My gospel choir’s Christmas concert is coming up this weekend. Usually this isn’t a very anxiety-inducing event for me;

By: Robin Harry

My gospel choir’s Christmas concert is coming up this weekend. Usually this isn’t a very anxiety-inducing event for me; I’m usually more excited and pumped than anything else. I love to sing in the choir, and there’s not much else like singing praise and worship on stage. It’s one of my favourite things to do. This year though, I find myself shaking in my proverbial boots, for a few reasons.

1. I just might suck.
I’m a decent singer, normally. But it’s been over a year since I’ve done a concert with the group. Granted, we’ve ALL been on break for that time, but I think I’m the only one that had a tube down her windpipe, radiation to her chest and scar tissue in her mediastinum. There was a time during and after treatment when I couldn’t sing at all. I would aim for a Bb and land hard somewhere around G. I’m a LOT better, but there’s still room for improvement. So there’s a little self-doubt going on right now. Just a little…

2. The giant cancerous elephant in the room
This makes me a little bit more apprehensive. There’s probably going to be a lot of people at these concerts that I haven’t seen since either before I got cancer, or since I was bald and shiny and puffy. I’m excited to see some folks, and there are others that I’m positively dreading meeting. I’m not quite sure what to do or say. All of the “how are you doings” and the awkward shifty glances and pauses when one tries to figure out what to say to someone who had cancer – not really looking forward to those. But there’s always a chance that won’t happen, right?

3. Survivor’s guilt.
We had a choir member, Stephanie, who died several years ago of lymphoma, around Christmas time. I’ve talked about her before. Her life and her grace under fire was a big influence on how I handled my own time with the disease. But right now, especially with the Christmas concert, I have the worst case of survivor’s guilt. I survived lymphoma. Steph didn’t. She died at age 30, the same age that I am now, living in remission. And at this moment, as I write this, I really don’t know how I can look her family and friends in the eye without an answer as to why that is. The thought terrifies me.

4. Déjà vu
The last concert we did turned out to be the first day of the rest of my life. But I know that the odds of me waking up this coming Saturday morning with chest pain are really minimal. Minimal. Minimal. I just have to keep telling myself that. Minimal…

I don’t like feeling anxious, and I dislike admitting it even more. Especially things like this. But maybe admitting it will alleviate it. Here’s the thing about irrational fear. It’s irrational. I can think of a dozen solid reasons why each of these things is wrong. I will eventually reason my way out of all these little fears, because I refuse to let fear and anxiety keep me from doing what needs to be done. Besides, God has not given me a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. That’s what I sing about. So I better darn well start believing it.

I’ll let you all know how it goes…


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