At the beginning of this month. or perhaps the tail-end of last, my friend asked if my family would sing in our congregation's Sacrament meeting. Nerves built up inside me. But since I had offered in a Facebook post requesting people who would be willing to do special musical numbers, I readily said yes. It wasn't necessarily easy. I get very nervous singing in front of people, and the fewer people I have singing with me, the more nervous I become. But I knew I'd have Prince Charming singing with me and he has an absolutely gorgeous voice. I could fall back on my old trick of telling myself that no one would actually hear me. It sounds dumb, I know, but it's how I get through.
We planned for April 22nd as our performance date and my little family set to work. Prince Charming, who already speaks Spanish fluently, helped the children and I learn the words of the first verse of our chosen song, "I Love to See the Temple," in Spanish and helped me learn the words of the second verse. My friend agreed to accompany us and we were able to coordinate a couple of practices before the big day.
The week leading to our performance was a very challenging week for our family. Without going into too much detail, a family we are friends with found themselves facing a terrible challenge. It was emotionally draining as I couldn't imagine myself in their shoes and the heartache they must have been feeling. Track season is well underway and so instead of having an extra pair of hands right at four, it was often late into the evening before Prince Charming could be home. I was feeling overwhelmed and tired, and honestly a little alone.
Sunday morning was not shaping up well. Laundry had been missed and so I scrambled to find clothes for everyone. I somehow managed to find coordinating outfits for everyone, including a tie for Prince Charming just in case the one he'd worn to his early meetings was not blue. There were some tantrums and just as we were preparing to go out the door, my baby had a major blowout diaper. With grit teeth I got him changed and everyone in the car, leaving only a few minutes later than planned. As we drove, my children practiced singing and I silently wondered why everything had to be so hard. Couldn't I have just one easy day?
Heaven seemed silent as we pulled into the parking lot and went into the building. We practiced through our song and it sounded great. My children sang with enthusiasm and reverence, a hard combination to get.
The meeting started. I led the music for our ward and the anticipated nerves of my upcoming performance didn't come. I listened to the first speaker and still the nerves didn't come. Then it was time. I led our children up onto the stand, strangely calm. Then two little boys from the family I mentioned earlier came to join us. I was deeply touched by the trust and love on their little faces as they stood next to my children just like they belonged there.
And they did.
These children are not mine, but they are a part of my ward family. We are told in the scriptures to be one with each other as Christ is one with the Father. And having them join us reminded me of that familial oneness we are to have.
My friend began playing the piano and my children opened the song. Prince Charming and I joined in midway through the verse. And still, I did not feel nervous or afraid. We transitioned to the Spanish verses and to my surprise, my normally unflappable husband stopped singing as he was overcome with emotion as we started the second Spanish verse. There was nothing else for me to do. I continued singing as I had been, knowing that there was no way I could convince myself that no one could hear me.
And a beautiful thing happened. I did not feel nervous or afraid. I didn't worry that I would miss a note or that people wouldn't like my singing. For the first time since I was a young child I performed by myself with confidence and peace. It was an amazing blessing.
Prince Charming was able to compose himself to join again with our children in the final verse. It was beautiful and touching. As I led the children back down to our pew following the song, I sent a silent prayer of gratitude that I had been able to sing alone without fear. A feeling of love and peace washed over me as I remembered the words spoken so often in the Bible, "I the Lord am with thee."
In our times of trial and difficulty, it can be easy to think God's not there or that He's not listening. But even when Heaven seems to be silent, I know our Father is with us. We may feel alone, but He is there. He is there in the quiet moments of peace. He is there in the trying times of grief. He is there. And He loves you.
What are Love Notes?
When I was a high school freshman attending LDS seminary, my teacher taught us at the beginning of the year to pay close attention to scriptures and passages that stood out to us. "These," she said, "are God's love notes just for you."