(This was a Twitter thread Wednesday night. I was encouraged to turn it into a blog post.)
Y’all. I have finally accepted I will never win a Tony award. And honestly? I have to grieve that a little bit. Because let me tell you, when I was a kid, that was my biggest dream. To be a star on Broadway in New York City. I always wanted to be a star, to be famous, to be important, to be notable. If it wasn’t a Tony, then at least a Dove Award. I could be a Christian singer. After all, I was Matt Nightingale. I could sing. Like, really truly sing.
I was on a Quest Movie Club Zoom Wednesday night. My co-pastor Tony was leading us through a conversation about the film Soul. I started thinking about all my “almost” famous moments… the times when I thought I had finally arrived or was just about to “make it.”
I remember in college I got big roles in our spring musicals three years in a row… When I was a sophomore, I was THE lead… Curly in Oklahoma! Broadway bound, baby. In my junior year I was chosen to sing a duet with gospel star Babbie Mason for our Homecoming concert. I just knew I was about to be discovered. Then I landed an audition with an up and coming Christian band called Rhythm House. I sang two songs for their music director and thought I knocked it out of the park… But no. I remember going to a Christian music conference in Nashville, creating my “press kit” and recording my demos. I went to the Dove Awards that year, so full of hope and expectations.
And then there was the time I got to record an album… a full-length CD project. It was 2005. I was 34 years old. I had been waiting my entire life for this. It was produced by Mike Roe of the 77s, one of my IDOLS. He sang with me. The 77s were my rhythm section for the project. I was reviewed in Worship Leader Magazine… national press! I won a contest and ended up on a compilation CD. One of my songs ended up in a Korean TV show! I sold 2,000 CDs! I was on my way!
Always just one lucky break away from my dreams…
I got to sing the National Anthem for the 49ers… Not once, but twice! My band opened for Sara Groves, for the Lost Dogs. I opened for Staci Frenes once. I led worship at Mount Hermon several summers in a row…
Oh yeah, and then one year I was on the cover of my denomination’s magazine. I was moderating a huge Facebook group for worship leaders and I got to lead worship at our national conference!
I wrote a song for a short film and Broadway/TV star Loretta Devine recorded it! Surely that would be my big break…
I came out of the closet and did a TEDx talk. Finally. My moment had arrived. I would be famous. Oprah would RT me. I would end up on Ellen.
I was on podcasts… Lots of them. Blue-checked Twitter people were following me. I got to 5,000 followers!
And here I sit by myself on my couch in my studio apartment, acknowledging that fame is, apparently, not in the cards for me.
And the amazing thing is, it’s all good. I’m so grateful for this life, as it is. I have had so many wonderful experiences. I have loved and been loved by so many wonderful people. I am father to four amazing people. I get to teach and preach and sing and write and be myself.
And as I approach 50 years on the planet, I’m feeling nothing but peace and gratitude for all that has been and all that will be. I’m loved by a truly good man, and I don’t have to hide it. I am pastoring a wonderful church and teaching at a wonderful school. And now and then I get to sing. Or act. Or write. I create things and it brings me joy, and it brings joy to others too.
And life is not about striving for fame or accomplishments. It’s about being present and appreciating this glorious miracle of simply BEING. It’s an incredibly valuable gift. I’m incredibly rich.
Maybe someday I’ll get the retweet that will change my life. Or write the book or the song. But until then, I’m going to LIVE my life, every single day, with gratitude for all the good. Because there is so much good. Amen and amen.