Saturday night I peered through a door opened over 30 years ago. On stage Faith Ayers “brought down the house” at a concert at Ovations, an intimate nightclub in Houston. I sat mesmerized by the power of her voice, captivating the room with her heart and soul. Memories of an eighth-grade young girl bouncing in the door of the youth room at our church flooded my mind. Faith and her sister Amy circled the room in seconds, then bolted out the door. Our journey together, as she grew through the awkwardness of a teenager into an amazing young lady, included weekend activities, summer trips and countless small conversations about “stuff”. Her voice was quiet; her heart was loud. Faith occasionally asked questions, mainly listened. Pondered.
Her spirit grew stronger as she took on life. Music became an outlet to express herself, to process the complexity of deep emotion that welled up in her. After 9/11, while chairing a statewide conference for the recruiting industry I asked Faith to open our sessions singing 2 songs: one spiritual, one patriotic. It turned out to be one of the best decisions I made in preparing the event. She again “brought down the house”. Jim Jacobus, our keynote speaker’s first words were: “I have to follow her…thanks, Mike!”
I followed Faith’s journey to discover her calling. She was passionate in her work with youth programs and passionate in leading worship teams. When Tommie and I married, it was an easy decision to ask her to sing at our wedding. With tears in my eyes as songs poured from her heart, again Faith “brought down the house.”
The concert this weekend turned into more than a date night. As Faith’s special rendition of each verse and chorus resonated throughout the room, I realized I was on the receiving end of a great lesson. Faith pulled each of us into her journey. Through her amazing talent, yes. More important was how we were swept away by experiencing her vulnerability, her passion, her compassion. Her desire to connect to each of us heart to heart.
I saw the results of Faith’s courage to reach, to step forward. I was spellbound realizing how special it is anytime we are caught in the afterglow of someone pursuing their dream, rather big or small.
Yet watching Faith reminded me of doors other people in my life chose to open. My dad, Joe’s face popped into my mind, the memory of the story about him holding open the door to Brownie’s Café for Houston Victorian. Houston was the first African American to sit at the lunch counter in a small town in Louisiana in the 1960’s to eat lunch. It struck me “how many doors Faith is opening in her walk, for the countless lives she’s touched, through her work with youth and leading worship in her church”. I see my daughter Nikki through a special lens; seeing doors crack for others as her walk matures as she finishes Vet School, while also finding time to be involved at church with middle school children and their parents. She’s learning how to open doors.
I sat, with tears streaming down my face, taken aback from the greatness I witnessed that night. The tears were not from the emotion caused by the beauty of the notes. It was from the sense of awe in how lives are changed by people holding open doors for others who have the courage to walk through them.
When you walk out of your door tomorrow, will someone say that about you? Is there a door someone is holding for you? But maybe more important is the question “Can we look past ourselves to realize that as we walk through life we will encounter people who simply need a connection, maybe a door opened for them?” A door labeled encouragement to see what they are capable of; to find what they are called to do, to be. Can we dare to focus our sight on their needs, speak a spark of encouragement that might propel them to simply take one more step?
This day someone will cross your path who could use a kind word, a smile. A simple gesture that they are valued. Maybe could use a minute of time from your very hectic schedule. The question is…will you open the door? You never know…if you do, in their own way one day they might just “bring down the house.”