by Leigh Ellen Rodriguez
“You have a great voice for the chorus,” the director of my high school musical said. I should have taken it a compliment, I guess. But I didn’t. To me it meant my voice wasn’t good enough to stand alone. My voice was a filler, not unique, and certainly not lead role worthy.
One of my best friends had the soprano voice of an angel, and the looks to go with it. She was petite and blond with sparkling blue eyes. I felt tall and gawky with my untamable frizzy brown hair and braces. And my nondescript chorus voice. An alto voice I desperately wanted to force to be a soprano.
My adorable friend got the lead of every musical (at least that is how I remember it) while I got to be girl #2 or part of the crowd. I remember one time I got to sing a short one line solo and the director told me to watch out because I was a little “flat.” I remember thinking “Flat as in the note? Or flat as in my enthusiasm while performing?” I was too embarrassed to ask so I tried to fix both.
It is hard playing a role we don’t want, isn’t it? Don’t we all secretly long for the life of a main character? Many of us don't really want the spotlight on us, but we desire at least a defined place in the story. We want to know that we are special, unique and have a voice worth hearing.
For years I thought that meant there was always one best role, one special position. Yet I was destined for the small part, the supporting role on stage and often in life.
|My claim to fame...in 9th grade I played a bit part in our community theater and got beaten up by actor, Nada Despotivich, who later was in Jerry Maguire and Moonstruck|
If I wasn’t The One, I was no one. You could say I was ambitious, but it was much uglier than that. I was prideful. Somewhere along the way I had come to believe that if I wasn’t what I defined to be the best, I wasn’t as valuable. And the scary thing is that if you aren’t careful you start applying that to other people too. And you really miss out on the experiences along the way.
A turning point for me was at a women’s conference I attended many years ago. I remember the worship leader’s voice just amazed me. I actually prayed that God would give me a voice like hers when I got to heaven.
A few years later I was asked to sing back up for this person at a worship service. I no longer had illusions of grandeur. I knew I didn’t have near the talent she had and was thrilled to be part of the small “crowd” backing her up. My role required that I be completely tuned in to her voice, her movements and the cues she gave. I had to compliment her voice. My job was to make her sound amazing while blending with her, not competing for her role.
I was happy to be in the background. In fact, if I stood out, something would be terribly wrong. For the first time I experienced how important my role of back up singer could be. My job was to set her up, fill in the gaps and get out of the way. And if I did that, I got to be a part of something amazingly beautiful.
I have realized this applies to many areas of my life. Especially when I am trying to tune in to God’s voice. What is He saying and doing all around me? How is He moving? How can I accompany Him and not compete for the attention, glory or the control? How can I get out of the way and set the atmosphere for Him to show Himself as Beautiful? How amazing that He wants me to participate in this Story with Him! I no longer feel like "no one" when I am not "The One." The One, the Only One, has bestowed favor on me and you, and has asked us to join Him in the song.
What does that look like today?