Our oldest son is finishing up 8th grade this year, and with that, we are all going through the mixed emotions of many “lasts” of his final year at his school. One of the things we’ve looked forward to all year was the school talent show. The talent show is one of the main fundraisers for the 8th grade class trip to Washington, D.C., this spring, so it’s up to the 8th grade parents to organize the show.
A few months ago, I volunteered to help with promoting the show, as well as organizing the 8th graders to be involved in showing their talents. I was thinking we should come up with a name for the show, other than “The Talent Show,” and I was hoping to find something that we could reinforce through a closing act by the 8th grade class. For several days, I walked around jotting down words as they came to mind or that I heard in songs.
When I met with another mom who was the main coordinator for the show, one word jumped out at her: “Unstoppable.” We agreed to go for it, and the more I thought about it, the more I loved that message for the show. We used Phil. 4:13 as our theme verse: “I can do all this through Him who gives me strength.” It’s such a great message, not only for using your talents to honor God, but also for a group of 8th graders about to leave the comfort of their private Christian school and head off to high school. You can be unstoppable, if you are using your life for God’s glory.
We came up with a plan that I would shoot video of the 8th graders doing the things they love to do, whether that meant playing a sport or a musical instrument, dancing, singing or just having fun. I loved the message of the TobyMac song, “Unstoppable” so that became our closing song.
The last few months, I spent many, many hours working on signs, banners and publicity, practicing acts with my son and daughter, and hanging out with 8th graders as we worked on the video. Through all of that time, I started reliving what it’s like to be in 8th grade. Many times, we would get together at the end of a long day at school. I realized that life at this age isn’t easy. You spend the day under pressure to listen in class or take tests. You get in trouble with teachers. You face drama with friendships and boyfriend/girlfriend relationships. You struggle to communicate with parents. It’s generally a super awkward time full of insecurities and doubts. And it’s also a great time of growing up and being crazy and having fun.
Each time we got together, we talked about being UNSTOPPABLE. I really wanted them to believe the message. It wasn’t just a title for the talent show, it was real life. Many times, as I worked on editing their video, I choked back tears seeing what amazing people they were becoming.
I should have expected what came next. I was devoting all of my free moments to try to convince people to be UNSTOPPABLE. I guess it’s only natural then that I would feel completely… well… stoppable. During the last two months, I was feeling discouraged by some challenges in my life. Doubts and insecurities were hanging over my head. It can be scary to use your gifts and talents. Each time you do, you open yourself up to the world, raw and vulnerable. It really does seem easier not to try. To let someone else take the risk.
Talent show night finally came last Friday. After a last-minute flurry of practicing and decorating for the show, we were ready! With 32 acts signed up for the show, I will admit I was worried it could get long and boring. But from the first little kindergartner singing a worship song to the big finale by the 8th graders, it was an amazing show. Kids sang. They danced. They did karate and card tricks. Our 5th grader and her friends did a stomp routine. And our 8th grader and his friends did an amazing job with their act, which involved bouncing basketballs to music. I sat there feeling inspired by these kids of all ages who were willing to step up on stage before an audience and let people see their gifts and talents.
After it was all over, I was taking down a big 13-foot banner I had created to hang over the stage with the word “UNSTOPPABLE.” I loved seeing that word in bright yellow letters over each child’s head as he or she performed.
Finally, in that moment, it hit me. It wasn’t just a message for 8th graders or for kids singing or dancing on stage. That was a message I needed to believe again for me. It can be scary to use my talents, but it’s not really about me. I want to use the talents God has given me to bring glory to Him. I don’t want to hide, so afraid of criticism that I’m paralyzed from taking risks. I’m thinking I need to hang that big banner somewhere in my house as a daily reminder.
I want to be UNSTOPPABLE.
How about you? Do you ever feel like giving up? Or are you using your talents to be unstoppable.