Saturday, March 19, 2011

How Did I Do?

The audition was a blur.

“Very nice,” one of the judges said.

“That was wonderful,” a young woman who’d been listen in whispered as the next singer prepared to try out.

But was it?

After nudges from my husband, a couple from church, and several people who’d heard me sing the National Anthem at Little League Opening Day last year, I’d answered an open call to sing it for our local minor league baseball team.

Your audition has been scheduled for 1:30 PM, the e-mail said.

My ride dropped me off twenty minutes early. I didn’t mind at all. I figured it would give me time to relax and pray. I listened to two women try out, both of whom were great.

Fifteen more minutes.

“Are you here to audition?”

Were they talking to me?

“Oh, I’m scheduled for one-thirty. I’m a little early.”

“That’s okay. You can go now.”

I knew it would sound professional to say I wasn’t ready. “Okay,” I said.

Feeling my body (including my throat) tense up, I walked to the center of the room and picked up the microphone. I started to singing, knowing that I didn’t sound nearly as strong as the powerhouse that tried out before me. But I focused on doing my best with the voice that I had.

Next thing I knew, I was calling my ride to say I was finished already, those compliments ringing in my mind. Were they just being polite?

“How did your audition go?” A friend asked later.

“Okay, I guess.” I told her what happened.

I’d made up my mind to leave how well I did (or didn’t) up to the judges. It had happened too quickly for me to know. And maybe that’s better. I do know one thing: I don’t find myself obsessing about every possible mistake or weak note. I don’t feel like I’ll fall apart from disappointment and a sense of failure if I don’t get that desired phone call. I recognize that I did my best under not-so-perfect circumstances. I know that if I don’t make it, it wasn’t meant to be and I can try again next year. That is a huge step for me!

So in that, I guess the audition went well. It wasn’t perfect, but I responded to imperfection better than I would have in the past?

When has a disappointment, or a time when you didn’t perform as well as you would have liked to, revealed an area of growth? Ask God to help you see every opportunity, including those that don’t turn out perfectly, as a chance to glorify Him in your response.

Saturday, March 05, 2011

Skipping to the End

I’m reading a book that is extremely difficult to get through, not because it’s boring, but because the main character endures such horrific things. Knowing it’s a true story makes it even harder. The friend that loaned it to me warned me that she almost put it down several times but forced herself to stick it out. In the end, she said, seeing this man healed and transformed was worth it. Since the story hit much closer to home for my friend, she became my inspiration to give it a shot. Then the brutality got too entense and I set the book aside.

Last week at a church get together, someone mentioned this same book. “I wept over his conversion.”

Suddenly I wanted to give the book another shot. If the ending was that powerful, maybe all the prison camp violence was worth it. I’d survived the frightening scenes where he and his fellow airmen were lost at sea, surrounded by hungry sharks. But again, it got to be too much and I announced to my family, “That’s it, I’ve had enough. Tomorrow, I’m skipping to the powerful, redemptive ending.”

This morning, however, I couldn’t do it. Somehow I knew that the ending would be less amazing without seeing all that this man lived through first. I had to skim some chapters but I at least read enough to get an idea of what happened. When I’d had enough I took a break. I’m thinking of it as an exercise in endurance. Sure, there are times when it is perfectly acceptable (and also wise) to fast forward a disturbing movie scene or pass on reading a book that is too upsetting. This time, like my friend, I sense that I need to read on.

Later, I thought of the many times when I wished I could skip past my current life chapter to the redeptive ending that I’d been assured was coming. Obviously I couldn’t. In the end, the rewards were greater because of all the scenes that I had to look back on when all seemed lost. If God had allowed me to skip those parts, He would also have allowed me to miss the depth of all He had done.

What are going through now that you would like to skip over? Ask God to give you the endurance and strength to hold on, knowing that a redemptive ending is coming.