RSS Feed

Category Archives: christian

Singing in Public – How to Get Over Your Fear (by someone who has done it)


No fear when my brother is near!

I’ve sung all my life. For a long time, I assumed everyone did. We all sang in my family. We sang hiking songs on the trail. We sang Christmas carols from door to door. My mom burst into song while we were shopping. (Oh, the humiliation.) My brother and I would sing rounds in the sandbox and try to throw each other off by singing our parts louder and faster until we collapsed laughing.

I have a mental image of myself standing in front of our church at 4 or 5, wearing a white choir robe with a giant red collar, my eyes huge and my face pale. Singing in public. Ugh! That was my first taste of stage fright. I loved the singing, hated doing it in public.

I had the same experience of stage fright in ballet, and gave it up after completely devoting myself to it for many years. I loved the classes, the dancing, the costumes, but absolutely hated the performances. Our recitals were held in a large city community theater which sat thousands. My teacher must have been really well known to have so many people coming to her recitals, but I wished we were in a tiny room with just our immediate families. I was not born to do anything in public.

But one day, I got sick of being so scared. I was in a small Bible study and the leader asked if we had anything to say or to share. My heart pounded so loudly I was sure everyone could hear it. I was terrified to make a sound. I was sitting in the living room of perfectly safe people, surrounded by just a few people I knew. Yet I couldn’t open my mouth.

This would happen every week. The leaders of my small group persisted. They would not let up. The expectation of “performance” completely threw me. They would ask if someone in the group would start a song. I could always think of about five different songs to choose from, I knew how to sing them, but I couldn’t get a sound to come out of my mouth. I started to think this was ridiculous. How could I be so scared of such a simple thing?

By then I had started to notice lots of people couldn’t even sing, but they still did it! Why couldn’t I sing even a few words until everyone joined in? What was I so afraid of? I remembered giving up ballet even though I loved it so much, just because of my stage fright. I decided I would get over my fears no matter what it took.

And I did.

I didn’t have anyone to teach me how, so it took me a very long time to learn the tricks I know today. I thought I’d start a series of articles and share them with you. If I help even one person avoid years and years of being so scared of doing something they love, it will be worth it!

Next week:  Someone else sings better. Why should I? Why me?


You are Beautiful

summer blog

A day of change.

I’ve been reading a lot in this blog devoted to those hurting from abuse.

I went through some dark periods as a young woman, and I wish these writers and their wisdom had been available to me then. If you are suffering, or are still scarred from your past, get thee to this blog! It’s a very healing place.

I was remembering today how hard it was, many years ago, to go overnight from a beautiful bride to a flawed, not-quite-right burden to the man I had just married. He had plenty to say about what was wrong with me, and proclaimed he was simply not attracted to me. I was devastated. I was too young and naive to call B.S. and I twisted myself into pretzels trying to make it right.

I remember going on a long walk to burn off calories and wondering how it was possible to be so “flabby” when I was tall and wore a size three. I was part angry at the sting of those words in my ear, part defensive and trying to fix it.

Now that I am older and wiser and no longer being abused and lied to, I realize there is no fixing that nonsense. Here is what I would say to my younger self:

Baloney! Why was he attracted enough to marry you and suddenly you’re all wrong??? Flabby??? Maybe he should take a look in the mirror!!! Who has been eating too much of your fine cooking, after all? Not you!!!!

Dear Reader, if you are being told you are not enough, here is what I say to you:

You are beautiful. You are enough. God made you just right. He didn’t make a mistake when He designed you. You are lovable. You are worth loving. You are just fine.

Don’t let anyone tell you different.

Codependence at the Movies

I was sitting in a movie theater last night watching the latest Brad Pitt movie, Moneyball. (Excellent baseball move, by the way!) Hubby Don and I had gotten there early and the theater was half empty. I thought I would get away with my purse and our jackets piled up in the empty seat next to me. But then just before the movie started, a lady squeezed past us, plunked down on the other side of our loaded-up chair, and asked if the seat were saved. Sigh. You know how that goes.

Normally I don’t pay attention to what the people around me say, but because of all the shuffling just as the movie was starting, I heard the lady say to her robust male companion, now seated right next to me, “Is this seat all right?” He murmured that it was. Pause. Pause. “Are you sure it’s all right?”

Oh no. I don’t know what their story is, but the self-abasing self-doubt, the tentative questioning, as if she were a blank space next to him, instead of a fellow human being perfectly capable of having her own opinion about where they sat . . . she was a People Pleaser.

The reason this sounded so familiar is that I have worked hard for years, as a mature follower of Christ, to move away from the shackles of that kind of thinking. People pleasers think we are loving, giving, and quite possibly the best Christian you can be. We are deluded.

