Rehearsing What's True When Our Kids Head to Try Outs and Auditions
I’m on pins and needles. It’s because I’ve got kids who are trying out for a spot on the team and auditioning for a role in the play. It’s all knots and cold sweats and wanting to say just the right thing.
Shallow assurances come to mind first:
“You’ll do great. Look, you’re better than her.”
“You’ve been practicing for months! You’ve got this!”
“You have nothing to worry about.”
“Statistically speaking, you’ll probably make it. I’d say you’re in the top half.”
“Everything’s going to be alright!”
My kids and yours are aiming high, trying hard, and taking big risks. We want to assure them and comfort them with all kinds of “probablys,” and “don’t worrys,” and “of course you wills!”
But, the truth is, these parental phrases fall short. Our kids need a better hope than their own abilities. A better hope than probably. A better hope than comparison to their peers. A better hope than “you’ve got this.” Even a better hope than “I believe in you!”
When I renew my mind, when I remember what’s true, when I hold fast to the unchangeable, only then am I able to offer real hope to my children. As my kids head out to various tryouts and auditions this week, here are six truths I’m seeking to remember myself and to rehearse to them. I’m saying them over and over in every car trip, at every meal, in every evening prayer:
1) Your identity is not wrapped up in your performance. Your identity is a dearly loved child of God. The reason you matter is not because of how you perform, or what you produce, or what you can offer the world. The reason you matter is because the Almighty King of the Universe made you. And he is glorious, and he made us in his image, and he pronounced humans "very good” when he first made us (Genesis 1). All humans are of immeasurable worth—not because of what we can make, but because of Who made us. You, my child, were invaluable from the second God formed your inward parts and knit you together in my womb (Psalm 139:13).
2) Your security is not as a member of the team/cast/band. Your security is already certain and sealed because of Jesus. More important than any temporal role in this life is our position in Christ. Our biggest problem in this life, by far, is living in the domain of darkness (Colossians 1:13). But when the Father rescued us and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins (Colossians 1:13, 14), our biggest problem was solved forever and ever. So don’t inflate this tryout beyond what it’s really worth. Sure, making the team would be fun. But in reality, very little is riding on it. You are already secure in Christ.*
3) God is sovereign and good. He has good purposes we may not see, but we can trust him who made heaven and earth and all that we do see. We can trust the Father who sent his Son to rescue us. We can trust Jesus who “gave himself for our sins to deliver us from the present evil age” (Galatians 1:3). And we can trust the Holy Spirit who has come to live in us, to help us, and to teach us (John 14). We can trust God to carry out plans that are for our good and for his good purposes (Romans 8:28). We don’t often have the luxury of knowing why he might allow us to suffer, but we can trust that he is good in the midst of it.
4) Though painful, and I don’t desire it for you, it can be good to get cut. Disappointment, trials, and heartache can be powerful tools in the hands of our God. In fact, James tells us to, “count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing” (James 1:2-4). Life is full of cuts and disappointments and trials—but they produce in us so many important character qualities. Not making the team or the cast list can be an important part of your journey to “lacking in nothing.” Character formation in the hands of God is greater than getting a spot on the team. It’s good for us to get low. It’s good for us to walk in the footsteps of our Savior who chose humility.
5) Your healthy body and athletic/theatrical/musical abilities are all gifts from above. Is there anything you have that he has not given you (1 Corinthians 4:7)? So honor God with your body (1 Corinthians 6:20). If you make the team, and I so hope you do, do your very best because of the gifts God gave you. Fill your lungs with breath because he enables you to. Run hard because he enables you to. Cheer for your team because he enables you to. Respect your coaches because he enables you to. Be strong and confident and courageous and the hardest working kid out there, because (and only because) he enables you too. Those qualities and abilities are not from your hand—they are from his, so honor him with them. May your participation be an act of worshipping the one true God.
6) Either way, God will help you. Whether you make it or get cut, thank the Lord for his help, his grace, and his leading. He will help you handle the success if you make it, and he will meet you in the defeat if you get cut. Whether the outcome is good or bad, call on the Lord, and he will help you. You will need him in the days ahead—to sift through the highs or the lows. Find yourself in him. Rejoice in his goodness, his kindness, his strength. He is a good and kind God. Either way, draw near to God and he will draw near to you (James 4:8).
Moms and dads, as school starts back up again this month, may we renew our minds, remember what’s true, and rehearse real hope to our kids. It’s so tempting to offer them what we hear every day from our do-it-yourself world. But “you’ve got this” and “you’ll do fine” ring hollow.
Our kids need more than shallow assurances. They need to know what’s true and unchanging. They, and we, need a firm foundation in Christ alone—our solid rock, in whom we have safety, security, love, joy, freedom, and so much more—whether we succeed or not.
This new school year, let’s hold out the hope and light burden of life in Jesus, rather than the shackles of “you can do it.”
*Author’s note: this paragraph would go differently for the child who is not yet saved. The truth remains: living in the domain of darkness is the unsaved person’s biggest problem. As parents of unsaved children we must speak to their anxieties and tell them about the eternal safety and security that is only found in the salvation of our God. We strive for so many worldly accomplishments. We seek our identity in all that we can conjure up. But the best security, the best safety, the only unshakable identity is in Christ alone.