Performance Mode

mic-facing-audienceAs a pastor, worship leader, and musician, there are times when it becomes necessary to go into what I call “performance mode.” For me, it happens when there is the potential of being overtaken with emotion while speaking, playing, or singing.

I noticed the need for this “performance mode” when I used to sing in church as a boy. If I looked at my mom, who was bursting with pride and welling up with tears, I found myself struck with the emotion of the moment, overcome even. I would choke up and then be unable to continue to song, instead vamping for a minute until I could regain composure.

Since then, there have been situations in which I have found myself which have required performance mode even more: speaking at the funeral of a six month old baby of a friend, singing at the funeral of a peer and friend, a powerful commissioning service or baptism service, singing at a funeral service while my father was in hospice care a week before he died, and countless other instances. In all of them, I have found myself needing to look past the eyes of those in the congregation or audience, focusing my mind on the words or notes, rising above the feelings and emotion of the moment to maintain composure and finish.

Today is a day for me to go into “performance mode” as I attend the closing on my parents’ townhouse. As tempted as I am to fall into the feelings and emotions of the moments that will occur, I need to rise above them. It will be a difficult day as I sit in a conference room and sign papers to complete the sale of my parents’ townhouse which was not supposed to happen for a long time.

It was a little more than four years ago that I sat in a similar conference room with them signing the papers that would make this townhouse theirs, to make them homeowners for the first time in their lives. Four years ago, I stood across the room from my parents and met eyes with my mom as she gave me one of the biggest smiles that I’d ever seen on her. That knowing look that happens between two people who can speak without saying a word, whose communication extends beyond just verbal. She winked at me as our eyes met and she continued to sign the endless papers to become a first-time homeowner.

Today is the end of that dream…..officially. There is no bitterness there, no anger at God, just disappointment and sadness. I don’t blame God, I’m not asking “Why?” in the midst of it, but I can’t deny the emptiness that I feel inside, I can’t deny that I wish that this day wasn’t happening as soon as it is. I wish that I had had more time….but I didn’t.

Today I will make that drive one last time and there will be no need to go back to that townhouse again. I will quickly move into “performance mode” and sign papers that will ensure that the deal is done.

So, if you happen to see me today, you’ll probably just get a smile and a nod. I’ll be short for conversation and long for pensivity. I’ll be trying to think of every other thing to think about rather than the one that’s immediately present before me. If you happen to see me today, I hope that words fail you, and if they do, I’ll just settle for a hug!

3 thoughts on “Performance Mode

  1. I like that term “performance mode.” I think I do it all the time subconsciously, but never realized I was doing it. I think you’re even farther down the empathy/sensitivity continuum than I am. (and that’s saying alot). Thanks for the insights. Praying for peace and comfort for you today.

  2. Thanks, Sharon. Yup, I’ve gotten pretty good at going into it, so I’ve had to come up with a name for it. My wife is the one with high empathy/sensitivity, I’m just a little more self-aware than the average person and I deal with my inner self in a more outward manner. I guess I handle my feelings the way that you might expect from an extrovert. Thanks for reading and commenting! Blessings!

  3. My dear Jon,

    I hope you can feel my hug across the miles! If you should feel like talking, please call me. If not, know that I am thinking of you and praying for you.

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