Their excitement when they get the golden ticket is palpable. You can’t help but share in the joy of these complete strangers, knowing the years of hard work that led up to this moment. The thing that kills me, is that it’s no secret to the viewers how hard the journey ahead will be for these dancers. This reality show, “So You Think You Can Dance”, is certainly a harsh reality for every dancer but the one that makes it through literally hundreds of cuts to claim the top spot, board the “hot tamale train” and celebrate what was once a far-off dream.
Our oldest is preparing to make his confirmation this year and, for some reason, this step in his faith all started to make sense to me in the context of this reality-tv world that has inundated our culture. In receiving the sacrament of confirmation, my son is essentially completing what is required of him for his faith formation. For years, he has studied the dance steps and he knows the routine to follow in order to live a life of faith.
In a sense, although a strange analogy, his confirmation is like the golden ticket. It’s an honor for sure to be confirmed, and he’s certain to feel the excitement and pride of the gift of the Holy Spirit, but as a more seasoned adult, I’ve seen, lived and know the many roadblocks that could make that golden ticket feel more like a cross than a win. Choosing to follow God rather than the more popular culture of “doing what feels good, when it feels good” is the more challenging path by far, but if he can keep his eye on the prize, it will all be worth it in the end.
And so, amid the joy I have for him to receive such an incredible blessing, the reality of the cross brings me to my knees and commits me once again to the only place I know to go as a parent-that of prayer.
I pray, my son, that the glare of the golden ticket does not blind you of the hard work that you must always put in to your faith, that once the blisters and sore muscles creep in, you push through the discomfort and persevere on the path God has laid for you. I pray you have the courage and humility to let God lead the dance, hold on tight and enjoy the beauty and peace of moving in rhythm with that of your Creator.
I pray you are the survivor of every challenge life throws your way; that much like the men and women you love to watch on tv fighting for the title of sole survivor, you are able to withstand the storms, learn from moments when you are blindsided by the friend you trusted most and treasure those that are willing to lend you dry socks to get through the night. I pray you remember in this game called life that “fire represents life; once your fire is gone, so are you.” Of course in this analogy the fire is that of the Holy Spirit and the truth is one in which life only makes sense when you are guided by and living for something much bigger than yourself.
This life, my sweet boy, will run the full gamut of emotions so perfectly embodied by the ever-popular emoji s that too often do the talking for us. There is sure to be joy, laughter, and tears of both the latter. My prayer is that these tears of happiness far outweigh any shed in sadness or fear. There will be times you will feel certain and confident and others that are overshadowed with doubt and anxiety. I pray your faith will be strong enough to feel deep gratitude in the times of joy and trust that the more challenging moments will pass.
You may experience chapters of life that cause you to question God’s presence and leave you searching for proof of His love for you. And then later on in your own unique story, you will find yourself putting all the pieces together and even be able to thank God for preparing you and refining you in ways only He fully understood at the time. Which, my special guy, brings us full circle with the comparison of your faith to the training of a dancer. Your relationship with God will be a constant work in progress and it will never be perfection. There will always be room for improvement and your level of commitment will directly correlate with the reward. Know that your Dad and I will be in the audience for each and every performance, cheering you on and praying that, through it all, you hold tight to His hand and just keep on dancing.