“It matters not if the world has heard or approves or understands…the only applause we’re meant to seek is that of nail-scarred hands.” ~
When I was a little girl, I was shy. Actually… I’m not going to use that word anymore to describe the horror I felt when pushed onto a stage I didn’t want to be on. The blinding hot lights, the sea of unknown faces mixed in with a familiar one here and there was not something I wanted to see. My father was a very well known pastor/evangelist and when he wasn’t preaching at his own church, we were traveling to his friends churches. I loved traveling to different states. I loved being around the pastors and musicians at the churches. I loved running around and exploring the empty churches while the guys set up equipment. Revivals were my favorites. The services that just went on and on. I remember being so worn out one night as my step-grandpa picked me up and carried me through a huge church while I rested on his shoulder. The late night dinners at restaurants with preachers and musicians after services were the best.
I really enjoyed being around men of God and the musicians. What I did not enjoy was being on stage and having hundreds of people looking straight at me. That is terrifying! I’m not a performer. I preferred to do things behind the scenes like preparing things for church, making bulletins, cleaning, helping in the nursery, setting up for communion…etc. I was just happy doing anything my parents wanted me to do at church that did not require being a “Dancing monkey” on stage for the crowd so to speak. I was the complete opposite of my family. I hated when people clapped for me and to this day, I hate people singing happy birthday to me. In fact…
The only applause I seek is that of nail-scarred hands.
Right before each service, it was time to get ready. All to often, I had to wear frilly dresses that were scratchy and uncomfortable. I would be summoned into the bathroom by my mother who insisted on curling my baby fine/stick straight hair. Then, it was time. The only part of church I hated was when I had to get up on stage. Standing to the side, I would freeze. Anxiety… stage fright, one of those or both would take over. I just couldn’t do it. My mother would try the guilt trip trick and when that did’t work, she resorted to bribery until I finally gave in. “Everyone wants to see you. Get up there with your brothers. If you get up there, I’ll get you an ice cream on the way home.” I hated the looks of disappointment I would get from my parents anytime I hesitated to behave the way I was expected to. Like a robot with no smile, I would take my place and do what I had to do to please everyone. Why did people want to see me anyways? Being the youngest child and a little “late to the party”, I wouldn’t fully understand the answer to that until later on.
Looking over at my brother, I would watch/listen for “the beat”. I was terrified I wouldn’t be able to keep up. Somehow, I managed not to pass out in the floor and as soon as I could, I would get off of any stage I was made to go on. I can’t explain the feeling I felt as I exited the stage. It was like getting off of a terrifying roller coaster that you never wanted to ride. I hated people looking at me. I hated being on stage. I loved sitting in the pews. I loved blending in with everyone else. I liked sitting with my mother and listening to my father preach. He was always so sure of what he was saying. He preached with fire and confidence. My mother would nod her head and raise her hand, giving the air a kind of tap while saying “Yes” Or “Amen”. The men would yell things like, “Hallelujah” and run around the building sometimes. My father would give an alter call and lay hands on the sick. All across the floor, people would be slain “in the spirit” and I always wondered what they saw/where they went while laying there. Church services lasted for hours. It was all so fascinating!
If you asked me where my favorite place to be was, I would’ve quickly answered, “Church!” There was something about churches that pulled me in. I loved church pews, stained glass windows, huge crosses, weekly bulletins, the smell of “pine-sol” coming from the clean bathrooms and setting up for communion was something special. Bibles… I LOVE bibles. There is nothing like feeling the pages between my fingers, turning to the correct verse and seeing the written word of God.
After service, I liked to go up to my father who was talking with people and I would attempt to reach my little hand into his pocket where he always kept his mints. He had the BEST mints. I think they were called, “Certs”. He usually didn’t pay me much attention. I can still remember the smell of his cologne and the suits my father wore. He would have his bible in one hand and be shaking hands with the other. Sometimes, I might hug him or grab his arm. He would let me have one of his yummy mints and I would go on my way. Man, I miss those mints…
Amazed By His Grace,
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