I left work today without having posted my blog. Not only did I run out of time, but I ran out of inspiration. I read over some quotes that I had written down, reviewed some things that I had read, and thought about the events of the week. Just nothing struck me as inspiring.
I had to get right home in order to get our daughter to some auditions about 45 miles away. She’s our big dreamer. A co-worker asked what I was doing tonight and I told her I was riding on the coat strings of my daughter’s dreams. I had to explain what we were really doing. Admittedly, I wasn’t too excited about taking the time to facilitate those dreams tonight, but as I sit here and write this at almost midnight, I can tell you that I am so glad we went.
It was a talent search of sorts. Anyone could enter any of four categories… singing, dancing, acting or modeling. Long after Jenna was done singing her song, we stayed and watched every single person in each category. Now, THAT was inspiring! It’s not that we saw such greatness, though we did see some. We heard an incredible version of "His Eye Is On The Sparrow" and a moving rendition of the National Anthem. Perhaps the thing as striking as his wonderful voice was that it was sung by a young man, who may have only known English as his second language. The applause broke out before he was completely done. It was that good.
I learned long ago, however, that things don’t have to be "good" or "perfect" to be inspiring. Tonight, it was that we saw real people, trying their best, regardless of age or ability… all believing in a dream. I saw genuine brotherly love as many cheered each other on – entering the room as strangers and leaving as fans. Even the most nervous and rattled that could barely find their voice, were encouraged. One young man in particular could simply not sing the song that he had planned. He opened his mouth and nothing came out. Embarrassed and a bit downtrodden, the judge talked to him a minute and encouraged him to go to the end of the line and try again in a few minutes. He made his way to the end of the line, head hanging down and leaned on the wall with a sense of despair. At that moment, EVERYONE was pulling for him in their hearts. You could sense it in the room. (I, of course, began to cry). It wasn’t long before another young man who had already taken his turn, walked from the back of the room, put his arm around the discouraged singer and spoke some words of encouragement. None of us could hear what he was saying and someone else was singing in the meantime, but it was a powerful moment nonetheless.
I thought about the "auditions" that this life brings our way. Some we are prepared for… others we are not. They are opportunities that present themselves, sometimes to our delight and sometimes to our dismay. They may showcase the very best of our abilities. At other times, for whatever reason, they do not do our gifts justice. We walk away with heads hanging down possibly thinking that we will never try THAT again! Tonight showed me that one of the factors that can make it the most encouraging or discouraging experience, is the audience that we are in front of. The girls in back of Jenna, leaned forward and congratulated her on doing a good job. I told the young lady who had been sitting next to me (perhaps 25 or so), what an awesome job she did as she returned to her seat. And, I smiled and patted the back of an eight or nine year old girl in front of us whose mom was clearly disappointed but kept trying to tell her daughter otherwise. If I could have found the "Eye is on the Sparrow" guy, I would have wholeheartedly congratulated him for inspiring us all!
For most of us, life gives us more opportunities to be part of an audience, than to have the starring role. Can we be encouraging, even when someone is better than us? Can we genuinely extend our hearts to those who have fallen short of expectations… either ours or their own? Will be join in and clap along to the song they are singing or will we sit with arms folded, quietly judging or silently hoping that they won’t do as well?
I encourage you to be the kind of person that rides along with your family or friends, wherever their dreams may take them. It may be the most inspiring part of your day!