“And this year’s Homecoming Queen is…Kristin Rideout!”  Really?  Did the announcer just say my name?  Dad stands quietly beside me on the football field.  I look up at him in disbelief.  “Hey!  Hey!”  he chuckles proudly, motioning for me to step forward.  To accept this honor of being chosen.  In that moment, time stands still.  The roar of the crowd.  The arms reaching out to hug me.  The cameras flashing to capture my awkward surprise.  Is this really happening?  

Just minutes later, I sit on the cold hard bleachers huddled under a warm blanket with a few close friends.  The homecoming football game resumes and I stare mindlessly at the players running around the field, processing the events that just unfolded.  I am not a member of the official “popular” crowd and definitely not the prettiest girl on the homecoming court.  Just how did I get chosen?   Is this how Cinderella felt running down the street after the clock struck twelve?  Afraid of being discovered in her rags?  This is the Cinderella to whom I can relate. The quiet-one who stays in the background, busy humming and completing her chores, secretly dreaming big dreams, but never saying them out loud for fear of not being good enough.

Over twenty years later, I still occasionally reflect on that young girl sitting in the bleachers, head reeling after being crowned homecoming queen.  I distinctly remember the juxtaposition of emotions felt around the simple act of hearing my name called.  The anticipation of waiting, the elation of being chosen and the  inadequacy of feeling unworthy.  Don’t we all long to be chosen in one form or another?  To be chosen by our spouses?  To be “the one” for the job? To be recognized and admired for our unique gifts?  And, when we are chosen, why do we still yearn for something more?

My grown-up self has come to understand that those defining moments in which time stands still, just for us, are both exquisite and elusive.  Instead of clutching approval from others with tight fists or questioning my worthiness, I open my hands to receive the blessing and continue on the journey ahead. For it is the  journey, the surrender and God-shaping of my soul that provides the real sustenance for joyful living.  And on this journey, I need only to seek the approval of my Heavenly Father.  The One who chooses me over and over again.

But you are a chosen people…a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.   1 Peter 2:9