The man sounded perfectly nice. He didn’t demand anything, he didn’t let her stew about whether she had pleased him. These urges to gain his approval were coming from inside her, not from his demanding behavior. I sensed they were in the early, polite stages of a relationship. But if they remain together a long time, her continual urges to check in with him like that will either push him to start considering himself to be above her (if he is prone to that sort of sinful pride), or he will become uncomfortable with her consistently childlike behavior.

What is her best option? Grow up. Grow up!

Paul tells us via the Colossians:

And when you were dead in trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive together with him, when he forgave us all our trespasses, erasing the record that stood against us with its legal demands. He set this aside, nailing it to the cross.

He disarmed the rulers and authorities and made a public example of them, triumphing over them in it.

Therefore do not let anyone condemn you in matters of food and drink or of observing festivals, new moons, or sabbaths. These are only a shadow of what is to come, but the substance belongs to Christ. Do not let anyone disqualify you, insisting on self-abasement and worship of angels, dwelling on visions, puffed up without cause by a human way of thinking,

and not holding fast to the head, [that’s Christ] from whom the whole body, [that’s us] nourished and held together by its ligaments and sinews, grows with a growth that is from God.

We need to grow up.

If with Christ you died to the elemental spirits of the universe, why do you live as if you still belonged to the world? Why do you submit to regulations, “Do not handle, Do not taste, Do not touch”? All these regulations refer to things that perish with use; they are simply human commands and teachings.

These have indeed an appearance of wisdom in promoting self-imposed piety, humility, and severe treatment of the body, but they are of no value, serving only to indulge the flesh. Colossians 2:13-23

If you are getting the impression, from the scripture I have chosen, that I am not in favor of such fawning, codependent behavior, you are right. As followers of Christ, we are taught in many different ways to choose a better, more grownup path.

I therefore, the prisoner in the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called . . .

The gifts he gave were that some would be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, to equip the saints . . .

That’s you and me, if we are believers.

for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until all of us come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to maturity, to the measure of the full stature of Christ.

We must no longer be children, tossed to and fro and blown about by every wind of doctrine, by people’s trickery, by their craftiness in deceitful scheming.

Don’t let anyone, not even the voices inside your head from the past, talk you out of this maturity in Christ!

But speaking the truth in love, we must grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by every ligament with which it is equipped, as each part is working properly, promotes the body’s growth in building itself up in love. Ephesians 4:1,11-16.

As we who are more comfortable serving learn to grow in maturity (and backbone!) and in having an opinion, we allow opportunity for others to grow in learning to love and to serve. All of these are what we see in Christ and learn from His example.

May we grow together in Him!

Tomboy at Heart

I was pretty much a tomboy growing up. I went camping for the first time when I was three months old. (Okay, I realize my parents had a lot to do with that!) I spent 95 percent of my time outside unless it was raining hard, and sometimes even then I put on my raincoat and rubber boots and stomped around in puddles. The only thing I regularly got in trouble for was coming home late for dinner. I would climb trees, jump the fence to wade in the creek, and play hide and seek, coming home only after it was so dark I couldn’t see my hand in front of my face.

My brother and I would tear around the neighborhood on our bikes doing wheelies and riding with no hands. Sometimes he got tired of hanging around his little sister, so I’d have to go find some girls to play with. When I was lucky, I’d find other girls who were tomboys and we’d rope my brother back in because lots of games are fun with more people.

Learning to “speak girl” was a slow and difficult process. Even freshman year of high school, well after hormones kicked in, I still went around looking like a cross between hippie and Seattle grunge, buying engineer’s overalls and painter’s paints from a uniform store and wearing my hair long and straight, parted right down the middle.

My two best friends bought me a Seventeen magazine one summer and ordered me to read it. My eyes were opened to a whole new world–makeup, grooming and fashion. I still liked to go hiking and camping, but I started to look like a girl while I did it.

Right around the same time frame, I became a Christian. Because I did a good job of disguising myself as a girly girl, I fit right in with some of the conservative teachings about how to be feminine, at least on the surface. But I was very uncomfortable. I felt like a fraud.

I would hear lectures about how women like do all the talking in relationships and feel mannish because I am less talkative than most people, less than a lot of the men in my life. I would go to church parties and get pulled into the kitchen where ladies wanted to talk to me about recipes. What? I could barely boil water. I did know how to fix barbed wire fencing on my uncle’s ranch, but that didn’t really come up in conversation.

