Sometimes life doesn’t turn out how you expect. Fact. Sometimes you can take it in your stride. And there are times when it’s not so easy, when quite frankly you’re gutted.
Two weeks ago I was really blessed to be part of a pantomime production. It’s something my church puts together bi-annually for local primary schools and the general public, and on occasion it has even been described as “better than the professional ones at the theatre”.
As well as the privilege of being part of it, the fun we had bringing it all together, it was also significant for me as up until this year, I hadn’t sang on stage for over a decade, since my university days. And as a child, I sang a LOT. Our family was a bit like the von Trapp family, only much smaller. My claim to fame even was that I once sang for John Major.
So you could say it was something like rediscovering a long lost love (the singing I mean, not John, sorry!). Wednesday night rehearsals felt like therapy. I was a bit unsure about the acting and dancing, and thankful that Princess Jasmine gets talked about more than she has to talk, but the singing I thoroughly enjoyed.
Then I lost my voice, a week and a half before the first performance. I was completely silent for four days, then slowly got a croaking speaking voice back but my singing voice never fully returned.
I started out by saying I was blessed to be part of this pantomime. And that still stands true. In the midst of my disappointment, I wasn’t ready to give up. I was determined not to write this experience down in history as “the time I almost got to be in the panto until I lost my voice.” So I held on to every blessing I could find, and I was reminded that while things don’t always turn out as expected, I can still choose to enjoy what I have:
I helped out backstage at the performances that I wasn’t part of (there were two of us casted to each role to share the eight performances) and found my heart leaping with delight the first time I heard an audience full of primary school children laugh, squeal and join in with the show.
I made it on stage for some of my own performances too – with a lot of help from my friends. I spoke my lines and lip-synced my songs while an amazing singer provided the sound. It was such a team effort that even some people who knew her voice well, didn’t realise that it wasn’t me singing. It provided some interesting conversations afterwards of “no, really, that wasn’t me – I CAN sing, but right now I just can’t hit the notes!”
Community, love and fun
You could say it was a lesson in doing life not just in my own strength, but to let others help and support me, to be truly part of a community and be open to be blessed by those around me.
And blessed I was, with so much love – people asking how I was doing, offering me remedies, hugs, cups of tea and even a supply of manuka honey, the concern and encouragement day after day, rehearsal after rehearsal, performance after performance – and with so much fun too, too many antics to mention, both on and off stage.
I learned to value my passion for singing. It’s something I’ve always enjoyed when invited, but been quite shy to put myself forward for. It was only after getting so much encouragement and feedback after a spontaneous leap of faith earlier this year that I started to pursue it again. But there’s something about deciding you want something, going for it, then being denied the opportunity, that you find out just HOW much you really want it, and that’s when you take a stand and act in faith.
And do you know what, at the final performance, an extra last minute one we put on when the others sold out, I actually managed to sing a couple of my own songs – my very own small miracle.
So in the closing words of Rising Brook‘s very own version of Aladdin the Pantomime:
We’ve learned that it doesn’t have to be this way.
You can do something about it if you want to
There’s faith, there’s hope and above all there’s love.
So let’s celebrate and dance…
What about you? What hasn’t turned out as you expected this year? In the midst of the disappointments, what blessings can you find, embrace, celebrate and breathe life into?