What is happening to me.
I am sitting here at work and I am actually laughing at myself because oh my goodness, my life.
I am not laughing at myself. I take it back. I am laughing at Jesus. Because He' so funny.
Since May, I've been wondering what would happen if I didn't go to music graduate school. I've been wondering what would happen! And I've thought about not going, and then I've actually planned, for about the last month and a half to two months, on not going.
I deferred my enrollment -- deferred, not declined. I have made other plans.
And in the back of my mind, I've known I didn't want to stop singing. Never! But, honestly, y'all, after the two years I've had -- of auditioning and failing and then auditioning AGAIN and then succeeding beyond my wildest dreams -- two years of laser focus -- your girl Sara B. needed a MINUTE.
So I took one. Didn't sing for a little while, except for a few times. And when I decided I didn't want to go to graduate school, I figured maybe I shouldn't.
To be honest with you, it hurt me. I started wanting to go to graduate school again.
This is where I'm thankful for my mother. Always giving me permission. She's who I call when I need permission. And she told me, "Baby, if you feel like you want to go to graduate school, that's okay."
But it was painful. And I had also realized recently that bound up in a lot of my singing in undergrad was the desire to prove myself. To prove that I was good. And I couldn't practice without that fear creeping back in, riding up my sternum and into my neurons. So I left it alone.
I thought I was done. I'd sing for a pastime, nothing more.
But then, on June 9, I watched the Tony's. And I fell back in love with the stage.
I started to fall back in love with musicals, my first love.
And then it happened.
I listened to my playlist of rep I've always wanted to learn.
I started listening to my Bach cantata again.
And then, the worst of the worst: I started listening to Handel again.
For those who don't know, Handel is my man. He's one of my favorite composers to sing; his music just fits me so well.
I listened to my favorite opera. Giulio Cesare. I listened to Cleopatra, my dream role. I felt a pang in my heart.
And then, last weekend (as of this writing, which is taking place in mid-July) I went to sing. I put new effort into consistent practice.
And that's when I started to really notice all the tangled-up-ness inside my heart.
You see, after I had put the dream down, I became terrified that God was going to ask me to pick it back up.
And somehow I now know that that's what He's asking me to do.
Put it down. Give it up.
Then, like Abraham sacrificing his son, his only son Isaac, whom he loved -- like a modern-day, female Abraham, God gave it back to me.
A couple of weeks ago I called my best friend Chaz in tears. I was confused, but mostly I was terrified.
Correction. I AM terrified.
And that's part of how I know: this is right.
I am terrified because I know the singing life is hard. I know what it involves. Mostly I am afraid of pushback from my mom and dad, who love me and mean so well, but are so practical. They are afraid for me. Which I get! 110%!
But I know nothing else other than the fact -- yes, the fact -- that this is the Holy Spirit guiding me and saying, Darling: sing.
And I will say okay.
I am afraid to write down a lot of what I'm feeling. How I feel God telling me to go to grad school in music, after all; thank Him that I've deferred only and not declined. How I don't want to be the kind of person who dreams and then never does it. How I see how my mama gave up her dream when she was in college, and she's so glad she did, but I wonder -- does she ever wonder what might have been? How I don't have to have my parents' story/stories. How I would rather try and see what happens than never try and never know.
I think about how I asked to be considered for a promotion at work and my GM, God bless him, refused, saying that he didn't want to be the reason I had regrets about not going for a dream of mine.
I don't have it all figured out yet.
But my breath caught in my throat when I thought about how God asked Abraham to sacrifice his own son -- and then provided a way for him not to do that, after all.
I'm not saying I have Abraham's story. I'm just saying that I wonder if this is how he felt. If this is not my version of the same thing.
The reason I know that this is right is because I'm scared. When I called Chaz, I was afraid, and Chaz knows me better than almost anyone, so he pointed that out. I confessed to my beloved voice coach that I am afraid. I know the life of an artist is hard. I know that graduate school is expensive, and I will not have help paying for it. But I feel myself tugged back by a couple of things.
First, the Spirit of God hovering over my life. And I've listened to Him enough to know what He feels like when He shows up in my heart and in my gut. I know I would not be able to pick the dream back up, or even step close to it again, if it were not for His guidance.
Second, the memory that I actually do love this. I've prayed to be rescued from needing to prove myself through singing, prayed to be brought out into the green peace of a love-space. And when I choose this, I choose it for love and for Jesus and for love of Jesus and for all of it combined.
It is not for proving or defying. I am a typical Enneagram Type 1, and a typical oldest child, and I am terrified of defying my parents, whom I adore and to whom I am very close.
But something keeps playing in my head: This is my life.
It is no one else's. This is not Mom or Daddy or anyone else. This is me. and Jesus.
Because isn't it what that's about?
I am terrified of pushback, I am terrified of not being a good daughter, and I am terrified of debt. I am afraid of the hardships that come with being an artist. I am afraid that I will lose relationships that are valuable to me.
But you know what else?
I am in love with Jesus. It is Jesus or nothing, and without Jesus, I have nothing.
And Jesus has called me to adventure, and Jesus has called me to this.
When I was in undergrad, I said that I knew God had given me the dream in order to justify my stubborn pursuit of it. Single-minded, obstinate -- my mom calls me bull-headed. And that stings, to be completely honest with you.
Now, though, I can feel Jesus handing it back to me with a glint in His multicolored eyes.
And because I am afraid, I know it is right.
I can feel Him asking me to jump off a cliff.
To take a leap of faith, to echo a line that recurs over and over again in Inception (which I watched again recently).
I wrote in my journal recently that Jesus is asking me to take a chance on the fact that He is Who He says He is, and that He will provide. Which, of course, is no chance at all.
I am afraid, and that is how I know that it is right.
I am walking into this with eyes wide open. Like a grown-up.
I am scared and I am shaking but I am also listening.
One morning I read in Genesis that when Leah, Jacob's unloved wife, had four sons -- almost as consolation prizes for the fact that her husband didn't love her, didn't want her -- her second son was named Simeon, which is the Hebrew for heard.
Which means God will hear my cry for provision and He will provide.
I am afraid.
But, y'all, I think I might be supposed to be an opera singer.
It's not self-will; it's not force. I think it would be force if I didn't do it.
I am terrified, but I am listening.
Pick the dream back up.
It's my Caradhras, my mines of Moria. My burden, and yet not my burden. The opposite of a burden. My shining light.
I am listening. I am waiting.
I am listening.