This weekend I attended the annual Texoma NATS competition. NATS is the National Association of Teachers of Singing. Each region holds an annual convention and competition. The competition has three rounds: preliminaries, semifinals, and finals. I've never advanced past prelims, but I feel that I've been singing really well this year, so I thought if it was going to be any year, this would be it. I was wrong.
I think this year I got the worst rating, overall, that I've ever received. Several people told me they were surprised, which was kind, but in truth, I was still pretty bummed. I think it stings more because I think this is some of the best singing I've ever done. It hurts to present that and still not move on.
My dear, wonderful friend George (who gives excellent hugs) advised me to use this as motivation. I intend to. But if I'm being honest (which I should be always), the comments about motivation are starting to ring a little false to me, like tin trying very hard to be gold. And as I sat watching the finals for my division (senior women), I wanted very much to compare myself to them, or them to me, and see how I measured up. But it felt hollow. It felt false.
So many men had tried to make her a queen. Now she understood that she was meant for something more.
- Leigh Bardugo
After the results of prelims were announced, I called my mom. She put me on the phone with my sixteen-year-old, 5'10" "baby" brother. Normally Cooper isn't super easy to talk to -- he's a sixteen-year-old boy, after all. But when I confessed my disappointment to him, he said, "Sara, you know what I've learned? Sometimes God has something better."
I know. I could have reached across the miles to hug him.
I'm not meant to win. I'm made for something more than winning.
I think we spend a lot of our time in pursuit of best-ness. But we aren't made to beat everyone else.
We are made to live abundantly.
What does that mean?
It means that even if I don't win, I'm okay, because my identity isn't based on that. In fact, I can rejoice, because it means I get to live fully apart from my own effort.
It means that even after a long, emotionally draining day, I can listen to the finalists sing and ignore the urge to compare.
It means I can turn to Jesus when I'm hurting and allow myself to be loved and comforted by Him -- because He can give, but we have to receive.
It means there is joy and tomorrow and yes, there are lessons to be learned, and I can learn them, but not let them define me.
I have tried many times to win. But I am made for more than winning.
Let us remember that when we face both the bitter pain of losing and the passing joy of winning.
We are made for more than this.