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08 August 2014

The Perils of Taking Center Stage

You may be inclined to stop reading (because you'll think I'm a complete jerk) before you get through the account below. I encourage you to read it all before making a judgment call, though.

It was a slightly breezy, cool evening and I'd set up my guitar and microphone as part of a trio to play music for an outdoor festival on a mountain for a moderately affluent community. I had to arrange my stage area on the front porch of a small white house; I believe it was an old historic landmark. The odd thing about the setup was that my friends Chris and Quentin (or "Q"), the bassist and drummer, had to set up their their instruments (insert your own joke about drums not being an instrument) in an open area off to my right at a fairly substantial distance for a typical band layout.

We didn't get a sound check, and I remember being particularly nervous about a couple of the songs that hadn't gone too well when we practiced. Strangely, though, at that moment I couldn't remember which songs those were. Stage fright, most likely.

When it was time to start playing I stepped up to the mic and said, "Hello. My name is Dean Lusk," and immediately noticed that the crowd seemed disinterested; still mingling without so much as a glance at the stage. I reacted by throwing out a fairly dumb one-liner. Mercifully, it received some chuckles. Continuing the schtick, I put on my best Liverpool accent (or whatever dialect it is when you really don't know which dialect it is) and proclaimed, "I'm actually British," and started to wade through another stupid anecdote.

Suddenly, while I was still talking and before I even realized it was happening, Q gave a four-count with his drumsticks and he and Chris began to play the first song, "Dock of the Bay." I fell in easily enough, though I felt incredibly awkward. I guess I had been talking too much.

The first few words I sang were fine. And then it struck me like lightning that this was one of the songs I'd been anxious about. The hard part came quickly: the last half of the first line of the chorus... "watching the tiiiiiide roll in." It was slightly too high for my vocal range, and my voice almost cracked so I took a step back from the mic even before I'd finished singing the phrase. And I noticed something that was surprising and embarrassing.

This wasn't even my song. It was Q's song, and he was singing. It had been his microphone I had heard when I began to sing. I was mortified and wondered what Chris and Q thought of me (which bothered me far more than what the crowd thought); I'd essentially tried to hijack the performance with my awful comedy routine at the beginning and then by trying to sing over the top of someone else's vocal.

I put my guitar down and walked away in embarrassment and shame. The song was still going. Q sounded great. Matter of fact, even though the music was now just drums, bass, and a vocal, it sounded surprisingly good. I don't even remember if anyone in the crowd gave me weird looks as I walked through the middle of them, over to another little white house near the back of the audience, where I woke up.

I was more than relieved to realize it had been a dream, but it did reveal to me a darker side of my personality. Jesus talked about it.

“When you are invited to a wedding feast, don’t sit in the seat of honor. What if someone who is more distinguished than you has also been invited? The host will come and say, ‘Give this person your seat.’ Then you will be embarrassed, and you will have to take whatever seat is left at the foot of the table!

“Instead, take the lowest place at the foot of the table. Then when your host sees you, he will come and say, ‘Friend, we have a better place for you!’ Then you will be honored in front of all the other guests. For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”
(Luke 14:8-11, NLT, emphases mine)

While I wouldn't dare execute this dream in real life, it illustrated the extent to which I sometimes live as though the world revolves around me. I've come to learn over the past few years that self-centeredness comes in many forms, all of which are corrupting and damaging to nearly every relationship, beginning with our relationship to God and extending to our families and friends.

For that reason, I hope this dream sticks in my memory for a long time to come.


The Composition said...


Anonymous said...

Great blog post

Amanda Hoot

Christy said...

That's a lesson that I have to learn and re-learn way too frequently! I'm am, however, so grateful that God is slow to anger and that His mercies are new every morning.

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