Wednesday, February 10, 2010

"Why Can't the People Just Sing?"

My daughter Noelle and I were flipping through the channels last night, and we landed on American Idol.  We are not among the millions of people who watch this program regularly.  :)  We have viewed the program together in bits and pieces over the years, but it simply isn't something that has really grabbed our attention.  And since 9-year-old Noelle was oblivious to the point of the program - somebody winning something when it's all over with - she was watching the singers and the judges with such innocent eyes, and I loved watching her watch the program, and I loved hearing some of the things that came out of her mouth as she watched.

Up till now, the connection that Noelle has made with talent judge Simon Cowell has been mainly from his appearance as "himself" at the end of the Shrek 2 DVD, in which there is an added bonus spoof at the end called "Far Far Away Idol," with acts such as the Three Blind Mice singing "I Can See Clearly Now," Pinocchio doing some robotic movements to "Mr. Roboto," Captain Hook singing "Hooked on a Feeling," and the Three Little Pigs joining the Big Bad Wolf on "Hungry Like the Wolf."  Cowell's comments to these "acts" were of course judgmental, but comical, such as "Come on, get real, Pinocchio," and his agreement with Tinkerbell on Captain Hook's performance: "Hook, line and stinker."

But Noelle didn't consider Simon as being very comical while he was doing his stuff on American Idol last night. After hearing some of Simon's remarks and after seeing some of the contestants crying as they were rejected and sent home, she protested, "Simon sure is picky." Indeed, he is, and you and I 'get' that. It's about ratings. It's about judging performances and eventually picking a winner. But Noelle also said something else that made this daddy well up, even though she had no clue how profound and life-affirming it was. See, you and I, with our "mature" understanding of "the way the world works," may have grown oblivious and cold to what "immature and naive" eyes see. What innocent little children see, before having tasted some of the nastiness of the world, is so sweet - and encouraging and uplifting.

Again, after hearing some of the harshness of Simon's judgments toward the singers, and seeing how sad and dejected the contestants were, Noelle ever-so-innocently spoke what was in her heart and said, "Why do there even have to be judges anyway? You know how everyone has different opinions anyway, right? Why can't the people just sing?"

Let me repeat that last sentence, for emphasis:  Why can't the people just sing!

Why do we have to pick apart each others performances? Why do we have to judge one another according to what we see outwardly? You know I'm not talking about the show anymore.  American Idol will continue, and people will continue to be put on display in front of millions of other people, only to be told by three or four judges (and eventually by the votes of millions of viewers) how wonderful or how pathetic their performance is. But you and I - why do we have to judge the outward appearances and performances of each other?

Aren't we all different? And diverse? And isn't that a good thing?! Don't we all have different tastes and abilities and ways and styles? Don't we all have different journeys? We give lip service the idea that it's a good thing that we're all unique, but by the way we judge and pick on one another, you'd think that it's only good to be unique if your uniqueness is something I like!  If I don't like your uniqueness, then it's no longer a good thing, and so I'll judge you for it and pick you apart for it.

I don't want to be like that.  I want to celebrate who you are and I want you to know that you are wonderful just as you are, even if you're not anything like me!  I want to celebrate that God has not made you like He has made me, but has done a perfect job with both of us!  I don't want to care about what it sounds like when you sing.  I just want you to be free to sing!


  1. Just beautiful Joel - love it!!

  2. Your daughter sounds like a sweetie! I agree with her that everyone should be free to sing, but I don't think that means they should all get a microphone hehe.

  3. Seriously! That made me well up as well! God has some good things ahead of sweet Noelle! I don't understand why this has to happen, but I have come to conclude that we are all just different and we all have different struggles! I'm just glad God loves and forgives us all!
    Thanks Joel! :)

  4. Your daughter definitely has a point. Just leave me alone and let me sing! :-D
    On the flip side of this coin--the contestants no doubt know of Simon's cruelty to contestants and got up there anyway. I think too often on 'life's stage', we allow other's opinions of us to dictate our emotions. Our minds need to be on what God thinks of us, and of course, without faith, it's impossible to please God. If we take our thoughts captive, we may be better equipped to deal with the Simons of the world, and cast our cares on Jesus--and get off the stage! lol

  5. Jul... haha! I agree, everybody should be free to sing, but others should not be forced to listen to them. hehe. The main thing is that people feel free to be who they are.

    Julie... I saw your comment on the FB page, but somehow I didn't see your comment here until just now! Amen... we're all different, and we're all on different journeys, and it's a wonderful, wonderful thing that God loves, accepts and forgives us all!

    Amazing Grace... That's a great way to look at it. No doubt we all run into "Simon's" all throughout our lives, and instead of letting them dictate our self-worth, we definitely need to understand and live in the reality of God's high opinion and view of us!

  6. Joel, i agree with you and your intelligent young daughter - why can't we just sing. I think God listens to the song from our heart more than from our lips. Wasn't it in moses' time somewhere in scripture that the singing was described as noise? And yet, it was probably skillful to our ears..

    There used to be a woman in my home church who sang so badly i just couldn't stand near her in church. I was told she was also a worship leader in her small group. I never knew that a person really existed who so completely couldn't hear what key she was singing with. It was truly awful to my ears... But i new that God was pleased w/ her as she sang with her hands raised, and with such abandon, and was obviously having a private moment with the Lord in worship...

    He hears the song of our heart!

  7. so-unbelievably-heartbroken... Yep indeed, the substance of worship is not in the look or the style of it; it's in the heart and in the fixed attention on Jesus Himself, not on outward appearances.