My Sunday experience yesterday was fraught with learning, emotional and spiritual growth.
We are in a new ward. They actually have a choir! That people come to and sing in and they like it! So, Muad'Dib and I packed up our children and went to join the choir at 11am.
It was a great little choir. There were people who could and DID sing EVERY part. Even the men. They were great!
I listened to the choir director, and just sat there thinking, "I like her. I like her a lot." Then thought to myself that I shouldn't group people before I know them. So I tried to wait to like her, instead of liking her instantly.
She announced to us that we had a song where a real soprano was needed. The director (whose name I still don't know) automatically asked me to sing it, before we even began singing. I said I could, so on we went. Then we got to that part and I hit the note. Softly and without much power, but it was early and we had no warm up and I was sitting. But I still hit it. We finished and without even a "good job" or anything, she asked if anyone else wanted to sing that note. Someone raised their hand and said they could do it if she wasn't sick.
Now, here's what I believed to have happened:
I sang the note. The director cringed inside at either my pitch or my lack of vocal power. She realized that the choir would suck if she allowed me to sing it. So she asked if anyone - ANYONE - else could do it better than me. And someone else, also who had cringed inside, raised their hand and decided to take one for the team. She may not be the best, but she was at least better than this new girl.
Throughout the rest of choir practice, I tried to fight the feeling. The feeling of failure and unappreciated-ness. I was reminded of high school choir where my voice was all ways too much and at the same time never enough. My dear daughter, picking up on this feeling, began to act up. I began to mask my true feelings with that emotion which comes most naturally to me: anger. It was hard to combat the true feeling and the mask of the feeling at the same time.
We went home and let Rivulet sleep for an hour between choir and church. Then we woke her up and went back. She was too grumpy to go to nursery, so she came to RS with me. And who seemed so excited to see me (late as I was) and even pointed me over to the seat next to her? The choir director. She and I made comments all through RS, up until River could take it no more. No doubt she again was picking up on my hurt and confusion. This woman was so kind and obviously liked me. So did she feel guilty, or what?
Then I remembered last week's lesson in this new ward: Take No Offense. I had even contributed and made comments. While walking with Rivulet through the halls between RS and Sunday school, I reflected on the lesson and what - if anything - I had learned.
*"Assume everyone loves you. That way, it is easy to realize that they MEANT you no harm." *"If you believe someone hurt your feelings, go talk to them. I would always want someone to ask me to clarify."
*"Being over sensitive causes some to take offense."
*"Hearing what we THINK they meant, rather than what they actually SAID."
The lesson was riddled with fantastic insight from all manner of women in this little room. The first one was mine, by the way. And the oversensitive: that was the choir directors. It's impossible to believe that these comments were made simply to be forgotten. So now enter Sayyadina exercising WISDOM:
RS let out, and I went to the choir director. I told her how I had taken lessons for years, but had not seriously worked on my voice for over five. She commiserated for a moment and I realized this conversation was not going to go where I needed it to without just sucking it up and talking about it. So I asked her if she remembered the lesson last week. She said yes. I said, "Well, I know that you gave no offense, but I took some. And rather than assume it's what you meant to do, I just want to ask if I am good enough."
I know. It's a loaded question and it was probably not the best way to say it, but that's what came out.
She started laughing at me.
I was startled. It was a good natured laugh. It was kind. It was like two friends sharing a joke. "You're kidding, right?"
"To tell you the truth, I'm a little insecure. Right after I hit that note, you asked if anyone else could do it. What I heard was that you thought I couldn't."
Her face tried to be serious, but she couldn't muster it. "Do you know the look that all sopranos get when one soprano hits a high note?" I remembered the look - having made it myself a few times in High School. "Every soprano, after hearing you sing was giving me that look. I had done it wrong in the first place. We had never sung that song before and without even singing it through once, I gave it to the new girl. The other women looked hurt. I had no intention of letting you think you weren't good. The first thing I thought was, "Yay! There's someone who can sing the same range I can!"."
Notice that she never came right out and said, "Oh no, you are the best, you rock the vocal world" or all that sort of thing that people THINK make an insecure soprano feel better. She just told me the truth of the situation, and it spoke for itself. Honestly, I knew it was not the best I could sing, it certainly wasn't the best I could sing that note. I think she knew that. It turned out to be an awesome conversation. Not because I had fished for compliments and then lined my catch up on the deck (in fact, most of her compliments were for Muad'Dib) but her telling me the truth made a big difference in my day. I realized that I was right to like her instantly. She did compliment me for talking to her about it. She said, "Wow, if that's what you really thought, I'm surprised you came back today." We all know I'm not one to shy away from confrontation when I believe good will come of it.
Then we had a lesson in Sunday School coming from Mosiah4: 5-12. The concept that we all got hung up on for the majority of the discussion was the idea of mans "own nothingness." The teacher seemed to be trying to get us all to believe we were "worthless." Many others in the room were going along with that. I simply couldn't. Not at face value. Reading those scriptures, it seemed that Mosiah was not asking us to hate ourselves into humility, but to recognize the greatness of the Hand of God in our salvation and rather than thinking we are "nothing" to know that we are nothing without HIM. And to then reach toward Him. It turned out to be a great little discussion about the worth of a soul, the worth of man and understanding that we can't take a single line out of context and expect it to carry the same message with it. To become "awakened to a sense of your own nothing ness, of your worthless and fallen state" is entirely different when read with the entire quote.
"the knowledge of the goodness of God at this time has awakened you to a sense of your own nothingness, and your worthless and fallen state."
So, the day was awesome. Again.