I spent most of the evening flipping between two very guilty pleasures, Scrubs and American Idol. Scrubs is the kind of show that appeals to my primal sense of humor. The internal dialogue of the main character is what attracts me to the show. Something about his stream of consciousness strikes home for me. The insecurity, insanity, grand thoughts and schemes all register with the way my mind works; and gives voice to that part of me that I would rarely show to others. My wife always knows when I am watching Scrubs because my laughter resonates throughout the hallways of our home...

American Idol is a laugh of a different kind. This is the laughter that comes from two sources in my life. The first is the painful laughter that comes when people put themselves in situations that they have no business being a part of. The second source is the laughter that comes from hearing the truth in rather course and abrupt ways. It is not that I don't have empathy for those who put themselves out there and find their hopes crushed.

It has more to do with the human condition that is displayed throughout the process. I can't sing, but that doesn't stop me from crooning in my car on the way to work, or prancing around the house when no one else is home. I can always turn the music up louder if I begin to actually hear my voice. However, I have a realistic view of my talents and gifts and know that I would never consider auditioning for a show whose purpose is to rate people on their ability to carry a tune.

My laughter comes when people do not have an accurate appraisal of their talents and gifts. We cannot grow up to be anything we want to be, that is the greatest lie told to children. We can grow up to do great things, but we can't do anything. We all have gifts and talents, God given abilities, that are specific to each individual. Our task in life is to be that person, the one who realizes their gifts and exploits them in a way that enables us to reach our fullest potential in conjunction with the needs of God's kingdom in the world.

What American Idol gives me is a small dose of people who just don't get what life is about. I admire the plucky spirit that goes into an audition hoping to realize a dream. I laugh at those who enter it without a realistic appraisal of their gifts and then expect things to be handed to them. The difference between these people and the ones I see in a counseling session is that these people are oblivious, arrogant, and narcissistic; the people who walk into my counseling office are sometimes the same, but have felt the sting of reality in their lives and they realize that they are no longer entitled to believe that they can do anything they set their minds to.

What a disservice we do to children when we tell them they can do anything, be anything. Wouldn't we be better served by cultivating the individual talents and gifts of our children in a communal atmosphere so that they might see what teamwork and community is about? Wouldn't we be better off teaching kids about how the gifts of one can benefit the whole? I don't know the answer to this, I don't even have kids yet, but I still wonder... and I laugh...



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