This is the story of a little girl, fun-loving, intelligent, warm. During her early years, she was blessed with the love of a supportive extended family and meaningful friendships with her peers. Only the most minimal misfortunes or disappointments have crossed her path and her life was generally good.
It’s hard to identify a single event or set of circumstances that created what I’ll call a wrinkle in her psyche, but that wrinkle rooted and grew. She developed an almost insatiable drive to be noticed.
Though short of stature, the child was blessed with a lovely voice as well as musical talent. Before she entered school, she’d already played the title part in a Christmas musical, The Littlest Angel. While still an elementary school student, she played another title role in a school-wide musical production of Hansel and Gretel. Audiences applauded the child’s clear, strong vocal delivery and the poise of her youthful presentation.
So strong was her voice, it became an issue during one choir recording session. Because of her diminutive stature, the girl stood front and center in the first row with other choir members. After an initial run-through, studio engineers suggested changes, one of which was to relocate that little girl standing in front.
Moving her to a far back row on one side of the riser provided some vocal balance, but her voice still stood out on tape replay. Eventually, she was moved behind the riser … made to stand at the very rear and out of sight of all. Mikes were adjusted and recording proceeded smoothly.
A less confident child might have been humiliated by this turn of events. Not this youngster. She considered the melodic beauty and strength of her voice an asset.
Others agreed. By junior high, speech and music teachers noticed her. One predicted he’d see her on Broadway someday. Another recruited her for a small music group. There were numerous other music groups, additional on-screen performances, subsequent recording sessions.
Of course, I am that little girl. My insatiable drive to be noticed – that wrinkle in the psyche I mentioned – has tamed over the years but has never been eradicated. I know it’s common for human beings to crave attention. Many of us have a deep hunger to be noticed, and more to the point, to have our significance validated. People who engage in performance arts are fueled and driven to attract attention.
Thankfully, my attention-seeking personality hasn’t driven me to shameless acts of self-promotion … though perhaps some would argue a personal blog qualifies as shameless self-promotion. Today, my music is mostly a private expression … no performances, no need to stand on stage.
But the little girl still expresses herself, still seeks reassurance she is significant. She elbowed my side (from within) this morning. We were in church, singing a hymn, when I noticed a woman take a seat nearby. After a moment of reflection, I remembered her name and where we’d met. I doubted she remembered me, but the little girl in my head began jumping up and down (hoping to be noticed from behind the ever-present specter of a choir riser), waving her hands, shouting inaudibly, “Remember me? We sat next to each other in your husband’s class!”
This alter-ego little girl/wrinkle in my psyche wanted to know – wanted to be reassured – I had been significant enough to be worthy of remembrance. It wasn’t enough for me to be another face blending into the crowd of church attendees gathered around us, I wanted her to know my name, just as I recalled hers.
This was the briefest of interludes because I was suddenly confronted by where I was and my reason for being there. With a still small (and inaudible) voice, I was drawn back into my worship of the living God. It was as if he spoke directly to me: I remember you. You’re so significant to me, I died for you!
Peace swept over me in that moment. As never before, I understood with freeing reassurance that the Creator of the universe knows me – by name. He knows me – ME! – and through the blood of Jesus Christ has confirmed my significance for all eternity!
Seeing my name in Broadway lights? A pale comparison. Signing a record contract or a book deal? Wholly inconsequential. Having a personal relationship with almighty God? Priceless.
Isaiah 43:1 states in part: Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name; you are Mine! There’s a song by Kelly Parks on iTunes (Track 6 on her Do Not Fear album) that beautifully develops this theme.
The little girl who once was banished behind a choir riser full of vocalists may still wildly wave her hands from time to time to attract attention. She may jump up and down to catch a glimpse of the view up front. She’s still capable of tooting her own horn in shameless self-promotion. More than anything though, she hopes (and I do as well) to always turn the attention away from herself and bow in worshipful praise to the only one deserving of praise, my Redeemer.
He has called me by my name.