Empty Roads

The Unlikely Cheerleader

I was a cheerleader in highschool. It’s kind of strange to think about. That time in my life was when I hid who I was the most. It’s funny that I was one of the girls trying to pep people up and put smiles on their faces. I was the unlikely suspect and I wouldn’t have ever told a single soul.

Oddly enough I was pretty good at being a cheerleader. That’s not something that I brag about too often but honestly I think that I was just physically strong and good at hiding behind a smile.

Watching The Empty Road

Every summer we went to camp and at camp we tried out for All American Cheerleader. We would have to cheer by ourselves in front of the entire camp. I always faced it with confidence and for the most part always did very well, right up until my senior year.

My mom never once missed an event of mine or my brothers. She made sure that she would be there to watch us do whatever we were in to at the time. That meant she would take off of work and drive three hours just to watch me do one cheer. She made sure that we knew that we meant something and that we were worth it.

There was only one time in the many years that I was a cheerleader that she wasn’t able to come watch. She had to travel out of town for work and would not be there the summer of my senior year to watch me try out for All American.

My dad vowed to take her place and make the drive to watch me. He promised that he would be there. He promised. I filled my heart with faith. I convinced myself that this was going to be the one time that he kept his word. I took my heart out and laid it down, wide open and unprotected.

We stood in a line waiting for our turn to cheer. We were outside and could see the entrance to the school from where we stood.

I never took my eyes off of the road leading in to where I was standing, not for a second, I stared at it the entire time. I don’t think that I was praying to God because I was already so made at Him that I had stopped speaking. I started talking to myself

“Please show, please show, please show.”
“1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8. 8 more girls before I’m up. There’s still time for him to get here.”
“How did he forget about me?”
“Are all the girls staring at me?”
“Are they whispering about me getting stood up by my own dad?”
“I don’t care if he shows up stoned, in a stolen car, with a random woman, just please show up.”
“1, 2, 3, 4. Only 4 left until it’s my turn”
“I can’t do this. I’m going to quit.”
“Come on, come on, let me see him drive up the street. There’s still time.”
“1, 2.”
“If he pulls up now he can at least catch a glimpse of me cheering from the street.”

They called my name. No dad in sight.

It was the first time that I tried out for All American Cheerleader and didn’t win it. I failed. I wasn’t worth it to him…again.

There was no way that I would have ever let a single person there see a tear come out of my eyes. My heart that I had left open and unprotected immediately turned to stone.

Faces In The Crowd

It wasn’t until many years after that when I realized that all the moms and dads that where there knew exactly what was going on with me and they did everything that they could to soften the blow for me without me knowing that they knew. They were my mom’s close friends and knew why she couldn’t be there and they knew that my dad would never show. They had to sit there an watch me squirm with anxiety, they had to watch my heart break and they couldn’t do a thing for me.

I had family there, I was just so caught up in what I wanted that I failed to see all that God had put around me. I also never stopped to look up. My heavenly Father was there to watch me cheer. He had front row seats. He had angels dancing and singing in anticipation of my name being called.

He had to let my heart break. It was the only way for me to take my focus off of the things that were hurting me and take a look around. I was blind to all the people that loved me because my desperation for my dad wouldn’t allow me to see it. All those people thought I was worth more than precious jewels and I wasted years feeling worthless because I couldn’t see them.

God puts the most amazing things in our lives and he can’t wait to see the looks on our faces when we see them. It breaks His heart to watch us focus on the negative things in our lives. He wants us to let them go and let Him be our focus.

Look up. Take your eyes off of the bad and be amazed by all the wonderful things that God has all around you. Let go and let God. Don’t stare at the empty road waiting for something that isn’t coming. Look into the crowd of loving and familiar faces that are there to cheer you on.

Let’s Pray

“Gracious Father thank you for never leaving us. Help us to remove our focus from the hurt and pain and open our eyes to Your mercy and grace. Teach us to see our cheerleaders that are in our crowd and help us to be cheerleaders in our friends crowds. When we can’t take our eyes off of the empty road gently put Your hand on our shoulder and turn us to face our crowd. In Jesus name, amen”

Even though that year at camp held my biggest hurt, it also held one of my greatest memories to date. Two of my very favorite and funny girlfriends and I laid in a twin sized bed and sang our hearts out to Reba McEntire. For as long as I live I will remember that moment as simply being a kid and having two people next to me that truly loved me. I love you for that Sarah and Holly.