I’m resting in the glow of support from my Ordination day. It was an outpouring of love from so many family and friends–new and old. I saw a picture that my precious mom posted on FaceBook of the two of us. There I was in my Reverend robe and stole. (I look forward to sharing the story of my path and that service in another blog.) But as I was reading my mom’s post, I was challenged by the thought of what it means to actually be a supporter.
By definition support means to hold up, to encourage, to comfort, or to corroborate. I have been thinking a lot lately about how supporting others is part of my call not only as a Reverend, but also as a human.
We are created for relationship. We are meant to share journeys with people, whether that be our families, partners, friends, mentors, followers, or leaders. We should not only be supporting one another but celebrating each other as well. I feel that usually we are able to more easily be comfort to someone in their pain, but in their triumph, in their highest achievements somehow we let our own insecurities and selfishness get in the way. We mourn with those who mourn, but do we truly rejoice with those who rejoice?
I grew up in the arts and was exposed to great talent in the areas of music, theatre, and dance. I found my place here. I grew to respect talent and performance when done with heart, passion and excellence. I started out simply as an admirer of other’s talents and eventually that matured into being a supporter of the same. When I moved to Nashville in 2002 to become a part of the Christian Artist group, Avalon, I was ecstatic not only to be a part of this group but to be able to be a part of an industry (Christian Music) with so much diverse talent. I soon realized that being a “supporter” was not necessarily encouraged here. There were these spoken and unspoken rules in the music industry about needing to be the best and what that should look like. An “Artist” doesn’t sing background vocals for others and doesn’t show up at someone else’s concert set. Each record label wanted their artist topping the record sales charts, the radio charts, and winning the coveted dove award. In the midst of all our striving to beat out our competition we missed the beauty of each other. We missed how we all complimented one another. We were unable to savor the impact of the whole.
Now to be clear I am competitive. In fact it’s my 2nd highest strength on the “Strengths Finder” test. But I realized a long time ago that our greatest strengths are also our greatest weaknesses. Strengths are where we have the opportunity to excel in the beauty of our humanity or to digress into the worst of what we can become. So being competitive can either drive me to compete against others in order to beat them and celebrate my own little accomplishments by myself at this imaginary finish line, or it can cause me to recognize the beauty and excellence in others and allow that to drive me to be a better human. In choosing the latter way of being competitive we actually learn to honor each other. We can rejoice in our humanity when it’s at it’s best. We can support with no agenda other than to bring joy to the one being supported.
This idea of being a supporter extends far beyond just the arts community. It means showing up, not just to concerts and platform events but just in life. We (I too need this) must learn that the gift of our presence speaks volumes to people, to know that life is hard enough already and we are meant to be gifts to one another, to not only share life but to actually applaud it.
I am trying to do this. I readily admit that I fail a lot. I’m thankful that the people around me know that and they give me a lot of grace.
I’ve realized that the ways of supporting one another can vary from showing up to a house concert for my friend’s group Youngest Daughter, or liking the Art on Facebook of my gifted friend Shari Lacy or in promoting my friend, Ian Cron, in his re-release of one of my favorite books. Our support can also be shown in a simple tweet of affirmation (I was showered with them on my ordination day and it meant the WORLD to me) or support can be in a card we actually take the time to write. You see, we matter, our words matter, our presence matters.
We humans, you people, are good. You are beautiful. You are brilliant. You are talented. When you are hurting I want to cry with you. When you excel, I want to cheer you on.
I wonder if we can be a generation that looks out for beauty, for goodness, for excellence, for effort, for all the things that set us a part as the human race from other created things and then choose to support and celebrate it? Can we actually change the culture of our Arts industries or whatever work environment we find ourselves in?
If we do so then I think we will experience the scriptural idea of “iron sharpening iron”. We will not only watch and support others excel at their lives but we will excel as well. We will support each other through our hardships and through our pain as well as through our accomplishments and our successes.
We will be FOR one another in word and in deed while living in the midst of societies and cultures that choose not to be. We will be different and we will pray that our different ways will become our normal.
Then I think that we will realize that our normal was the intended way all along.
Photo by demxx, Creative Commons via Flikr.