February 17, 2010 // Uncategorized

Embrace the gamut of emotions bestowed upon us

All right, keep this to yourselves. Don’t tell anyone. This is our little secret.

There is only one network television show that I watch.

“American Idol.”

Shhhh. That’s just between you and me. Nobody else knows.

Actually, when I reveal this to people, particularly men, they make a face that is best described as disdain. The initial reaction is followed by a snort or a grunt, clearly indicating that I must have some defective male gene if I tune in to Simon Cowell’s cynical, mean-spirited diatribes directed at aspiring singers.

I am a sportswriter, after all. I should be watching that critical February college basketball clash between Gardner-Webb and Charleston Southern, or perhaps the important inter-conference hockey battle between the Vancouver Canucks and Columbus Blue Jackets.

Nothing against the Bulldogs (Gardner-Webb), the Bucs (Charleston Southern), the Canucks or the Blue Jackets, but I find the competition on “American Idol” more compelling, particularly since a February basketball game between Gardner-Webb and Charleston is a Big South Conference regular season game.

Checking the score the next day will suffice. Not checking the score the next day likely won’t leave a void in my life either.

I watch “American Idol” for its competitiveness, my appreciation for quality music and, quite frankly, an appreciation for sheer elation. “American Idol” is like a sporting event from a competitive standpoint, so that provides a flavor of athletic conflict upon which I thrive. Music is an ever-present component in my life. I appreciate a quality singing voice and the ability to sing well in a competitive situation.

But what really draws me to it is the elation, the celebrations among participants and families after they’ve been selected for a spot in a Hollywood tryout, signified by the golden ticket.

Have you ever seen one of these celebrations? It is sheer joy, total elation, unbridled happiness.

For many, it is a dream come true, a fulfillment of a long-held goal, or even an escape from an unsatisfactory life. Tears are shed, babies are hugged, and the families mug for the cameras to show just how thrilled they are. It is the epitome of joy.

It reminds me of my daydreams growing up. As an athlete, I fantasized about hitting the game-winning shot or driving in the game-winning run. Getting mobbed by your teammates is the ultimate experience for an athlete.

I’ve also had the incredible privilege of watching the high school baseball players that I coach form a pile of celebrating humanity in the middle of the infield when we won the semi-state to advance to the state title. These are indelible images in my mind.

Having those emotions of joy and expressing them are gifts from God. I’ve always said — half jokingly, half serious — that I don’t trust stoic people. I don’t really mean that. Stoic people are good people too, and certainly during a majority of our lives, staying on an even keel is the correct emotion to choose. But I would be a lost soul without the ability to express elation.

It’s always bugged me when people criticize those who thank God after a big victory. They say, “God doesn’t care who wins.” I won’t dispute that, but it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be thankful for the blessing God has bestowed on us. Those who genuinely make the sign of the cross or look to the heavens after a big play or a big victory simply are saying, “I am blessed, I appreciate the blessing, thank you for the blessing.”

Now the flip side of elation, of course, is utter devastation. While I would never wish despair upon another human being, the fact of the matter is that in life, particularly when we have lost a loved one, we experience the exact opposite of elation. That emotion is a gift from God as well.

We hope to limit the frequency of devastation during our time on earth, but it is a part of life and we must find a way to pick ourselves up, rise above it and move on. We often find an inner strength, a determination or a level of motivation that we might not have tapped into had we not experienced the extreme downside of life.

The reality is that there is more devastation felt on “American Idol” than there is elation. Careful editing makes sure that we see an ample amount of both.
In real life, just like in the competitive cocoon of a show like “American Idol,” we run the gamut of emotions. God gave us those emotions. Use them, learn from them, build a better you from them, and above all, be thankful for them.

Life is like a rollercoaster. Hold on tight, roll with the ups and downs, and enjoy the moment that God has provided for you. We are auditioning for something much more important than a trip to Hollywood.

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