Red Letter Experiment: #3 Wilderness Temptation

sock_monkey_diva_large_mugOrdinary Schmordinary! Living LIfe in the “Lemon Light” 

A Diva is Born

When I was 16, the music director at my church asked me to fill in for a sick soloist. At 16 I was not the confidant chica I am today (scoff scoff), so the idea of singing with a microphone in front of the whole church terrified me! BUT something happened when the soundtrack started playing; the music took over and I owned that song. I sang it from then on–a case of under-understudy snagging the big part.

For four more years, I rocked the roost. I got to sing at big events for thousands and tiny events in tiny churches across my state. I started to strut a bit. Flipped my strawberry-blonde hair in its Farah Fawcett shag with confidence. Collected males across the state, breaking their hearts with abandon. Ok. I exaggerate. A few males. Ok. Three and one was a stalker. So that makes a legitimate two. But I did get cocky. A local recording studio offered me commercials (didn’t happen) and I won a state pageant. There I was–glittering, singing, standing ovations–all for Jesus. Jesus was so proud. Maybe not so much.

From the Limelight to the Lemonlight

University of Oklahoma. Switched from nursing (a mistake) to music education with an eye for becoming the next Contemporary Christian Singing Sensation. And down she went.

 The Reality

Opera? Singing in German which meant lots of spitting? Italian? How was I supposed to “feel” the music, if I didn’t understand what I was singing? What about rhythm and blues? Scatting? (Though very white, I thought of myself as a black Olivia Newton-John!) I remember auditioning for the OU choirs (we were all required to as music majors). A passel of other undergraduates were singing scales, carrying sheet music for Italian arias and I had my hymn book marked at “The Old Rugged Cross.” Eesh. Ouch. A smile and a nod later, I walked out leaving my perky dreams and confidence on the floor of the recital room. My hair sagged in disappointment. I switched out of music to education after only two semesters. Three majors by the time I finished my sophomore year. Oi.

I went from the limelight to the lemonlight in a matter of minutes. I felt like a nothing chica. Not even a chica. A girl. An ordinary education major. Plain. Unexceptional. Worthless. Ok…I was a tad over-sensitive. OK–WAY HYPER-SENSITIVE! Like Anne of Green Gables, I could go from exhilaration to the depths of despair all within 10 minutes. I still can. It’s how I’m made. If you’re a sensitive person, you know what I mean. You cry at the news or at an unkind remark and your friends and loved ones don’t know what to do with you so they say, “You’re too sensitive…get over it.” That always works (note sarcastic tone).

I meandered off topic. I am prone to wander… 

Going from extraordinary to ordinary was a tough lesson. I never set out to be ordinary. I don’t think many people do.

“What do you want to be when you grow up?”

“Oh, I just want to be ordinary. Nothing special.”

Don’t hear that conversation very often. Now middle-aged, lightly rounded, a tad saggy, baggy–I can recount numerous “ego bruises.” I receive them regularly. Just when I think I’m exceptional at something–wham–right in the kisser.

Raging Against the Ordinary

I’ll admit it. I want to be exceptional. I want to be lauded as the best at something. Or at least one of the best. Or at least better than average? Here’s an example: I’ve been teaching for 19 years (took two years off as a graphic designer) and I’ve been nominated for Teacher of the Year at four different schools. Out of the 19 years, I’ve been nominated 14 times, including this year. I have never won. Didn’t even make the final cut this year. And yes, the teacher that won is superb and brilliant and deserves the win, but my ego got a tad bruised.

Not a big deal though. I’ve learned to accept these ego bruises fairly quickly with God’s help. He reminds me that He has always used ordinary people. After all, Jesus’ disciples were ordinary folks. He didn’t go out to find the best and brightest and hunkiest in the synagogues–he collected fishermen. He added a tax collector along the way.

Jesus was ordinary, too. He didn’t glow with a heavenly aura. He didn’t travel with a heavily- armed entourage (though Peter did get a little excited with his sword). He wasn’t the Messiah/Deliverer the Jews were waiting for. Shoot, Jesus let Caesar be Caesar. He didn’t encourage folks to take up weapons and wipe out the Romans. He worked as a carpenter in Galilee until John baptized him and he went out to the wilderness and came back to redeem the whole world.

The Temptation

The second temptation was an ego temptation. Standing on top of the temple in Jerusalem, the tempter suggested that Jesus throw himself off the temple and let the angels break his fall. Wow. That would have got some Pharisees in the temple excited. They’d all rush out and see Jesus and the angels, and they’d know he was the chosen Messiah…and things would have turned out quite differently (as Satan knew very well).

Satan: Prove it. Be the Messiah. Be the Son of God. Stop this humble nonsense. Show your studly God-self.

Jesus: Don’t you dare test the Lord your God. (notice the “your”–God is God over Satan, as well)

Ordinary Life

I love my ordinary life. I love teaching my extraordinary students. I love my teacher friends. I love love love my family (especially my new-to-the-planet grandson). I love my little 1950s ranch house in Tulsa, Oklahoma. I’m ordinary. Nothing exceptional at all…except for Jesus in me. It took me almost 50 years of following Him to figure things out, but shoot, I have an eternity left.