Tuesday, September 4, 2012

once there was a girl...

Once upon a time there was a girl who went camping with her family. This girl loved camping and spent most of the week swimming, taking pictures, and reading (three things which she enjoyed very much.)
There was talk of more swimming after supper one night, when the girl's uncle decided to attend the campground talent show instead. This girl (who was a very indecisive sort) couldn't decide whether she wanted to stay at the campsite and read (with the possibility of more swimming later) or go to the talent show with her uncle and cousins.

Finally she decided to attend the talent show, because she'd missed the one held the previous year. As she sat in the warm auditorium, watching kids take their turn at the stage (some hula-hooping, some cartwheeling and somersaulting across the stage) she was happy she'd come. Nothing spectacular was happening, no particular talents revealed, but the kids were cute and that was enough.
And then the atmosphere changed, because someone a little older stepped up to the microphone. He was a fairly ordinary-looking teen with a guitar in his hands, and the girl didn't see anything special about him at first. He introduced himself and his younger accompaniment (also playing guitar,) and strummed a few chords before launching into a worship song.
At first the girl had to choke back laughter, and she could see her cousins doing the same. Neither of the two boys were particularly skilled on their instruments, and the voice of the boy singing wasn't amazing either. After her first repressed giggle she felt ashamed of herself for almost laughing, and then embarrassed for the two boys onstage.
The first half of the song (which she was already familiar with) passed by slowly, the girl counting the notes and praying that it wouldn't drag on too long, for the preformers' sake. After a while, however, as she watched, she started to realize that while the people in the auditorium might not have appreciated the song fully, there was someone far more important who did. Someone who didn't care that the guitars missed many notes. Someone who didn't care that the singing was mostly off-key.

And then the girl realized that if God loved the music, who was she to say that it was terrible? If God was pleased by the boys' willingness to sing praise to him in a room full of strangers, why should she scorn them?
When the song finished, the older boy darted down the stairs, conferred with the master of ceremonies, and then bounded back up, explaining that he was going to sing another song, this time by himself. And yes, the girl's first reaction was the thought "no, just sit down. For your own good, sit down." She shoved this thought away, though, and looked back at the singer, ready to contemplate this epiphany as he sang.
Amid the jeering, taunting cheers of other boys in the back, he sang. And as he sang, the girl tapped her foot to the music and enjoyed it. Enjoyed how free this boy was to sing to Jesus, unafraid. Enjoyed how genuine he was, and how far he was willing to go with that sincerity. Enjoyed seeing someone her own age who was unafraid to worship God in public, even if the world might scorn him for it.
She wished she were that fearless.


Because, this girl? She cared a lot about what other people thought of her. She didn't realize how much she cared until she saw how much the boy onstage didn't. Until she realized how much of a difference there was between the two of them.
Why was there such a big difference?
The boy onstage kept singing and the girl sitting in the chair below kept thinking. Kept tapping her foot and listening to his music and enjoying it not because it was good but because the singer meant it.
And isn't that what really counts? Not what's on the outside, after all, but what's written on the heart. The girl swayed to the music and wondered, how was it possible that the things she thought she knew turned out to be the ones that she most needed to learn?
That night, she learned a lot. Those two songs seemed to last for an eternity, but it was good. Lots of learning can be crammed into an eternity, and as he stepped down from the stage the girl down below clapped hard, trying to comprehend it all. She'd been told over and over that "it's the inside that counts," but she'd never really believed it before. She sat there that night and for the first time really understood that the outside actually doesn't matter at all.
It didn't matter how good or bad she looked on the outside...what mattered was her heart. And suddenly what she wanted most in the world was to be like the boy onstage. To be so sincere and genuine on the inside that it shows, even on the outside. The girl didn't want to worry so much about what others thought of her that her own thoughts - and God's - didn't matter anymore. She wanted to stop being afraid of failure, because she was starting to figure out that sometimes the journey is more important than the destination.
After the talent show was finished and people were filing out, the girl pushed her way through the crowd in the opposite direction, her heart pounding in her ears. She wanted to say something to the singer, to let him know how important his music had been to her. The closer she got to him, the harder her pulse beat, because talking to complete strangers freaked her out a little. When she finally got close enough to reach between two people and touch his arm, she'd realized that he was older, taller, and more intimidating than he'd looked onstage, and her hands shook as she tried to make eye contact while talking to him. All she ended up saying was that his singing had touched her, but it was enough for both of them.
When the girl went back to her campfire that night, she spent some time thinking, trying to recapture every single moment of the night so she wouldn't forget anything important. And as she stared at the flames, she resolved to come home and write a blog post about that night, so that maybe somebody else would learn something new, too...
(and, in case you hadn't already guessed...most of you know this girl pretty well. Her name is Olivia and she keeps a little blog called "Epiphanies," and she's still contemplating the radical-ness of that night, because it's too big to be grasped right away.)


  1. Wow. Great post! I needed to remember that today. Thanks!

    1. Thanks, Maddy. :) I'm really glad you liked it.

  2. What a great story! I often struggle with feeling like I have to impress others or put on a show for them. I love the reminder that God loves my heart, and if I'm using my talents for Him, that's all that matters. Awesome reminder!

    (PS: I saw your comment over at the Go Teen Writers site and thought I'd come over and say hi. :-))

    1. Thank you so much for your kind comments! :) I'm really glad you liked it. I learned a lot that night...and I learned even more typing it all up. :)

      (I'm glad you did! :) It's always great to meet another writer!)


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