What If You Don’t Feel Like Anyone’s Idol?

What If You Don’t Feel Like Anyone’s Idol? April 7, 2016


The American Idol Finale. For fifteen years we have watched as this show has turned out countless megastars. On the final show, Trent became the last Idol to become a household name, the last of the big winners, the last American Idol.

Okay, what about the rest of us?

What about you, slogging away, doing your own work day after day, and no one knows your name? What about you who are barely making it to the next day, barely paying your bills, barely finding the courage to believe that you too matter? What about you who have been cast out, wondering if anyone will ever understand and know your heart?

Many of you who have written me to share your dreams as well as your heartaches. And many, many more of you have never written. But I’m picturing all of you—you who are reaching out to make this world a better place, to make a difference in the lives of those who are hurting, to offer some service that will help people live more abundant lives. And you who are just trying to survive.

During the show, they visited the home of Dalton Rapattoni, the contestant who came in third. He was amazed at the thousands and thousands gathered in support of him.

As he rode by in the limo and saw the crowds, he was in tears. “I’ve been trying my whole life to get people to listen to me.” Now they scream to hear him.

I’d be in tears too, wouldn’t you? Just imagine. If you had been singing, or speaking, or just living trying to discover you, and people didn’t really listen, or see you, or get you. It is terribly disheartening.

Then, one day, you come home and thousands are there to adore you, just for you doing your thing—the very thing you’d been doing all along.

It has to be surreal.

Maybe, for some of us, it would be surreal to quietly come home and receive adoration and acceptance from just our family.

But what if Dalton hadn’t made it to American Idol? Was he less valuable then? Less worthy as a person? Less worthy of the kindness and appreciation he is now receiving?

That’s where many, many of us are. Only a handful of people get to be a rockstar/movie star/billionaire. And so many many of us “want to be a billionaire so frickin bad”—not just to “buy all the things we never had” but to simply be recognized, to be admired, to be seen and heard and loved as we are. Who doesn’t want that?

Once Dalton got past the judges—huge accomplishment—he got to the voting, and people voted for him. That’s where he began to believe in himself. I think a lot of us would feel a lot better about ourselves if we just had a vote of confidence. Maybe even just the benefit of the doubt.

There is great power in simple affirmation and encouragement.

I’m here to say, YOU matter. YOU’RE valuable. YOU have gifts to offer that no one else has.

Just yesterday, a sweet young lesbian friend wrote to say she wants to make a difference. She doesn’t have “a story” – the kind that makes headlines. Not everyone does. But she has HER story.

Her story includes struggle and fear and heartache and pushing through and joy and victory. Like all our stories. It’s a story that needs to be heard, and it needs to be told, to the person next to us who’s grieving or afraid. Our stories matter as we move humanity forward.

She said, “Part of me thinks that simply living my life and loving my soon-to-be-wife is what I can do, but there is also another part of me that wants to advocate and break down those barriers, you know?”

Yes, I do know. Living your life and loving your partner and loving others and being kind—these things speak volumes. They move hearts. That’s why Jesus said: “Love God and love others. Everything else will line up under that.”

In our day of highly visible rock stars and idols we totally undervalue the dailiness of just living. If we don’t have the right look or right voice or great idea, if we just don’t “fit”—and often even if we do—we feel unseen and unheard.

I want to reach through this post to say, I see you. Not physically, but I recognize the difficulty of the things you face. I have totally been there and sometimes I am there.

I hear your cries in the night. I feel your loneliness and wrap my arms around you to say you matter.

You may be trans and you’ve never had any space to come out. You may be bisexual and neither straight or gay people get it. You may be a parent who is distraught your child is being bullied and discriminated against, and people just don’t understand.

Or you may not have quite figured out who you are yet. You may wonder how—or if—you’ll make it. You may wonder if anyone will ever hear you. I’m here to say: you matter!

You matter.

Find in my words the words you need to hear. Find the peace and freedom and permission to be you even if no one recognizes you for who you are, even if no one is listening.

You may not be an American Idol. If you are getting through one day after another when it’s hard, even excruciating, and your hope is running thin, if you endure rejection and hate beyond what anyone knows, if you have paid the price for living true to yourself, if you have paid the price for just supporting your LGBTQ child – you’re a hero.

And you are my Idol.

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