Sunday, February 2

Jumping in With Both Feet... and Not Looking Back

For as long as I can remember, the temptation for pornography has been there. Sometimes every day, sometimes cycling to an unseen rhythm that would disappear and then strike without notice. I've learned coping skills and things that I can do to overcome temptation, but it never really seemed to change the fact that temptations were still there. 

For a while that distressed me. And made me think I was even more of a sinner for just being tempted. But then I realized that temptations aren't sin - just my reaction to them - and I was able to feel peace. In the end, I assumed that the temptation would just always be there. Always a part of life because... well... that's what past addictions do, right? They haunt you forever, always reminding you of the importance of being careful and focused on doing good.

But earlier this week I realized that it's been a long time since I was even tempted by pornography. The moments in my life when sometimes the temptation would jump in have been quietly vacant... and having to fight an unseen demon feels like a distant memory or dream.

I have mixed feelings. No regret for it being gone. I'm happy without having to wrestle with my conscious mind. Just wondering why it left. Did I finally learn something important? Does Satan have limited resources in temptation and moved them somewhere else? Did God step in and remove it? Did I gain something vital to keep me safe? Is this just the calm before the storm?

Right now I don't know. My life doesn't seem all that different in the past months from the months before... so it might take some major introspection to understand. Hopefully I'll be able to figure it out; learning how to be free of temptation after years of addiction would be an awfully valuable skill / knowledge set to have.

In the meantime, my a cappella group - Grace - is already awesome. We've performed three times: once at a rest home, once at Provo Towne Centre mall, and just on Friday as the pre-show for a ward talent show at BYU. We don't have a performance scheduled this week yet, but we're doing a small benefit concert on February 27 at BYU (along with a few other groups)... and then this week I decided to take a huge jump of faith.

Other big a cappella groups perform at major venues - the BYU deJong concert hall, the Covey Center in Provo, places like that. I looked at my finances... and I've been blessed to have jobs and be frugal. I prayed about it, and decided that I was willing to invest a lot (to me) of money into Grace... to give it everything I have. Sometimes I go into projects and keep part of myself back, bracing for abject failure. But I wanted this to be different. I've never let myself jump into music and performance completely.

So on Thursday I met with the administration at the Covey Center for the Arts in downtown Provo. I found a day that was open (there were only four days total, none weekends, in the next many months, so I just chose one) - Thursday, April 10. I toured the 670-seat theater, met the light and sound technicians, talked with the director about tickets and people and demand and costs and marketing...

And on Friday, after praying for confirmation that this wasn't a huge mistake, I paid the deposit for Grace's first full-length major concert. I still have to schedule the concerts in their online system and do paperwork, but it's going to happen.

I did it because I'm okay with all the potential outcomes... even the worst-case outcome. The worst case? Everyone in the group leaves or gets sick, we have to cancel the concerts and refund the money, and I have to pay all the venue fees out of pocket... and lose all credibility as a director. I don't think that will happen. I definitely hope it doesn't. But it might.

We could also just not sell enough tickets, and not cover the costs of performing. I'm already ready for that possibility. It's much more likely.

Or we could sell enough tickets and have an awful performance and alienate potential fans. I've seen that happen. But people have liked us so far.

Or we could sell enough tickets and have a good performance and have fun. That's my hope.

Regardless of the outcome on April 10, having performances to prepare for makes this so much more real. Choosing what to wear is suddenly more important, as is choreography and getting fans who are interested in buying a ticket to hear us sing.

So this is the plan for Thursday April 10:

From 1-4 Grace will host a high school (and maybe college) a cappella workshop, for groups and individuals. Two of my group members remember doing a workshop that really inspired them... so I wanted to give back. We'll keep the workshop numbers limited so that people get face time with someone to give them personal feedback. (April 10 is during spring break, so students from high schools or UVU should be free if they're not vacationing)

At 6, we'll perform. The last number or two will be performed with guests - the people who came to the workshop that afternoon.

At 8, or a little after, we'll perform again.

That means we have to sell 1340 performance tickets, plus the workshop. That's a huge undertaking.

But I feel like it's going to happen. Yet again, I'm doing something new... and finding small proofs that I can succeed.


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