One of my closest girlfriends is the kind of person everyone needs in their life. She is witty, always up for an adventure, loves good food and drink, is very gracious and is a great encourager.
She can also sing.
When I first met her, she told me she liked to sing and does so around the house here and there. I have had the opportunity to sing with her every now and then, so I know that she can sing more than just a little. Did I mention she is also very humble?
One morning, my friend very vulnerably revealed a part of her past that meant a lot to her. She sent a video from her college days when she was in a gospel choir. She had told me about her years singing with the choir and I could tell those years had a special spot in her heart. However, she completely failed to mention ever singing a solo, let alone the runs she sang with passion and much gusto.
I watched as the skinny blonde in the video stepped up to the microphone for her moment in the spotlight. What came next was not something I was expecting. She proceeded to sing like I had never heard her sing before. Noah walked in the kitchen and found me crying. He asked what in the world was the matter and I blubbered out, “She sounds so good!”
I sent the video to our girlfriends who gave her as many high fives as I did. My friend would never share that nostalgic spotlight memory with the world, however, she thanked us for seeing her that day. Our praise was a gentle reminder of not only who she once was, but that the gift of song is just one of the many ways she was intentionally created. She is still very much that same person, just in a different season.
We all have seasons of life that friends and family may not have been present to witness. My Madison friends never knew the Portland me — the single, free, working girl that went to music concerts until the earliest of mornings. My Portland friends are not here to witness my life as a wife and mom in her early thirties.
There is no denying it. There is something that comes alive in us when others acknowledge who we have been and what we have done. We desire someone to see us. The whole us.
My grandmother was a skinny farm girl who loved to dance, wore beautiful dresses and sang soprano with a Big Band. She and my grandfather had five boys and then adopted a little girl who very much completed their family. Having been a pastor’s wife, my grandmother was always in the spotlight. For her, it was a positive experience. She served people alongside her best friend, a man people respected. They were a team and they loved people well.
My grandfather has been gone for almost 20 years. The man who knew her and all her past identities is no longer alive. My grandmother does not dance or sing with the Big Band anymore. Her friends are becoming smaller in number and the people that knew her back in the day, are no more. As I listen to her stories of years past, I want so badly to say to her, “I see you and I love what I see. You are talented, smart, and have so much to offer.”
What we are today is a small piece of the pie in the bigger scheme of life. There is so much more to a person’s story than what we see. Take time and listen. Ask questions. Don’t seek to be the center of attention. Instead, praise someone else’s spotlight moment.
“Love from the center of who you are; don’t fake it…..Be good friends who love deeply; practice playing second fiddle.”
Romans 12:10 (MSG)