A Proud Father

A scene on American Idol reminds us of God's unconditional love.

Posted in , Jan 20, 2015

Ashley Stehle audition audition. American Idol 2015.

People fascinate me. I love to watch their mannerisms, how they interact with others, how they fix their hair and what they wear, so it probably is no surprise that I enjoy some of the reality television shows. They’re like a smorgasbord of people-watching for folks like me.

I especially love the try-outs for American Idol. The music is great–or not-so-great–depending on who is at the microphone. I mean, sometimes it’s like the contestants forgot to pack their talent when they left for the show.

And, oh, the people! Cowboys, soldiers, teachers, moms, folks with huge personalities, and others who seem so shy that you’re amazed they didn’t pass out while auditioning for the judges. Add in accordions, banjos, guitars, blue hair, and outrageous outfits, and it’s a feast for the eyes and ears.

Sometimes it’s apparent immediately when special contestants takes their place on the stage–due to their talent, personality or life stories. I love to root for them, silently begging the judges to give them one of the golden tickets to Hollywood.

That’s what happened on one of the shows last week. Host Ryan Seacrest did a preliminary segment about the families who provide wonderful support for the contestants. The camera panned to 15-year-old Ashley, her mom and dad, and her brother.

Ryan asked Ashley about her parents and she told him how both of them had been deaf her entire life. Her eyes sparkled as she shared that over Christmas her dad got a new hearing device that allowed him to hear her sing for the first time.

Ryan said, “What was his reaction?”

Ashley replied, “There’s no words.” Yeah, by this time I was sitting there wiping away tears as I imagined the specialness of that moment for both father and daughter.

In a departure from the norm, Ashley’s whole family walked into the room for her audition. Judge Jennifer Lopez asked Ashley why her family was there, and she told about them being deaf.

And then she shared with the judges about the new technology which allowed her daddy to hear her sing for the first time. She touched the device clipped on her dress, “I’ll sing into this receiver, and it will pick it up and send it to that little box on his chest, and he’ll hear me sing.”

All three judges were visibly moved by the story.

Ashley began to sing. Her daddy’s face beamed with joy and pride as he watched and listened to his daughter.

I was so disappointed for Ashley and her family when none of the judges voted her on to Hollywood. She was obviously crushed as she walked out of the room and down the hall. She vowed to come back again, and then she said the words that made me cry a second time, “I made my dad proud. That’s all that counts.”

The look on Ashley’s dad’s face as he listened to and watched his baby girl melted my heart. It didn’t matter to him that she’d gone off-key or was pitchy in a couple of places. It didn’t matter that she failed.

He was proud of her because she tried. There’s nothing like a father’s love–and that was his girl.

The next clip on the screen showed Ashley snuggled on her dad’s shoulder as he hugged and comforted her. What a special gift for that young girl to know that even when she messes up, her daddy still loves her and is proud of her.

And that made me think about all the times I’ve messed up, all the times when I’ve chased big dreams and failed. I’m so grateful He loves me in spite of that. I’m thankful for all the times He’s comforted me–even when I failed Him. That’s what our loving Father does.  

Despite my failures, I hope I’ve made my Father proud. That’s all that counts.

How about you?

Dear Father, my heart’s desire is to make You proud. I’m so grateful that You love me even when I mess up, even when I fail. In the hectic busyness of my days, remind me that serving You is all that really counts. Amen.

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