When I tried out for the elite choir in high school and didn’t make it, I quit choir. At the time, I told myself it was because I was interested in other things, and perhaps that was part of the reason. I think the other part of the reason was that I did not want my friends who were in the elite choir see me on “sub-varsity” as a senior. If I couldn’t go big, I was going home.
I also tried out for a play earlier in my high school career, and I didn’t make it. I was told if I did a little set design and worked behind the scenes for awhile, I would eventually learn enough to try again and perhaps make it. In other words, I had to do the time in order to earn and be ready for a place in the spotlight. I decided, however, that I was done. If I couldn’t go big, I was going home.
This Sunday’s readings touch on humility. I think a major component of humility is staying the course when all you want to do is go home. It is about working behind the scenes and sometimes being in a supporting role. It is about finding value in the lessons you learn from letting others teach you. Perhaps if I stayed with singing in the choir I would have had a great experience, and I would have learned a lot that would have made trying out for the college choir easier. Perhaps if I had done a little set design, I would have learned what it takes to be a good actor. I may have never been an excellent singer or a great actor, but that is not the point. I could have supported others and learned who I was in the process.
Humility, to me, is also about learning and becoming who you really are instead of trying to be somebody else. My oldest son is in first grade, and this past week we were battling spelling words. Spelling words is a challenging thing at 7PM on a school day for any kid, but particularly for a kid who has been working extra hard to hear all day. He was exhausted, I was exhausted. And at one point, he just said “I’ll never be able to do this mom. I should just stop.” I know he sees this reading and spelling thing as easy for others and not for him. And he’d rather not try than show up and fail. I wonder a little if inside of him he is thinking “If I can’t be the best, I’d rather just not try.” I can’t speak for him, but I know that is what I’d be feeling – If I can’t go big, I’m going home.
All I want for him, however, if I’m honest, is to be the best at being the person God created him to be rather than the best speller or reader or singer or actor. I know that with the utmost certainty… so why don’t I have the same standards for myself?
Let us take this week to work at becoming even more our true selves so that our individual lights may join others in one brilliant display.