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“The Voice” and Hope

October 16, 2019


The Voice has been on NBC for seventeen seasons after beginning in Holland, and it maintains its rank as one of the most inspirational reality shows on television. I settled in for my normal round of this show, sad that Adam Levine is gone, and I realized that I cannot make it through an episode without weeping.

Not too long ago, I discovered that most of the time our weeping comes from an elevation or a degradation of humanity. Devastation in the Bahamas can lead to affectivity, and so can watching a family reunite with long lost relatives—a degradation and an elevation of humanity. Given that presupposition, I wondered at why something as trivial as The Voice would draw me into my heart and express itself with tears.

It’s because of hope.

Some of the contestants share their stories: how they started singing, what their home lives are like, their greatest wins, and their greatest losses. Some of the season premiere stories range from not being given a chance because of weight, a young girl who was raised by her grandparents because her parents were too young to care for her, a former correctional officer that decided to give singing a try.

And here they are. Contestants step up on the stage and wait for chairs to turn. And man, when the chair turns, the look on their faces is incredible and the expression says one thing: “Someone picked me.” Often these contestants have largely not been chosen. Sometimes they’ve been someone’s second choice but often the story is framed in such a way that you can see that maybe no one has chosen them . . . ever.

I think that’s all that we want. We want someone to pick us, and the truth is that we’ve all had moments when we weren’t chosen. We tend to turn that in on ourselves—not being chosen must be a reflection of who we are (or are not), never the result of the chooser’s vice(s). We see that in friendships, romantic relationships, applying for college, discerning vocations, trying to get a job. When we are rejected, there must be something wrong with us. Don’t get me wrong: there’s always something we can improve. The greatest saints always knew there was “glory to glory,” but they also knew that being rejected, suffering, and the redemption that comes with that rejection is part of the glory.

Time and time again, the celebrity judges on The Voice speak to the perseverance that’s required in the entertainment industry. “I was told no many times before anyone ever said yes.”

Every now and then a contestant walks away with no chair turns, and more often than not, they realize that the experience alone is worth the rejection. They’ve learned from it. They will grow from it, and many times they come back for a second chance.

As I was writing this, I sent out a tweet: “It’s like this. Imagine you at your grade school talent show, God is the Father in the back applauding wildly and so excited that you’re his kid. Maybe you nailed it. Maybe you blew it. He’s making a spectacle of his love for you all the same. And a good kid finds rest in that.”

And sure, a good parent will also chastise, but it’s not without the praise for trying.

I realized that my heart is so moved with each chair turn in The Voice because God chooses you. He does it over and over again. We try. We succeed. We fail. We sin. We preach. We fall short. We reach. We try. And there he is, over and over again, choosing you.

There are brief moments when I realize the gravity of being loved by the God of the Universe and longer moments of wondering why he would love little ol’ me. There’s not much to give here, I think. I probably missed a line or fell out of the pocket on the refrain, but I am reeled back in by this great line from Blessed Pier Giorgio when someone asked him why he was singing in the town square: “But the important thing is to sing.”

The important thing is to try. Pray, hope, and don’t worry, as St. Padre Pio said. If you’re doing this to be chosen, my friend, I’ve got news for you: you’re chosen. God chooses you, over and over and over and over again. All you have to do now is live this life like someone chosen. Do whatever you are doing . . . and do it well, all for the glory of God.

His chair wouldn’t turn. It’s already been turned towards you. Don’t get so caught up in singing the song that you fail to see his gaze. You’ve been chosen. What will you do with that?