When Jim and I first purchased our iPods a couple years back, making your own playlist was all the rage amongst our offspring. I can’t tell you how many seemingly endless afternoons I have spent at the computer desk as my children agonized over whether the Cake song should go before or after the Killers tune. Of course, I have made plenty of playlists myself. I have some for running, some for motivating me to get in there and clean the bathroom and some for car trips when everyone is feeling grumpy. But some playlists never make it to iTunes as they are too personal to be generated or, perish the thought, burned into actual material existence. I fear that some would seriously question my aesthetic sensibilities were I to reveal the depth of my enjoyment of the superficial.

One rather short playlist is a mental one that I doubt will ever go public. That would be my Songs-I-Could-Sing-In-Public-Only-If-Someone’s-Life-Was-Hanging-In-The-Balance (this list is very short and for some reason contains a disproportionate number of songs from the 80s.) If I were to be completely honest, as if you haven’t had enough honesty already, I would have to say that along with any visions of life-saving benefits which might be derived from my singing one of these carefully chosen ditties, there is also the fantasy of basking in a wave of Karaoke glory while onlookers sit stunned by my unknown talent.  I suppose at heart I am still that middle school adolescent, singing into her hairbrush, waiting to be discovered and admired.

Recently, as I accompanied Steve Perry in a stirring rendition of Oh Sherrie, I connected these immature delusions of grandeur with something a dear friend once said; something which was of a much deeper and more profound nature than poor Sherrie being all alone. My friend Laura is my oldest and one of my most treasured friends. A few years ago her only child was diagnosed with a serious genetic condition, requiring a bone marrow transplant and extended hospital stays. I have always known she was a person of quality and strength. After all, she has been my friend now for more years than either of us would care to admit. But during the ordeal of her son’s diagnosis and all that has followed, she has shone so brilliantly you might be tempted to look away from the light of her countenance. I mentioned this to her repeatedly and on one such occasion she said (and I paraphrase) that every woman wanted to be the heroine of some dramatic event in her life story. She felt reassured that this was her chance to be that heroine and that God was giving her the ability to not only survive but shine. Listening to her recount all the sleepless nights and endless doctor consultations was like listening to a soldier reminiscing about his days in service; though you know neither would ever what to go back, there is a bittersweet flavor to the stories.

My friend’s experience was a bit like my secret playlist, handpicked to display her best qualities and characteristics. God is, of course, shaping even the smallest events of our lives, and though they aren’t always tailored to flatter, they are always to our benefit, not to mention His glory. Just like singin’ karaoke, it’s more about accepting whatever selection you have been given than your natural abilities. Heroines (and heroes) are often those least expected to act heroically. The antagonist is the one trying to manipulate perception and circumstance to her advantage, many times having the opposite effect, while the heroine accepts whatever comes her way with humility and thus steals the show. The moral of the story? It’s less about what you sing or how you sing it and more about who you are before and after the music ends.

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