Following an emotional final show that was surprisingly infused with spirituality; surrounded by confetti Ryan Seacrest spoke the final words of a fifteen year story as he looked into the camera one final time; ‘Goodnight, America.’
It shouldn’t have been an emotional moment for me, but it was.
I looked over at Michelle, “Did you cry?” I asked.
“No, but you almost did when Seacrest said that, didn’t you?”
Over the past fifteen years American Idol has become a fixture in my life. I have vivid memories of coming home from work or class in the evenings before I was married, and my mom would have chicken wraps waiting for me to sit and watch American Idol with her. We became judges ourselves, critiquing and praising Idol hopefuls as they performed.
I remember our first year of marriage, watching from the kitchen of our tiny apartment as Michelle and I would make Hamburger Helper and crescent rolls. As we transitioned from apartment, to townhouse, to house; American Idol came with us.
We shared countless dinners with my parents on TV trays in our living room huddled around the screen. With each child that came along how and when we watched the show would change, just as we did as a family, but Idol always stayed right there with us.
When our dear friends, the Mauldins’, became American Idol’s Spiritual Advisors (chaplains) for a season, our adoration for the show grew. As we got to know and became friends with a few former contestants, we enjoyed the show all the more. As Scott Borchetta joined the team our excitement escalated.
American Idol was consistent, dependable and comfortable. It was something to look forward to and something to celebrate. Regardless of what was happening in life, politics, global relations or elsewhere it was a moment of escape, together.
It is an odd thing to me, really, to be lamenting over a television show; but I think I may be.
There is no denying, however, that music is powerful. It has a transcendental ability to connect with our emotions and our spirits in a way very few forms of communication and art can.
Scott Borchetta has often been seen on the show with the phrase ‘Music Has Value‘ embroidered on his sleeve, and it is true.
The power of music, coupled with the passion of those who perform, is what continued to make American Idol resonate in our home.
Donald Miller wrote in Blue Like Jazz, “Sometimes you have to watch somebody love something before you can love it yourself. It is as if they are showing you the way”, and that is the very thing that kept us with American Idol.
I was watching people who were completely sold out for music. They lived, breathed, ate, drank and slept what they were doing, every fabric of their essence was about their music…and it is captivating to those of us who watched them.
What completely hooked us was watching people full of passion. People who loved what they did, and were completely about it.
It is as if something in all of us cries out to have that same passion about something, to live for something with such abandon that everything we do and everything we are is ‘commanded’ by that thing.
The question is… do we live that way?
Do we live in a way that others look at us and are captivated by our commitment, by our zeal, by our lifestyle and our sacrifice?
I love Matthew 5:14-16.
“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”
Are we being that light that people are drawn to? Are we being salt that creates a thirst in others?
If the ardor of a group of passionate singers can captivate American culture for fifteen years…how much more should our passion for our Savior engage an unbelieving world.
When we all say ‘goodnight’ for one final time with our lives, what will we be remembered for? It will likely be what we are passionate about.
That is the challenge that American Idol has left me with.
Thank you American Idol, for taking a place in our homes, and in our hearts. For reminding us of the value of music, and showing us what real passion looks like.
Goodbye, American Idol…’for now.’
Catch on fire with enthusiasm and people will come for miles to watch you burn. (J. Wesley)