Having kids generally means that you are expected to attend things like ballgames, dance or piano recitals, awards ceremonies, and school programs. As parents, we put on our game faces and smile as though we’d rather be no where else on earth than sitting listening to twenty five other kids plunk their way through their rendition of “Who knows what that song is” while you wait for your kid’s two minutes of fame on the stage.
When my oldest son was ten, he swam on a swim team for the local YMCA. Every Saturday during the season, we sat through four hours of swim meets to watch our son swim from one end of the pool to the other for no more than thirty seconds at a time. All added up, he was probably in the water no more than three minutes the whole four-hour meet. It was painful. While there were several places I would have rather been, I would not have missed those three minutes for all the chocolate in Hershey, Pennsylvania.
This weekend, I sat through yet another school program to see my kid on stage. It was the local talent show sponsored by the schools in our town. My son’s band was playing, and they had secured the coveted last spot in the show. They were the closing act. I wanted a good seat for the performance, so I arrived early. Two more hours for another three-minute payoff.
One by one, the students performed for the chance to be dubbed “most talented” and take home a trophy. Lots of them were quite good. There were singers, dancers, pianists, and other more unusual acts. One kid yo-yoed. Yep. For three minutes. Three minutes can feel like a lifetime when you are watching someone yo-yo.
And then it was her turn. She was the last of the middle school students to perform before intermission and the high schoolers started. She walked out onto the stage, and an uncomfortable silence fell over the crowd. You could feel it. The girl was a good bit overweight. She appeared awkward out on that big stage by herself. As everyone fidgeted in their seats waiting for her to sing, I hoped against hope that she would be a good singer. No, a great singer. I really wanted her to belt it out like Susan Boyle on Britain’s Got Talent.
And then she started. She sang an acapella number. She had a great big voice, but it was… well… it was bad. It pains me to say, but it’s true. I’ll give it to her, though, she kept going, and by all accounts she was pleased with her performance. I was proud of the crowd because everyone clapped enthusiastically when she finished. I couldn’t figure out if they were just happy for it to be over, or if they truly were trying to encourage her. She took it as the latter, waved to the crowd, and exited the stage.
I’ve thought of that young girl a lot in the last few days. I’ve thought of how the world looks upon people like her. We are so judgmental. We look at others, and ourselves, through very critical eyes. We judge people as unworthy who do not measure up in either their physical appearance or ability. We put others down in order to lift ourselves up, but even when we look in the mirror at ourselves, we see the flaws we hope no one else notices.
The truth is we often undervalue ourselves and others. We have a hard time looking past what we can see to the things we cannot see, but God looks upon us and smiles. The things we see as flaws He sees as interesting details that make us unique. He fashioned us all as one-of-a-kind masterpieces, and when He looks upon us, He smiles at His creation.
I am sure, as we all sat feeling uncomfortable while she sang, God looked upon her with a smile. He felt none of the awkwardness we felt. He knows she can’t sing, I mean he did choose her gifts and abilities, after all. Yet she was willing to take a big risk, and it was God who gave that ability to her. One day I think He will probably have her use that ability to risk big for something great. I really hope so…
What is it that causes God to smile when He looks upon you? You are His delight, after all…