Have you ever accidentally fallen down one of those rabbit holes on the internet?
You thought you were looking up a recipe for sweet potato waffles and suddenly you’re reading every article ever written about the 1947 Black Dahlia murder.
On YouTube it can be even worse. Sometimes my phone will die in the middle of a video on how to perm your eyelashes or a documentary about Nick Jonas’ latest album and I have no idea how I got there.
Recently, I found myself falling down one very specific YouTube rabbit hole: talent show auditions. You know the type: panel of judges, nervous contestants, a perky host. There are two types of these videos that end up going viral: the jaw-dropping amazing auditions (usually complete with a tear-jerker backstory) or hilariously awful trainwreck auditions. I was on my 23rd video of type #1 before I realized that it was 3:00 in the morning and my pillow was damp with tears.
It wasn’t just because of the disturbingly strong pull of the internet-rabbit-hole-effect. There was something captivating about these particular videos that I couldn’t quite explain. Yes, I was happy that the adorable 12-year-old with a magic set of pipes was getting a shot at her dream. But it was more than that – something about the whole (obviously choreographed) charade touched a tender spot in my heart.
There’s just something about being wanted and chosen when door after door has been shut in your face.
Something about being given what you know you don’t really deserve.
Most of the videos I watched were from the shows The X-Factor and America’s Got Talent, because there’s something even more stirring about their particular set-up.
The way they’re judged feels a lot like standing trial. They’re up on stage, with a row of judges just waiting, a finger ever so casually hovering over their black “X” button, waiting for a chance to lower it and crush a dream. The judges have all the power – they can destroy a lifelong hope or inspire another surge of passion with a single word.
But there’s another option most of the contestants seem hesitant to even mention for fear of appearing too expectant, too hopeful – the golden buzzer. When a judge hits the golden buzzer, they aren’t just giving them a pass through a set of auditions, they’re choosing them. It’s more than a vote of confidence, it’s picking them for their team.
I realized then that I am standing on that stage. But instead of defying expectations like a kid wonder, my voice is clunky and off-key, my jokes fall flat and my art is unsightly. I’m awkward and untalented. And everyone in the audience knows it almost as deeply and painfully as I do. And still, He hits the golden buzzer.
Watching these auditions reminds me of both some painful memories and the greatest moments of my life.
It reminds me of each and every day that I’ve stood before an audience of many and pleaded with them to pick me. I’ve tried my hardest, performed my best, and used everything I have to convince them that I’m worth choosing. And I’ve been booed off the stage more times than I can count.
But these auditions also remind me of the option I have every day to perform for an audience of One.
An audience that does more than offer halfhearted encouragement for my pitiful performance, an audience that sees all my failure and inability and still chooses me. Not just with one vote among many, not as a reluctant act of sympathy.
No, He slams a mighty hand down on that golden buzzer and confetti flies around the room in a display of utterly extravagant grace.