In Justin Stoney’s new book, Sing Like Never Before there’s a chapter where he talks about practicing singing without actually singing.
Practicing singing doesn’t just mean practicing high notes…
It means toiling at trust, when you’ve been working at worry.
It means honing your hope, when you’ve been deepening your doubt.
It means laboring to love yourself, when you’ve been studious at self-sabotage.
These words and ideas have stayed with me during this time. And if you’re like me, you’ve found yourself experiencing a range of emotions. I’ve been angry, I've been sad, I’ve been fearful, I’ve been annoyed, I’ve enjoyed aspects of this time, I’ve been sick of it, and I’ve been concerned with who to trust.
I don’t know what you’re experiencing right now. Whether you’re just enjoying the free time, if you’ve lost your job and you don’t know what’s coming, if you’re afraid of getting sick and not making it, if you’re afraid or angry over the politics about all of this. Whatever it is for you, we’re all experiencing different things, similar things, and the same things.
Personally, I’m not sure about anything in this situation. Though I have my opinions, I certainly don’t have the answers. And, whoever’s reading this, you probably don’t either. But regardless of differing opinions, I believe we can have the same goals.
How? How can those who are filled with fear for different reasons have the same goals?
I'm thinking of those who are filled with fear because of the virus, and those who are fearful because they don't want to be controlled. Those are the two big camps that I'm seeing. And when something doesn't go the "right" way in each person's camp, then the fear, anger, depression, slander, bitterness, it all ripples it out. And if we take a step back and look at the big picture, very quickly we can see how the virus isn't the only thing that's spreading that we need to be concerned about.
Regardless of which "Fear Camp" you're in, both have the same root. The fear of what's next. Fear of what the future holds. For this, and many other reasons, I don't think we need to be in separate camps. Because really, deep down we know that tomorrow is in our control just about as much as any “tomorrow” was before this whole thing started. And the future will be as much in our control when all of this ends. We can only do our best, do the next right thing, and move forward.
Which brings me back to the quote I mentioned. Where do you find yourself spiritually during this time? Where does your mind go? Where are you letting it go? And, how are you responding to the different camps of fear?
Are you “working at worry”?
Or are you “toiling at trust”, believing that we can get through this?
Are you “deepening your doubt”?
Or are you “honing your hope”, believing that when the time is right things will
be back to normal?
Are you being “studious at self-sabotage” or even studious at sabotaging others?
Or are you “laboring to love yourself” even when you’re not doing quite
as well as you’d hoped?
And loving others, even when you disagree?
Are you letting rage run rampant?
Or kindling your kindness and guiding with gentleness?
I’ve asked myself these questions and had to stop myself many times. Because my opinions, my anger, and my worry simply weren't helping.
I've seen angry facebook rants, bitter twitter posts, opinion after opinion, purposefully coughing on people in public, being vindictive towards non-mask wearers etc. etc. etc. I think we can all agree these angry responses don't help.
I'm believing that if we can all toil at trust a little longer, hone our hope, and do what we can to help and not hurt, we can all get through this time with more peace, more love, less people dying, and so many other good things.
We can invite more good into this challenging season. But this invitation, and the ripple effects, is up to you.
Regardless of what you choose, it will ripple out. And this will either be harmful or helpful.
The Biblical definition of Hope is not thinking that something good MIGHT happen. Instead, it’s a “confident expectation of something good”. When I learned this, so much changed for me. Instead of expecting negative things, I began to expect the good. What happened then? I inevitably began to see the good that was already there. And, of course, that had ripple effects, creating even more goodness.
My hope in this is that I believe what evil in this world means for harm, God will redeem. There is darkness, fear, and death all around us. But don't let this pull you down. All it wants to do is pull you down. But, there is hope. Today, hone your hope.
Difficult times, unprecedented times, our lives being interrupted, these are inevitable. No matter how much we try to avoid it, interruptions happen. Huge interruptions, small interruptions. Joyful interruptions, and painful interruptions. They will come. This is certain. But how we handle these situations is not certain.
Push through with trust, hope, and love. Once it’s over we’ll be even more prepared for the next “interruption” whether it’s the whole world or whether it’s just in our own lives. Be encouraged, be wise, be at peace.
Toil at your trust.
Help, don't hurt.
Do the next right thing.
Someone out there needs your love,
and your hope.
Be ready to give what matters most.
Thank you for reading :)
Love & Light,
My husband, Justin Stoney, is launching his book this year! Sing Like Never Before is a book for singers and voice teachers alike. A creative look at vocal pedagogy, making vocal technique and singing concepts easy to grasp and apply. I've read it, many times, it's AMAZING. And, super fun. Visit SingLikeNeverBefore.com to sign up for book updates. :)