Thursday, May 7, 2009

What happens when I add my voice to 18,000 others?

I do not sing well. I have confessed that before, but for those who haven't yet heard me whine about my lack of vocal ability . . . I really do not have a good singing voice. It is something I covet, dream about, wish for, and hope that someday, in some post-mortal realm, God will be merciful and I will qualify to sing in the Heavenly Choir. But for now, my singing is mostly limited to my seminary class (who is very forgiving) and the shower.

Perhaps that is why the song we were invited to sing at the conclusion of the opening session of Women's Conference made such a deep impression on me. Or perhaps there were just lessons I needed to learn; but my head has been spinning with thoughts since that morning.

Sandra Rogers, International Vice President of BYU, was the speaker. At the conclusion of her talk she asked Merrilee Webb to lead everyone in singing "Now Let Us Rejoice". She explained that the song, by W. W. Phelps, was written at a time of great trial and tribulation, and yet he still found cause to praise God.

But it wasn't the words of the song necessarily that impressed me as much as what happened when we all sang together. After practicing the song a few times, we sang it all the way through, concluding with the words, "And Christ and His people will ever be one."

That last sentence resonated with me. For as we all sang loudly in unison, my individual voice could not be heard either by me or those standing near me. Instead, all 18,000 sisters voices united together to form one voice--one powerful, beautiful, melodic voice, that seemed to rise from the earthly confines of the Marriott Center and ascend to Heaven.

I wondered how many women there did not feel they had great singing voices. How many, like me, avoided singing opportunities due to feelings of inadequacy, or lack of talent? Yet, what if all of us, who felt we can't sing, didn't? The volume would have been greatly reduced, and it was the volume that stirred my soul that morning. My not very good, sometimes squeaky voice, contributed. In a small way, my voice made a difference and that difference was for the better.

There are several lessons I learned that morning. First is that even in my weakness I have something to give that can help others. My talent might not be the same, or as great, but it can still benefit. Even if all I have to add is volume, that can be important.

I think that principle applies in all areas of our lives. We were all born with different gifts, talents and abilities. But just because we may not be the best, or even good in some area, doesn't mean we don't have something to offer--even if our role is just to give support. We can benefit those around us just as they benefit us.

The second lesson I learned is that there is strength in unity. Unity doesn't mean we have to be doing exactly the same thing, in exactly the same way with the same level of ability. Some people sang alto, some soprano; some had strong voices, and some had weak. But what was important is we were all singing the same song.

And it was that unity in song, coupled with our differences in voice that created the beauty. And the power.

Wouldn't it be wonderful if we ---as righteous women, covenant keepers, and defenders of the family--- could always unite our voices? No matter how weak our individual voice might be, no matter how inadequate we may feel, or how limited our resources, our voices---united in one strong message---could transcend the confines of our homes, and our communities and cause even hell's foundations to shake--and all the world to know that . . . "Christ and His people will ever be one."

I think that is what they call Zion.

And that thought brings great. . . joy to my journey.


Carolyn said...

I feel the same way about my voice. What a beautiful way to focus outward.
Thank you for sharing your lessons learned at WC.

Emma T said...

I love that!! What a positive thought. I have often held back because I felt I didn't have much to offer. I am going to have to rethink that.

Chelsea said...

I like your thoughts on unity. I know that even though my husband and I are very different we can be united in our thoughts and purpose--and when we are, we are much stronger as a couple. The same can apply to our family, our ward, our community etc. There is not only strength to be found in numbers, but also in unity. Perhaps Zion's strength then is not only in her righteousness, but also in being of "one heart and one mind."

Jenny-Jenny said...

You sure have a wonderful way about you. I remember when my husband and I first moved far away from my family. We were in a different time zone, but I watched the RS General Conference Broadcast live in our stake center. It brought me to tears when I realized that 1000 miles away, my Mom and sisters were singing the same song at the same moment... as well as thousands of other women throughout the world. There is wonderful unity and strength to be found in good music.

Lisa said...

Music is SO powerful. Sounds like you had a great moment among great women. I've always thought that righteous mothers can do anything so I can only imagine how awesome that experience was for you.

Shannon said...

You wrote the post I've been trying to put into words for a week now. I LOVED when we sang that song. I happened to be singing in the choir, so we had a little extra practice that morning. At first I was frustrated. I don't have a fabulous voice, but I do love singing in a choir- and the bigger the better! I struggled because the room was so big my voice felt like it didn't do anything. I kept trying to sing louder, but that only made the sound worse. It finally dawned on me that all I needed to do was my little part, the voices would all come together, and the sound would be awesome. The rest of the morning, that's all I concentrated on- singing the best that my little voice could do, and not worrying that I couldn't hear myself. My soul wanted to burst out and fill the room, but, like you, my voice added to all the others made something much more beautiful. I've always loved "Now, Let Us Rejoice", but after that talk and that experience, it will right at the top of the list.

JUST ME, THE MOM said...

I loved your comments! I think that is absolutely my most favorite and most amazing thing about Women's Conference every year. How powerful women are, and how much good they do, especially when combined all together is so wonderful. It is the most awe inspiring feeling. I love singing with 18,000 women, and I love Sandra Rogers - so miss it. Okay, I'm calling and making my reservations for next year;)


Xazmin said...

You have me in tears! What a powerful post. I love your analogy. That would definitely be zion.

Momza said...

I missed WC this year...but when we I go I always sign myself and my daughters up for the Instant Choir...yes, we stay up late Wednesday night, yes, we have to get up early Thursday morn, yes, it's crazy...but WOW! is it ALWAYS worth it!

We can't go to WC and NOT participate in the Instant Choir. There is palpable strength and power when our purposes are united.

Sad that I missed it this year. Great post!

Becky said...

One of the sisters in my ward was also touched by this and shared the experience in her testimony last week. It sounds like a great experience.

BTW, thanks for your concern about my not posting. There are some things going on over here that are really challenging for me. I wish it was something I could blog about to get advice, but it's not. So I am doing a lot of personal prayer and study instead. Thanks for being a *friend.*

Dawn said...

I live in Orem, UT. I found your link through Jenny, Jenny - (I'm her mom.) I just wanted to thank you for the thoughts and feelings you expressed. I will need to reread this again and again until I can remember the thoughts that come through all on my own. Thanks!

MissKris said...

I love this post! It brings back good memories from this year of singing in the Marriott center. I love singing in big groups too because they let everyone sing as loud as each person wants. And even though there's probably a large number of people who really can't sing well or at all- it somehow still ends up sounding pretty awesome. Thanks for the post! That is something to think about.