School is finally winding down, and no, just because I’m a homeschooler doesn’t mean I don’t get a summer break. But with the end of school also comes the end of co-op, and unlike that incredibly dramatic and entirely false alarm I gave a couple months ago, this really will be my last class at Cornerstone.
But hey, all good things come to an end, and even better prospects rise up from the ashes. And no, this post isn’t about endings or beginnings or anything bittersweet, so bear with me. See, at the end of every school year, Cornerstone has a student showcase and choir concert, with the primary purpose of letting the students show stuff and the choir sing.
Bet you didn’t see that one coming.
I had several art pieces in the showcase this year, so as usual, my family managed to come out of their introverted shells long enough to do some supportive gawking. Since the choir took place before the showcase opened, it was an extra bonus, and we rolled into Cornerstone that evening, ready for a lovely night of pretty music and egotistical INTJ cackling.
As the concert began, I busied myself in finding all the people in the choir that I knew. (It was like, three people. This surprises no one.) A few of them I knew would be there, but there was one person in particular that I wasn’t expecting to see. Granted, he wasn’t someone that I really knew—we’d been in a class together at one point, and that was it. But I remember him because he was the kind of person who can’t help but make himself obvious—most of the time by only trying to be nice.
The kind of person who would try to join a conversation, but accidentally end it by saying something no one else understood. The kind of person who would get up to help you with something, only to trip over his chair and spill all his pencils across the floor. The kind of person who’s brain ran ten times faster than the rest of him, resulting in speech that tripped and tumbled and lurched, ricocheting from his mouth at a pace most of us couldn’t keep up with.
My heart had always gone out to the kid, especially since I’d overheard some girls making snide comments about him behind his back. I knew he was trying his best, and just wanted to join in the class camaraderie. Despite the awkwardness, he really was a nice guy. But the class soon ended, and I figured our paths probably wouldn’t cross again for a long time.
There he was, up onstage, singing with the choir. I was mildly surprised.
I was even more surprised when I saw his name singled out on the program.
I couldn’t help but watch him as the opening song began. As they snapped their fingers to the rhythm, he stood with arms rigid at his side, fingers splayed and trembling. Worry began to sink into my stomach. Because how was this kid ever going to sing a song by himself? He could hardly talk to someone without losing his grip on speech. Sure, his sister would be singing with him, but that’s small comfort when you’re on a stage, facing 100+ people. There was no way this could end well. None at all.
I mentally prepared myself for the worst, offering a few prayers for his sake while simultaneously cringing. The choir continued (and it wasn’t too bad, if I do say so myself), but before I knew it, the stage was empty, and there were only two microphones left—and two people to hold them.
There he was. He and his sister. Looking for all the world like he was going to throw up.
I felt rather ridiculous. Sitting there in the audience, watching a kid I technically didn’t even know—yet I was genuinely panicking for him. As he gripped the microphone with trembling fingers, I quaked for him. As he flinched when the music began, I bit my nails.
And as he began the first line of the song with only a breathy whisper, a bare shadow of a voice, I closed my eyes, heart sinking to the floor beneath me.
Then that boy opened his mouth and sang.
I learned two things that day: Firstly, an INTJ can be moved to tears by things other than fictional characters’ deaths.
And secondly, this: That we, as humans, should never (you got that? NEVER.) underestimate each other. When that guy got up there and sang, I think every heart in the building stopped. I think his did too; the stuttering that I was sure would prove to be an issue simply melted away. The nervousness evaporated. What was left was a performance raw with emotion, something so heartfelt that it brought tears to my eyes. (And my mother’s eyes, too—and she really doesn’t know the kid.) His expressions, his mannerisms, his voice. It was unbelievable, and it was moving.
And it made me wonder: How many other people have I underestimated? How many other people have I dismissed in my head, who are really harboring some incredible depth of character, or mind-boggling talent, or earth-shattering intelligence, just waiting to show itself?
And how will I ever know, if I don’t give them a chance?
The Bible says we are fearfully and wonderfully made, people. God has packed so many complexities into humankind, that our surprises have surprises. For us to expect anything less from each other is downright ludicrous.
And you know what? For us to expect anything less of ourselves is ludicrous as well.
I was inspired that night. Inspired by a boy who was shaking, yet got up there and sang anyway. Inspired by the people who didn’t believe he could do it, yet ended up having their socks blown off.
Inspired by the fact that in the midst of something most people would call a disability—a speech impediment—his voice didn’t waver one single time.
It’s inspired me to be fearless. To put myself and the things that I’m passionate about out there, to not be scared of falling flat on my face. To have enough faith in myself and God to keep me standing straight and tall, unafraid of failure and unafraid to keep trying, despite the failure.
Because you never know: One day, you just might surprise yourself.
Also, look at this crazy sunset we saw on the way out.
*wheezes for breath*
Yes, we stopped in the middle of the road to take a picture. It’s a country road, guys. You can do stuff like that on them.