It wasn’t time for Bingo yet.
The blazing Los Angeles summer sun scorched me as I sat on the hot pavement with my decade-old Martin & Co. six string in my lap. Several retirement-age men and women at the homeless shelter milled around – some half-heartedly playing cards and some sitting quietly in their wheelchair.
As worship leader for our church’s summer mission trip, I pulled out my pick and started to strum a little bit as my all-girls team sat around me in a half-circle. Once I found the key, I started to sing, opening with everyone’s favorite Christian worship song: “Amazing Grace” by Phil Wickham. By the time I got to the chorus, a small crowd had gathered. Soon, the 70-year-olds joined the 17-year-olds.
My team sang softly along with me and so did the older folks, humming or just listening with content smiles plastered to their faces. As I continued, their smiles brightened and their eyes never moved from us. At the end of a few songs, they clapped and encouraged me to continue.
But I ended the set and packed away my guitar satisfied. It was time for Bingo.
I started my seven-year choir journey in 6th grade. Looking back, I experienced priceless personal growth being surrounded by 50 girls in uncomfortable black-beaded gowns. Despite the four-hour rehearsals, almost passing out in our Winter concert and those pokey dresses, I wouldn’t trade a second of it.
You can’t delete one experience without deleting a little part of yourself.
My pre-choir self would’ve been paralyzed by the thought of leading worship in front of people. Any music-related fear you could have, I had: fear of singing alone, fear of a crowd, fear of people listening.
But after one too many auditions, in-front-of-class singing tests and solos at contest, all these fears have been replaced simply with a fundamental joy to make music. Even more importantly, I’ve learned how to share it.
While I still sing shamelessly in the shower and to serenade my roommate Brooke, I didn’t join a choir at Baylor. But I do recognize this: Choir molded me so I could fearlessly share the talents God has given me.
And I plan on doing just that – in any place, anytime, anywhere that puts a sparkle in someone’s eye, joy in their heart and a smile on their face.
Especially if it gets people excited for Bingo.