuary - parents who watch me work with and love up their kids every week, adults who've watched my leadership style change and grow, kids and youth who like me in spite of my dislike for destructive fun and my insistence on Bible study during Sunday School, friends who burst with pride and excitement to see me leading?

No question, both of these are key elements to raising my comfort level.

But I've been shopping for years - I'm no pro at it, but I've certainly got as many years experience trying on clothes as I have in public speaking and music leadership.  Yet clothes shopping is one of my primary panic attack triggers.

And as much as my worship spaces are filled with people whose love for me is evident - there are also faces of disdain or disinterest.  In most other social situations, those faces are the ones I focus on.

I can actually perceive the panic beginning - I've noticed my brain start to think "She looks bored," "He looks annoyed," "I did that wrong," and before I can even start my disable mechanisms, the circuit of repetitive thoughts shuts off.

So what makes worship different?  Why, no matter how many triggers are flipped, can I keep going with whatever I'm doing - and enjoy it - when in all other cases I'd be two seconds from a meltdown?

1 comment:

  1. I know exactly what you mean. I get so very nervous when playing solo organ, but yet in worship I can do it much more comfortably and enjoy it much more than I do a solo recital.