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The Stories We Tell Ourselves

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The Stories We Tell Ourselves

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I’ve been thinking a lot about stories recently. Primarily, the stories we tell about ourselves and others that shape our reality. These stories can either expand or limit what we can achieve in our minds. This is true for individuals, groups, classes and a  choir. Allow me to share my story about joining the Ambassador Bible College choir, and for that matter, singing in a choir for the very first time ever!

When my husband and I decided to come to Ambassador Bible College, it was a big undertaking. I had to quit a job I loved, and we had to pack up our stuff, say goodbye to our family and friends and drive over 2,400 miles across the country. We had to find housing, get the pets ready, prepare and plan savings to live on, change Feast plans, find a part-time job and basically uproot our entire comfy life to make this dream a reality. During all this planning and preparation, there was one thing that sat consistently at the top of my “worry” list. Was it the packing? The move? Putting my career on hold? Nope. It was the very real possibility of joining a choir.

I had heard: “everyone joins the choir at ABC,” and this was a looming, intimidating monster in my mind, waiting to get me the second I wasn’t watching. You see, I knew I couldn’t sing. I couldn’t carry a tune in a bucket, and the only possible description of my singing would be a generous comment of a “joyful noise” during Sabbath song service. This was the story I had in my head, the one I had told myself my entire life, and the one that was on repeat as I made my preparations for ABC.

I was worried about being forced into it. I was worried about making a fool of myself. I was worried about being humiliated by being kicked out once they discovered my lack of any talent. So much worry. So, with this narrative on repeat in my brain, I simply decided that choir was the one thing I was not going to do at ABC. I closed off that part of my heart to “a new experience.” So there, it was settled. Whew! With this newly defined boundary safely in my mind, I set out to enjoy my year at ABC.

Then something quite unexpected happened. As I started those first few days of class and met everyone, my stony heart started to soften about choir. The story quietly started to change in my mind. My classmates and instructors were so welcoming and kind. This was a year for adventure and possibility!

Quite suddenly, choir tryouts were scheduled, and I remembered that I didn’t want to look back over my ABC year and have any regrets. Still confident in my knowledge that I couldn’t sing, I told myself, “I will try it out, then I can say I tried.” I filled out the paperwork they requested by simply writing “I’m terrified.” Then the actual day to sing was upon me! The tryout was a blur—Chad Browning and Mr. Shoemaker asked me to sing a few notes and match the piano—and they then proclaimed that I was a soprano. Wait, what? You have got to be kidding me!

With that sudden proclamation, I was in the choir. Those first few practices were immensely scary, and I came close to tears every practice. But slowly, as those around me sang and laughed and smiled, I felt safer. My story about choir began to transform into something new, something hopeful, something possible. As we sang together and grew together each week, my confidence slowly grew. I could hit notes that I thought were impossible before, I could sing louder and not be ashamed to be heard (even when I made those inevitable mistakes). I could even encourage others who were feeling nervous too. The story I told myself about my classmates was that “you were on my side,” and that was true. We are all on each other’s side. Choir is a huge trust fall. We have to put ourselves out there and firmly believe that our fellow singers will “catch” us. Only when we work together does something beautiful happen. Harmony. Melody. Praise!

As our first performance ended, I remember being so enthusiastic and joyful to sing all together. We did it! We were able to give an offering of song! This was an amazing moment that I will hold in my heart forever. Something that I once told myself was an insurmountable challenge was now a beautiful reality in praise to God.

As I write this, we are over halfway through the school year and I’m happy to report that I love singing in choir. It is one of my favorite parts of the week. With the choir tours on the near horizon, I know we have a lot of work yet to do and more to give in our praise and singing, but I’m confident that we will continue to grow together and truly be able to offer more than just a “joyful noise.”

God is writing our story day by day. He is working everything together for our good, that we may glorify Him. He’s given each of us gifts to glorify Him, but we must be willing to use them. And He’s already told us the ending of our story—we will be His Spirit-born children! Thankfully, the story He tells about us is reality and will be here before we know it.

I hope that by me sharing my story of joining choir, you may remember that your stories become your truth and the truth is that you can do more than you ever imagine if you keep a soft heart and trust God!