These are the words of encouragement I recently received from my dear daddy. And I’m serious about the encouraging part. One of the things I deeply appreciate about my parents is that they were very encouraging and proud of me. But they weren’t enamored. They showed by their words and their actions that they truly thought I could do great things, but that didn’t mean I could do anything and everything.
Take for example volleyball. This is a somewhat notorious example in my family of Amy’s limitations. In the ninth grade I decided to try out. And I made the JV team. Some would think this was a sign of my great skill. It wasn’t. I made the team only because I wasn’t the worst person who decided to try out (don’t underestimate the power of needing a 12th player)… and I had a fairly consistent serve (even if it was underhanded). Following in the steps of my brothers who were athletically dispositioned, I think everyone expected at least moderate success.
But after an incredibly embarrassing season (which resulted in my getting hit in the head with the ball, during a game on more than one occassion), it was clear to everyone that volleyball was not my sport. After one especially painful game (volleyballs hurt), my father very gently said “Amy, you don’t have to play sports if you don’t want to.” These were the words I needed to hear. And I didn’t feel belittled. In fact, the only cruelty I could accuse my parents of is that they made me finish the season… embarrassing games and all. Packers are honest, but we’re not quitters.
Now I am completely confidant that had I decided to continue with volleyball my parents would have supported me in said endeavour. But fortunately for all of us, I decided to quit. It’s a good thing, too. This girl was simply not made for that particular sport.
So then came singing. Anyone who knows me knows that I have always loved to sing. There are stories of me as a young girl standing on top of a table serenading family and friends. I sang in church on multiple occassions and I was always in choirs, even making it onto my high school’s top madrigal and show choir. This is where my talents were best used.
But I wasn’t perfect. Anyone who has heard me sing (or has sung with me) will tell you that my voice is far from perfect. I frequently miss notes and have the hardest time singing harmony. This meant that while singing was my favorite activity, I had to work hard at it.
And my parents, once again, supported that hard work. They encouraged me with my singing, but they also encouraged me to take lessons to enhance my talent. I took voice lessons throughout high school and benefitted from it greatly.
You see my parents could have told the world about their daughter’s awesome talent. I could have thought as highly about myself to audition for shows like American Idol or such… but I knew that my talent, while special, was not unique. I knew that my voice was pleasant and I knew that with hard work I could be very, very good. But I also knew that very, very good did not mean perfection. And I also knew that I could enjoy something and even succeed at something without being the best at it.
And this has helped me significantly in life. Failure doesn’t phase me because I know that I’m not perfect. I expect to fail at some things and it’s okay. I don’t feel like I am an unimportant person or the victim of an unfair world who doesn’t recognize my talent. No, my parents taught me that potential failure is no reason not to try something and it’s certainly no reason not to work hard at it. I may be special, but I’m just not perfect.
As a child of the One True God, I am special. Scripture is pretty clear on that. But I am special because the Father first loved me… because Jesus Christ has accepted me as His own… because the Holy Spirit is working in me to transform me into the image of Christ.
And, thank goodness, that this has absolutely nothing to do with my great talent or ability. I’d definitely be in trouble.
I am special, but I have absolutely no reason to be cocky.