Judging from the amount of praise we get after our performances, I think we do okay, even as our numbers dwindle, and we don't get around as much as we used to. Often I hear people wondering aloud how we can stand up and perform like we do. They wonder if our lives lend themselves to performing without a care in the world, or at least that's how we appear to them, anyway. Speaking as an introvert with almost crippling stage fright, and way too many personal things going on to count, I'd like to offer at least a partial answer to that question.
"I sing because I'm happy,"
Right now, I have every right to be in the middle of a nervous breakdown. One child completely unmotivated and making no progress, another having fairly serious socio-emotional issues, stagnant job mobility or opportunities, serious financial issues that might soon see me tossed out of my apartment despite starting a second job, and unless I am willing to pay a professional, damn near no one to talk to. And I know for a fact that I am not the only one going through serious difficulties right now. Yet, I can still say that I am happy. Regular prayer gives me just the release valve I need, right when I need it most. Not prayer in the sense of asking that my issues be resolved for me, so much as venting, and grasping to understand at least some of it. I have rarely not come away with the understanding that nothing is forever, not even issues. One child will eventually find a direction, the other will grow out her issues, and even if the financial issues don't get worked out in enough time to save this place (bad decisions made out of desperation do come back to haunt you), this won't be the first time I've had to move during bad circumstances. I am not the only person to have ever gone through these things, and people do understand. I am not alone, although it might look that way from the outside. My happiness is not based on a lack of want, so much as it is based on the knowledge that everything ends, good, bad or otherwise. Which leads to:
"I sing because I'm free,"
We have an interesting concept of freedom here in the US. We celebrate our own freedom while sometimes actively denying it to anyone who holds a different viewpoint from our own. This is not true freedom in that you are creating a hate that will make it hard for the next person to exercise their freedom. I speak here of the Christians that mistreat anyone they feel is beneath them, either because they are not a Christian at all, or they feel that that person is not Christian enough. If your practice of Christianity involves condescension, or belittling someone else's beliefs or lack there of, here's a hint: Christianity - You're doing it WRONG! Christianity is not an ego driven quest to make everybody just like you, and our Constitutional right to freedom of religious practice extends to EVERYONE, including those who practice no religion whatsoever, as well as my progressive, feminist take on Christianity. So long as no one is actively being hurt by any particular practice (or if they are being hurt, it is dealt with properly), our freedom to believe as we will is protected. Freedom to worship when, where and however you choose is not a freedom extended all over the world, and we deny it to one another at our peril, lest we lose the one thing we are denying to someone else.
"His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me"
This is a concept I know people have the most issues with and questions about. The idea of an all knowing and all seeing Father in the sky. I've always viewed this aspect in a metaphorical sense. The world places a great deal of emphasis on the individual, and in the US especially, personal responsibility is both a buzzword, and an expletive, depending on the context it is used in. This is the reason most people have a hard time dealing with anything outside of their control. So when people need to reach out for understanding, especially when things go wrong, and occasionally when things mysteriously go right even when they had every reason to go catastrophically wrong, the idea behind Faith, the feeling that someone out there cares about you, can empathize with your struggles, and in some way will always be there for you, is a necessity that keeps some people together in the middle of situations that would crack someone else. For some, this might be their only method of finding some sort of peace that the outside world is trying to deny them. The plight of African American churches and congregations in the South, both during slavery and the civil rights movement comes to mind. Why disturb them if for no other reason than people that were meant to be cowed into silence and cooperation with their own oppression were finding peace, comfort, and often the strength to continue fighting within them?
And that's the reason why I sing.