Recently my oldest daughter auditioned for the Olathe, KS Youth Symphony. She did amazingly well and we are all anxious to find out if she made the team, but really in my mind she already passed the test. The story isn't about making the symphony, but her accomplishment of overcoming fear.
Maelee wasn't interested in being a part of the audition process. In fact, she expressed zero desire to be a part of the symphony at all. Not because she really doubted her skill, but because she didn't feel like going through the process. What it boiled down to was simple: Fear of rejection.
During the car ride to the audition, I asked her if she was nervous. Her response was, "yeah...a little". I prayed with her as we drove to the audition and she seemed to be a little less anxious. We arrived at the audition 40 minutes early, plenty of time for her to play through the song and scales before her appointment. Initially, it was us and two other students in a large orchestra room warming up. She played her violin over and over while more students began piling into the room with cellos, clarinets, bassoons and other violinists. I watched as she realized she wasn't the only violinist auditioning. Then it hit her...she pulled her violin from her chin and walked over to me with panic in her eyes...she whispered, "Dad, these kids are better than me." It was what I was waiting for during this whole ordeal. The moment she was faced with the possibility of rejection.
There were a couple of options I could take at this moment.
- Baby her. I could lie to her and tell her, "Oh honey...these kids aren't as good as you". While I'm a dad and want to deep down believe that, the truth is, some of the students auditioning were on child prodigy level playing. They were all pretty darn good. If I lied to her and said "they're no better than you are"...she would think I was foolish and would possibly never believe anything I tell her again in these scenarios.
- Teach her. I was looking forward to finding the teachable moment for my daugher in this process. I was handed a softball and decided to give her a lesson on trusting God, living out Proverbs 3:5-6, acknowledging the Lord in these moments and simply being ok with a possible
rejection knowing that her dad and her God were already proud of her for having the courage to accept the challenge to try. My words to her were, "Maelee, if you don't make it, what's the worst that can happen? You get told no and you learn how to become a better player."
Parents, it's ok to allow your kids to get their feelings hurt when they are rejected. It's ok to push them
to try things that stir up fear within them. What's not ok is how we sometimes let what WE want best for them to get in the way of what is TRULY best for them. Our kids don't need to be lied to, but rather taught through these opportunities. The first two weeks of American Idol are filled with people auditioning for the show who never had an honest parent or friend tell them the truth.
What I discovered this past week was how rewarding it is as a parent to see my kids attempting to soar.
I couldn't be prouder of my Maelee!
Now go conquer your fears and let the Lord direct your path!