As you go through life, it's easy to take things for granted. This is something you may hear quite a lot as it pertains to starving kids in third-world countries. You might think of things like having food to eat, a roof over your head, or a soft, warm bed to sleep in. But have you ever gone deeper than that? For example, what about kids with disabilities? Can you imagine living life with no arms? Can you imagine being blind, spending your whole life never seeing the vast, intricate shapes, colors and patterns that make up this beautiful world we live in?
My name is Steven Brown, and these questions have recently hit very close to home for me. You see, I'm absolutely crazy about the performing arts, and especially so when it comes to singing. I sing anywhere and everywhere. In fact, the times when I've felt most alive, most filled with joy have often come when I'm belting out a song in the shower. It's just me, God, and my voice. Singing has gotten me through a lot in my life. I might be having a very bad day, but then I go sing for a while and I feel happy again. You can imagine then, the sickening feeling that washed over me the other day when I realized that I had damaged my voice...
I'd been taking voice lessons for a while, but had only been working with my new voice teacher for a couple of months. That work with him enabled me to totally open up the top part of my register (my highest notes). I'd always had the vocal quality of a high baritone or a tenor, but not the notes. Yet here I was, for the first time able to sing those big high tenor notes. But I got carried away, over enthusiastic, and I pushed myself too hard, too fast. In just a couple of days, I totally blew out my voice. It was quite silly really, because I knew quite well not to go for those high notes until I mastered good, solid vocal technique. But in my enthusiasm I forgot all about that.
In the days that followed I realized that my brief lapse of judgement had cost me. Using my voice at all, even regular speech, caused me discomfort. It was like living in a continuous state of having lost my voice. I knew right away that I had to rest my voice for at least a couple of weeks, and probably more like a month. On the surface that would seem simple, but have you ever tried living life like that? I can't sing, I can't yell (not even to call for somebody in the next room), and even in a regular tone of voice I can't say more than a handful of sentences at a time before the discomfort sets in and I have to stop. This would be an annoyance for someone who just happens to enjoy singing. But I'm an actor. Not being able to use my voice poses a real problem for me. Even worse though, is that I'm also a teacher and I've got a class of 13 students relying on me. We have a performance in a month and a half. Somehow, I have to run class, teach them how to act, prepare them for the performance, and I have to do all of it without really using my voice. That's a very, very scary prospect for me.
I really don't know what God's doing in this situation. I don't know what He might be trying to tell me, or what He wants me to learn. Of course I'll get through this one way or another, but it's going to be really, really tough. All I can do is trust in Him. But thinking about that reminded me of a very important truth. Life is not easy. You may lose the people or the things that you care about most. God never promised that everything would be simple and happy all the time. But pushing through the hard times IS worth it. There may be days when you have no idea how you're going to go on, but don't despair. God knows what He's doing. Put one foot in front of another and keep your eyes on Him. It doesn't have to look pretty, it doesn't have to look smooth, but if you keep going and keep your eyes on Him, you will get through it. Who knows, that journey might just help you learn or grow in some remarkable ways. As a wise person once said: "If the mountain were smooth, you couldn't climb it."