Last week summer began for me. In other words, So You Think You Can Dance was back. I was so excited that I even let Annalyn watch a few minutes of the show with me, one hand hovering over the remote in case Lil C used adjectives other than “buck” – or Mary Murphy let her crazy train scream loose early on.
Luckily, the 30 minutes that came before bathtime and bedtime came before any racy dancers, rated-R outfits or judges shouting repeatedly, “Shut up. Shut up!” I was a little disappointed, though, that my kiddo missed the adorable little ballerina showing off her moves after her mom danced.
Bree Hafen won the judges’ hearts and a ticket to Vegas with an outstanding performance and two cuter-than-puppies little kids. But what really got me about this mom from Texas wasn’t her dancing, though it really was wonderful. And it wasn’t even her tiny dancing daughter, complete with pointed toes and pink tutu. What moved me about Bree’s audition was her answer to Nigel’s question, “How old are you?”
She very carefully and pointedly answered, “Twenty-nine.” And I realized: This audition was her last chance.
Contestants can’t be over 30, so depending on when Bree’s birthday falls, she might just be too old to try out for So You Think You Can Dance next year. So that moment on stage, that 60-second audition – it really was her last chance.
Or was it?
Sure, it might have been her last opportunity to try out for my favorite dance competition. But it’s not as if being sent home would have meant that Bree had to stop dancing. Heck, it’s not as if she couldn’t find another half a dozen reality shows to showcase her skills.
But you can hear it in her voice. She saw that audition as her last chance. Maybe it took too much out of her, too much time away from her kids, too many early morning rehearsals or sore muscles that can’t take the pounding of an energetic toddler. Really, though, I don’t know what brought Bree to that audition or how she truly felt about the whole thing. I just know that it sounded a lot like she saw it as her last chance.
Have you ever felt like that?
Have you ever opened your mailbox or inbox, found an invitation or announcement, and realized that more time has passed or another deadline has come and gone? Have you ever submitted an article, tried out for a part, applied for a job or tried one more discipline technique while just barely hanging onto the hope that this time will work out?
I’ve felt that way. A lot. Specifically, last week. I started a new job [a story that I can't wait to tell you soon], and it just might be the one I’ve been looking for. I’m tentatively optimistic that I may have finally found where I’m supposed to be, and that thought is as terrifying as it is exciting.
After all, I’ve started lots of new jobs. And I’ve thought each one was the one. And then? Then I was wrong. And then I was crushed. Every. Single. Time. At some point, I started feeling like maybe I’d used up all my chances. So this new job, unexpected and full of potential, feels a little bit like my last chance. I mean, really, how many times does one girl get to start her dream job?
All these mental gymnastics might explain why I found tears on my face as I watched Bree Hafen tell the judges that she was twenty-nine.
I heard a clever quote somewhere, basically saying that as long as you’re still alive, God’s not finished with you. I certainly hope that’s true. Because when we put the pressure of “last chance” on ourselves, we’re destined for frustration and disappointment. Nothing – no job, no relationship, no project, no performance – is ever going to be perfect. So naming it our last chance for success, happiness, forgiveness, vindication, fulfillment? It’s never going to live up to that expectation.
Setting goals and making bucket lists are good things. But pinning all of our hopes on accomplishing our life’s work by a certain date, be it self-imposed or based on a reality TV show’s rules, can lead to a whole lot of last chances. And I’m just not sure God intends for us to live with a “last chance” mentality.
He is the God of grace and new life and fresh mercies every morning.
Are you starting something new today? Or trying something for the umpteenth time? Be brave. Have faith. And let out that breath you were holding. This probably isn’t your last chance. You’re still breathing, aren’t you?
Have you ever felt like this was your last chance?