If You Can’t Sing Good… Sing Loud
My dad is kind of famous in our community for his quirky, off-beat, dry-humor sayings. I can’t count the number of times he has ushered guests to the door after a night of fellowship with the off-handed comment, “Well, you can’t come back if you don’t leave.” Or the number of meals that he has pronounced to be “pretty good garbage” or number of mornings that he has stared at me intensely when I come out of my room with messy hair and puffy eyes, only to ask, “And Rachel, how did your sleep find you?” He’s even thought up the perfect thing to say after listening to a three-year-old whine and huff for three minutes straight about some melodramatic but highly insignificant matter: “Mmhmm. I see. And how does that make you feel?” (The answer? Nine times out of ten it’s a blank face–Three year olds don’t deal well with psychiatric questions)
But I think the most popular dad-ism is one that he claims he borrowed from a high school buddy of his. It’s my dad’s answer to half of our predicaments. Every time we come to him saying, “Daddy, I don’t know if I can do this,” or “Daddy, I don’t think I’m good enough,” he’ll just look at us, shrug, and say, “Well, if you can’t sing good, sing loud.”
For years, that answer puzzled me. I’m one of those very logical, facts-based people, and I couldn’t rationalize any correct syllogisms to explain the validity of this statement. It didn’t make any sense at all. Common knowledge told me that people who are not good at singing should not be belting out notes at the top of their lungs. That would not be doing the rest of us a favor at all. And I wasn’t about to give 110% to something that I wasn’t good at. I was too prideful, too cautious for that.
And so I mouthed the words under my breath and avoided social encounters and basically kept away from anything that was even remotely close to the outside limits of my comfort zone. I played it safe. Until one day, I was standing at my cousins’ church doing my usual quietly-singing-the-low-notes-and-faking-the-high-ones thing, when I heard this woman across the room just letting it all out. Singing so loudly that I could hear her voice over the entire choir, belting her heart out in praise to her Savior. Her face was radiant–she was completely happy and one hundred percent sincere. It was really something.
And then it hit me–why isn’t that me? Why am I so afraid of others’ opinions and judgments that I’m not willing to give something my all, even if I’m not necessarily gifted at it? So what if I can’t sing? Why should that stop me from joining in praise just as loudly as that woman across the room? In other words, I may not sing good, but why am I not singing loudly anyway?
Yep, I definitely had one of those moments that parents dream of, where their words of flash across their children’s minds in some kind of life-altering experience. If my life was a movie, there would have been a slow-motion flashback montage thing going on right then. Sadly though, my life is not a John Hughes production, and it was a relatively small moment in the big scheme of my childhood experience. However, I did learn something very important that day.
I learned that I don’t have to always be good at everything I do. I learned that it’s okay to sing off-key and make mistakes and be imperfect. But I also realized that being imperfect is never an excuse to not do your best. It’s not okay to be so afraid of others’ opinions that I forget to sing loudly in life. To chase my dreams and try new things and keep going even when I feel discouraged.
I’m probably never going to be a great singer. I’m never going to be great at a lot of things. But, you know what? I’m okay with that. I really am. And if you ever went to church with me now, I hope you’d see me singing with a big smile on my face. Because I serve a God that doesn’t mind my imperfections, but loves me in spite of them. I have all of eternity to sing like an angel. I intend to make the most of my limitations now, and always sing loudly, even if it ain’t too good.
P.S. If you have a minute, you should check out this amazing blog entry written by my reader Sarah after she read this post. It definitely brought tears to my eyes which is a BIG DEAL.