I loved the Bible stories about King David. He was small and cute, and a lot tougher than he looked. He wasn’t taken seriously at first. But of course he was God’s chosen, and I was really just a girl.

I remember once hearing God speak to me about all the books I was reading about proper behavior for a Christian woman. I was really stressing out about it, I felt completely miserable and unable to “do the right thing.” I’m sure I was crying about it, one of the girly things I do quite freely from time to time. I heard a still, quiet voice cut through all my emotions and tell me, “Throw all those books away. Get rid of them!”

What a relief that was, but I still felt at odds with the church world around me. I loved my church world, I loved learning from the Bible, I loved singing worship songs, I loved being part of the community. But I still felt like a fraud. A pretender. A fake girly girl.

Thirty odd years later I’d like to say I’ve figured it all out, but I haven’t. I still feel like I don’t quite fit in. I have figured out a couple of things though. It’s perfectly all right for me to passionately pursue being a disciple of Christ. And I don’t need to take a class to learn how to be a woman. God made me a woman, and that’s what I am. He didn’t make a mistake, and I don’t have to correct any errors. (As if! I can’t believe I was ridiculous enough to think I had to make up for His “mistakes.”)

I wonder if there are others out there who have felt the same way?

The Upside Down Rule of Christ

Have you ever noticed Jesus does a lot of things backwards? Here he is, the Son of God, the King of Kings, and yet when he talked to people he was always calling himself the Son of Man, which basically means “The Human Being.” He totally downplayed his greatness.

And he was always telling the disciples all his secrets; how to do all the great stuff he did. He didn’t keep anything just for himself. In fact, he told them they would do even greater works themselves.

“Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father. And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask anything in My name, I will do it.” John 14:12 14 NKJ.

And just in case any of us were going to wonder later whether we qualify as his disciple, able to do all these great things, he explains that too, a few sentences later:

“ . . . you will know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you. He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him.” Judas (not Iscariot) said to Him, “Lord, how is it that You will manifest Yourself to us, and not to the world?” Jesus answered and said to him, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him.” John 14:20-23.

In other words, anyone who becomes his follower is truly his disciple. Don’t forget, his disciples healed people, even raising some from the dead. And we can be his disciples too. He withheld no important work from them, and he withholds no important work from us either. He didn’t save any special job for himself, except for the redemption of all mankind. That one he did himself!

There’s one final important way disciples must be like Jesus. I think we often forget:

But Jesus called them [his disciples] to Himself and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and those who are great exercise authority over them. Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant. And whoever desires to be first among you, let him be your slave just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” Matthew 20:25-28.

Backwards and upside down!

Submission is Like Kissing

Here is my latest article from the Sisters in Christ Jesus web site:

Some things are meant to be shared. Have you ever waved at someone who didn’t wave back? Your hand hovers awkwardly, then you put it down with a little feeling of emptiness. “He probably didn’t see me . . .”

Kissing is like that. It’s a beautiful thing when it’s mutual, an awful thing if it’s not. If the other person limply allows it but doesn’t return it, you feel foolish. If it’s forced on you unwillingly, it’s an affront or even assault. Remember the kiss of death by the Godfather? A brotherly kiss turns to murder. Or Judas kissing Jesus. Not mutual, not beautiful.

Submission, as a Christian virtue, is better two by two as well. Paul urges the Ephesians in Chapter 5, Verse 21 to be “submitting yourselves to one another.” Missionary and Theologian Bruce C.E. Fleming explains that Paul carefully uses a reflexive verb here, adding a reciprocal pronoun to spell out his meaning clearly in this verse. He then goes on to describe what that looks like for Christian wives, husbands, parents, children, and so on.

The Greek word for submission is a reflexive, modified tense of a verb that is very strong in its active tense. The Septuagint, the Greek Bible quoted by Jesus, uses this word in the Old Testament for ideas such as pledging allegiance to kings and subduing one’s enemy. In fact, God thunders to Israel through Jeremiah about slavery using this word: “But now you have turned around and profaned my name; each of you has taken back the male and female slaves you had set free to go where they wished. You have forced them to become your slaves again.” Jeremiah 34:16

Fortunately for us, God uses this word in a gentler way towards us, his beloved, in Psalm 62. “My soul finds rest in God alone; my salvation comes from Him.” Here again the word is in the reflexive tense, and like Ephesians, the context is of hope, love, provision and salvation.

“Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves,” Philippians 2:3. When done mutually, submission is a beautiful thing. Let no one experience the humiliation of having submission unreturned by their loved ones, especially beloved brothers or sisters in Christ.

“Greet one another with a holy kiss,” Romans 16:16.

© Copyright 2007 Becky Virta