I’ve been watching American Idol since it aired in June of 2002. I enjoyed the first few seasons greatly, but began to lose interest when I felt like the judges, specifically Simon Cowell, were more interested in getting ratings by pointing out the flaws of the talented contestants or encouraging those who the producers knew would be mocked publicly to give it their all. By the end of the 15th season, I had lost interest all together.
When American Idol 2.0 re-appeared on ABC in 2017, I decided I’d give it another go to see if any changes had been made this time around. Boy have I been pleasantly surprised. This season in particular, I haven’t been able to watch an episode without tears streaming off of my cheeks. So why such a difference now? One, the judges are truly kind people who pour themselves in to these young dreamers and genuinely want the best for them. But beyond that, what draws me in are the unbelievable background stories of the contestants. Each one stirs a desire to dream something greater for these kids than we can currently see.
We know when a young man who wakes early every day to climb on the back of a garbage truck for his day’s work opens his mouth and releases one of the sweetest sounds we’ve ever heard, that his life just changed in an instant. We know that when a young woman who has been raised in poverty by her incredibly strong-willed grandmother gets her break, that an entire family will be changed in days to come and far beyond. We all believe that if any of these young people can just get in front of three people who have the power to catapult them in a new direction that their wildest dreams have the potential to come true. And all of us love to see dreams come true. It’s why we can’t get enough of Hallmark Channel and Disney.
Do you know where that longing comes from? The dreaming? The knowing there is something so much greater than we may be able to see right now? It’s placed in our hearts at our creation. We are all given the heart to dream. To search. To wonder what’s out there far beyond what we can see.
But I think once we grow older, we begin to believe that we’re too old to dream. So, instead, we’re content watching the dreams of others come true, rather than focusing on our own.
Far too often, fear keeps us from trusting or even giving attention to that deep longing. Fear keeps us sidelined rather than in the game. Fear keeps us in the boat rather than walking on the water. Fear keeps us from living fully in the purpose we were created for. For every one of those brave kids who shows up to audition for American Idol, there are as many more who never mustered the courage to sing a note anywhere other than their own shower. Can you imagine if Carrie Underwood or Kelly Clarkson or Lauren Daigle or Mandisa or hundreds of others had never gotten the courage to sing in public how much we would have missed? We assume it was easy for them, after all, they are gifted with talent! But we know from their own stories that many of them suffer from major anxiety, depression or stage fright and they have to battle every day to keep going.
Although I have no creative ability or dormant talent, I can speak from 100% experience about what fear can do. I have spent the last twenty-five years living safely on the shore between what I call “Be Still and Know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10) and “Why are you still crying out to me? Get moving!” (Exodus 14:15). I live every day with a God sized dream in my heart that may never come to fruition in my life because, for me, the fear of failure is still far greater than the fear of regret. But I get closer to stepping out in faith every day and God has been so faithful to continue to stir the dream so it never completely dies.
What about you? Do you watch those Idol hopefuls and think, “I have a dream too?” Maybe you have talent you’ve never shared with the world? Maybe you have a story to tell that you’ve never shared? Maybe you should be in a leadership role of some kind or pouring into the lives of young women behind you as a mentor? Maybe it’s a business idea or a new hobby you want to try? Whatever it is that stirs your heart on the regular…..as long as you are seeking God’s will for your life, you can trust that He’s well aware of the desires of your heart. And He wants to fulfill those for all of us if we’re willing to let Him.
In Jennie Allen’s book, Made for This, she describes each us of as pixels on a TV screen. Individually, the pixels only appear to be small colored dots. When all are displayed together they make a beautiful picture, yet when one goes out….it creates a void that distorts the whole thing. We cannot withhold our God given gifts and dreams from one another. When we do, the picture gets distorted and loses its beauty.
I pray you do as I say, not necessarily as I have done and go chase that dream you have. If God is still moving in your heart, then He will see it through in you. It’s never too late…..until it is.