“It will be over as soon as it starts” our electric guitarist said. “So enjoy it”.
All nine of us were rifling around in the green room about thirty minutes before we were about to go on stage at the Uptown theater in downtown Napa. Though one or two band members were lounging on the couch for a bit of rest during that long day, most of us were nervously pacing about the room.
It’s funny how everyone has their specific nervous habit. There was a lot of nail-biting, coffee drinking, and push-ups happening in that green room. The year prior I kept changing into different outfits. This year I kept changing my shoes.
I had just put on some high wedges, the tallest shoes I’ve ever worn, as we were waiting to go on stage. I kept adjusting the straps on the shoe, tighter then looser to see what was most comfortable. Because….I had never worn these shoes for longer than 5 minutes (perhaps not the best choice for singing in front of the largest audience to date) and because I was nervous. This was a big night.
Not only was I feeling the butterflies in my stomach, I was feeling exhausted. It had been such a long week, one of those weeks when every waking moment is planned out and you still don’t have enough time to get it all done.
While I was feeling the weight of my exhausting and adjusting my wedges for about the sixth time, the stage went black giving us the not-so-subtle clue that we were up. This was the first time I’ve ever walked out onto a stage in a completely dark room, and I must say that I don’t think I have every felt more disoriented in my life.
Exhausted, nervous, unstable from these new shoes, and now I couldn’t see a thing. I stood there paralyzed for a second because I didn’t know what was happening. The darkness unearthed some practical questions like, “How am I supposed to find my spot when I can’t see?”. But it also revealed some personal questions like, “Am I really ready for this moment? Can I do this? Do I have what it takes? Can I really overcome my fear and exhaustion?”.
Then, the first song started. It came and went along with the rest of our set just like our electric guitarist said. And I had the time of my life. The night I was dreading ended up being more fun than I could have imagined from the days and even minutes prior.
What I learned from this blackout moment, is often chaos precedes something extraordinary. That’s not to say that all chaos in life leads to good things. But I wonder how often we pull out too soon because we hit a wall. Chaos and opposition don’t always mean that we’re in the wrong place.
I like how David says it in Psalms: “With your (God’s) help I can advance against a troop; with my God I can scale a wall.” Psalms 18:29
The blackout moments are going to happen to all of us in our lives. The things that paralyze us, fill us with fear, knock us off balance, and tell us that we shouldn’t go any further. But maybe, just maybe, it’s the time to steady yourself and lean in.
Something incredible might be on the other side of this chaos.
Something extraordinary might be on the other side of this wall.
Jen is a pastor, worship leader, writer, and songwriter living in Napa, California.