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“You rock.”

March 21, 2010

You know how there are those moments in your life… certain times when someone says or does something, or perhaps when some event happens, and it has an impact on you such that you always remember it? Like people who remember exactly what they were doing when they found out Kennedy was shot. Or when they heard about September 11. Or maybe you carry around a memory of a first date or a birth or a death or a big win in overtime. Whatever it is.

As we are in the process of saying goodbye to some very dear friends — our worship minister (Sean Rittenberry) and his family are leaving to take another ministry up in Indiana — in the midst of all the emotion and tears, a certain memory comes to the forefront for me. It’s one of those little moments that I cherish, that I pull out and recall from time to time when I am feeling a little down.

People who see me sing in church nowadays may not realize that I am a complete nervous wreck whenever I pick up a microphone. I’ve always had a self-confidence issue… meaning that I have none. I love to sing and always have, but I still have something like a panic attack every time I am supposed to do a solo or anything like that. I hyperventilate and my hands shake and my voice quivers and the whole bit. It’s always an adventure!

So why do I do it?

That’s a good question.

First of all, there’s the whole love of singing thing that I just mentioned. I have always loved to sing, especially to harmonize. As a little girl I would sing with Franki Valli and the Four Seasons on the record player in the family room. [I thought it was funny that a man could sing so high!] When I got older I would sing in my car, or in my room, or in the shower… basically anyplace that I was pretty sure no one could hear me. I sang all the parts and pretended I was famous. A legend in my own mind.

But the more compelling reason… the thing that got me to take my love of singing and be willing to go out on a limb and pick up a microphone and sing in front of actual people who might hear me… is Sean.

Sean has always been an encourager to me. But one evening about 4 or 5 years ago was the moment in my memory when things really “clicked” for the first time with me and the singing.

We were at praise band practice. Normally I didn’t go to band practice, but for some reason that particular week, I was supposed to be there helping out with a vocal team that Sean had put together. (This was before the use of praise teams at our church became a regular thing). I don’t remember all the details, but I do remember that there were supposed to be other vocalists besides me, but I was the only one who could make it to practice that night.

I hadn’t ever been on a praise team before. I was a bit nervous, because we were going to be practicing the songs for Sunday, but I was the only one there singing along with Sean and the band playing. So any mistakes I made would be right out there in the open for all to hear…

The band tuned up and started playing the first song in the lineup. Sean started singing.

I joined in. I didn’t really know anything else to do except sing harmony. That’s usually what I hear the best.

I remember thinking that it didn’t sound too bad. I thought that my voice blended in pretty well with Sean’s. I thought things sounded fairly smooth. I wondered if I was the only one who thought that. It might have been all in my head.

The band stopped playing after a minute. I thought maybe I was doing something wrong. Turns out they just needed to tweak something with the music… but before he gave them any further instruction, Sean quickly turned to me. First things first. He smiled and said

“You rock!”

And it was one of those moments. A moment of genuine, unsolicited, positive reinforcement about something I was doing.

It made me happy.

It made me grin.

It made me sing a little bit louder the next time.

Since that evening, I’ve gradually done more and more singing at church, especially helping to lead worship. I’ve enjoyed singing with Sean on praise team and I’ve really enjoyed the few times (not nearly enough) when we sang together as special music during the service.

I still have my panic attacks. I still have my doubts and my overly critical assessments of how I sound when I do a solo. I still wonder whether the audience can see me shaking up there.

But in the midst of it all, I also still have this moment in my memory… when I was trying something new, and a good friend turned to me and smiled and gave me all kinds of affirmation in just two words.

Thanks, Sean. Thanks for the years of service at our church, and for the years of friendship we’ve enjoyed with you and your family. Thanks for coming to our lame New Year’s Eve get-togethers. Thanks for playing “Open Arms” on the keyboard and letting me pretend to be Steve Perry (yeah, right!). Thanks for having confidence in me and pushing me to do more than just sit around.

I wish you weren’t going. I really do. Tears are coming as I type this. But I know you are going where God is leading you, and who can argue with that?

So good luck and God bless, and don’t ever forget how much we will all miss you.

And just so you know… the feeling is likewise:

YOU ROCK.

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2 comments

  1. What a fantastic post—and what a gift he gave you!


  2. I only hope that I take opportunities to encourage people the way he did for you. What an awesome post!



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