Take Your Turn — October 15, 2011


Third runner-up.

Recently in a moment of weakness–or boredom–I tuned in a beauty pageant.  I viewed a few moments of the broadcast. It was near the end, when they were announcing the winner. This one girl received the honor (or perhaps I should say distinction) of being the third runner up–the third most attractive person in the room.  I watched her with great curiosity as she stepped forward to receive her sash.  No crown. Just a piece of cheap cloth draped around her, with “Third Runner-Up” inscribed. 

It got me musing over the journey this dear person had taken to reach this point. Consider–she obviously was the most attractive person in her whole family. All the other women anywhere near her who were related to her in any way, shape or form were in constant lust over her beauty–so much so that they encouraged her to compete in her local community’s festival of beauty-something-or-other.  Gloriously, she was considered by the judges in THAT contest to be the most beautiful girl amongst many families–in the entire town! And this took her to a county competition and to a state-wide event. In all cases she was deemed to be the “fairest of all.” Tears were shed over both her success and her extreme qualities of attractiveness. Then … she came here, to this national platform, and discovered there were two people in the room more gorgeous than herself.

It reminds me of the joke about running a race in the Olympics and coming in last. You had to train just as much as the guy who came in first, ate a ridiculously restricted diet, went to bed early, got up early and traveled a great distance–to end up eating the dust of the entire mob–the joke being that you could have skipped all the pain and still have come in last.

Everybody takes their turn.

I had a delightful conversation last night in Reidsville, North Carolina, with a man who told me about a banquet he attends every Christmas season which is held in honor of a local home for individuals who have befallen tragedy, difficulty, or for whatever reason, are unwanted. He told me there was a fellow there who had contorted features–barely able to speak an audible word–had lost many fingers off his hands and could scarcely move without jerking and convulsing. My friend telling the story introduced an interesting word in describing the gentleman–he said he was “grotesque.”  Now, he didn’t mean it to be critical, but rather as a way to accentuate the true point of the story.  For he related that about halfway through the event, someone handed this seemingly unfortunate fellow a microphone and from his position of destitution, he sang in a beautiful baritone voice, O Holy Night”–to the amazement and weeping of all who attended.

He had been transformed from grotesque to beautiful.

All of us do that. I realize every day of my life that to some people I meet–because their standards are set at a certain level–my personage may be a bit grotesque. Knowing this and refusing to be in denial, I have worked on other parts of my package to deliver  me the opportunity to be beautiful. Because everybody is going to take a turn. You may be beautiful in one auditorium and in the next one end up third runner-up, and even by some people’s standards who are very picky, a bit grotesque. If you aren’t prepared for the fickleness of humanity, you will soon resent those around you who make split-second judgments without thinking about the consequences.

It’s not so much that beauty is skin deep or that beauty is merely “in the eye of the beholder”–it’s more that we are what we are and sometimes it’s insufficient physically, so if we don’t keep our emotions pure, our spirits youthful and our minds clear, we won’t have any true beauty to fall back on. Just like that girl, you may think you’ve achieved a certain level of irresistibility that cannot go unrecognized by the masses. 

Foolish soul. Because these are four certainties in life:

  • There is always someone more talented.
  • There is always someone more beautiful.
  • You will take your turn being the underdog.
  • So just make sure you bring some bark to the kennel.


Jonathan sings “Let”

Jonathan Sings “Spent This Time”

Jonathan and his partner, Janet Clazzy, play “The Call”

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