2 Timothy 1:6
“For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you.”
It never ceases to amaze me how many people know my name.
Know this isn’t to say that I am popular, it is only that I competed for years in Speech in Debate tournaments, wherein I always wore a name tag. As a direct result of the name tag usage, numerous parents and local judges and alumni who saw me in every room, every round, every debate, and every competitor I saw or knew or met know or recognize my name.
In addition, whenever an award ceremony happened and I placed, people heard my name announced and I walked across a stage. Valid, many people also walk across the stage at tournaments, but we, and our rankings, were then published online in a database searchable by all students and parents.
The ultimate result of this is that people know about me without really ever knowing who I am. In fact, even after I graduated ( I expected no one to know who I was as I no longer wore the name tag) I found that people still would recognize me and ask me if I was “The Taryn Enos”, or even “that one in the finals round”. To which I usually replied no because I only went to finals in one event.
A lot of things put together, it should have swollen my pride, but I found quite the opposite was true. I was humbled by the fact that people actually remembered me for something other than my place on Speech ranks. In fact, I was quickly eclipsed by another girl with my name, but certainly more talent. I respect her more than many, even if simply because a dad from my club is inspired by her story. Alas, it is not my place to put that here, for no one is justified to any story but their own.
For me, I got to college and discovered how much I didn’t understand about the world. Which is pretty much everything. I expected this. As a graduate, I simply listened to what other graduates had experienced before me, that all the students would forget the second I no longer competed. This p art was mostly true, those who did not know me, do not know who I am. Quite right. That should be. However, the ones who I was friends with remember me. If they had not I might have been very depressed indeed.
What surprised me the most, was the fact that many parents and previous judges remembered me. Its incredible what happens when you walk into a hall filled with people who would watch your speeches and give you feedback, but you only saw their faces for possibly twenty seconds before and after speeches. Especially, when there are three judges per room, and you competed in four to five rooms per round. That was my life. It made me recognize how powerful the training, the benefit, and the determination that these parents have for helping these students.
These people put in not just hours, but weeks, weekends, and most of them years of their lives coaching and investing in not only their kids, but every student they judge and watch. In addition, the parents go to tournaments with their kids and support them in competition. The most powerful moment was when I ran into a mother from a club, who knew who I was because of another student in that club (not her child) had debated me the previous year.
The mother said that the entire club knew about me and remembered how gracious I had been in that round. To give some background, that round she was referring to, I had felt like the biggest jerk on the planet afterward. My opponent had been at this as the first tournament of the year and was not prepared to debate someone seasoned. Never the less, I had failed to realize this and debated my hardest. However, later into the round I knew my opponent was having difficulty, so I requested from the judge permission to pray with her before she spoke. My request was accepted and after the round I stayed to talk to the student and later, her parents.
I can say that I have never been more impressed with any competitor than I was during that round. Despite having some stage fright and difficulty speaking, she pulled through and gave a great speech that deserved a standing ovation.
I learn more from the parents than anyone else. God used what I thought to be my weakest round to create an opportunity to speak into another student’s life. My older brother also taught me something important about these events, to never undersell yourself. When I would talk about my ability I always said that I was terrible. However, I would be standing in the middle of other students who did not move into the more competitive rounds, when I had. This was not only insulting to the others, but it also made me appear cocky and self-indulgent.
But there is a fine line between being genuine about your God given talent, and simply being prideful. To my younger self I would give this piece of advice: To avoid that line is simple, acknowledge that you have been given a gift by your Father in Heaven.
Do not forget who you are, but don’t depend your livelihood on your own talents. Because when all is said and done, those talents are not your own. They are gifts. Gifts will not be taken away, but they can be used improperly. Respect your God with your talent, and that means investing in them, learning through them, and being thankful for them.
Because God has given you what you have for a reason. Even if you do not realize it until a round that any other would deem insignificant. That one tiny moment can make all the difference in the world. Pay attention and keep your eyes open for the power of the Lord to move in your life. When you look, you will find. If you earnestly seek after the Lord, you will find Him.
Be blessed today.