It’s been more than a year since I sang in church.
I’m not talking about the solo-from-the-stage sort of singing. It’s been years since I was that brave. That sort of confidence is long gone.
These days I stand in the crowd, arms crossed, subtly bouncing to the rhythm of worship.
I may stay tight-lipped but I could never be totally still. I’m a mover, a dancer, a beat-keeper. Even long after the song service is over I sit and my heels tap out the melody of the last song well into the sermon.
My husband doesn’t sing either but his reasons are different than mine. He doesn’t worship in song. He worships in quiet, with a mountain and a pair of binoculars.
But I do, worship in song. I connect deeply, emotionally to music. And that’s what keeps me from singing.
Because if I open my mouth, if I join the chorus of worn and wrestling worshipers, if I dare speak aloud the lyrics on the screen, I’m likely to cry. It might be a controlled well, it might be a slow drip, or it might be the ugly-faced sort of abandon, but the tears will eventually come.
It’s the same reason I don’t close my eyes during prayer. There’s something innately vulnerable about giving up your sight. And vulnerable is what I’m avoiding.
But as long as I keep my mouth firmly shut and my eyes open, I can compartmentalize, I can distract myself from surrendering in this place full of people I don’t really know, save myself the salvation and embarrassment of really feeling.
Because the truth is I often feel a little too much. And it’s all swimming there right under the surface.
So I ponder the words to each song, because it’s as far as I can commit to them. I focus on the lyrics as they scroll, eyes slightly squinted, forehead subtly scrunched like this is high school and God is a math problem.
And eventually it’s all over and can finally sit and breath a little easier, relax. Put my mask firmly back in place.
On a good day, by the time the service is over, when I’ve collected the little ones, and visited the coffee counter, I can mingle and pretend like it never happened at all.
Then I go home where I have a little more room and privacy to sing, to dance, to wrestle with God.