The Single Seat


During the first months of the year, a friend and I directed a play together: Outlaws, Goldmines, and Whatnot. On performance day, I realized that our directing work was done. Oh, we had makeup to help with, questions to answer, and I gave what one of the boys called my Storming the Beach at Normandy speech but now it was up to the actors.

They had worked. They knew their lines. They understood their characters and their place in the story. What they didn’t know was how the audience would respond.

The lights went down and the actors took the stage. The play began and the audience laughed.

That was new.

So they adapted. They repeated the lines swallowed up by the laughter. Then they thought ahead. All those lines that had tickled them in the early practices, in the days before they were numbed by weeks of repetition? They paused after those, ready for the audience to fill the gap.

Their acting changed, too. The outlaws were badder. Romance, more romantic. Bravado, more nauseating. It was fabulous, just exactly as it should be.

On the stage.

My daughter was on that stage. As she effused her thrill at being spoken to by a young count she’d been secretly admiring, my friend leaned in close to whisper, “Look at her play to the audience!”

Maternal pride mingled with unexpected sadness. That sweet girl wants to be an actor someday. She loves to make people happy and I hope she keeps her acting to the stage and out of the rest of her life.

All the world’s a stage and all the men and women merely players; They all have their exits and their entrances, and one man in his time plays many parts; His act being seven stages. –William Shakespeare, As You Like It

We enter, helpless and naked. We’ll exit, feeble and frail. We aren’t here long before the audience comes into play.

From my seat I could tell that not all of the laughers responded in the same places. Some lines elicited laughter from across the theater. Others got a reaction from one section while the rest of the audience remained quiet. And sometimes the laughter came from a single seat.

The response from the single seat was subtle. The actors were busy acting and I don’t know if they even noticed it. In life, though, it is the one we need to attend to.

It’s hard to resist playing to the reacting audience, especially for those of us who like to make people happy. Just as people in the audience responded to different lines, the people in our lives will be pleased by different things.

So Shakespeare is right. Kind of.

All the world. Absolutely. The audience is there, but we get to choose who we will play to. Will it be made up of the ones who call so loudly, the ones our hearts nearly insist we try to please? Or will it be the One in the single seat, the One voice that really matters, even when everyone else is silent?

Sharing this week at Lyli’s Thought Provoking Thursday, Kelli’s Unforced Rhythms, Jennifer’s #TellHisStory,  and Holley’s Coffee for Your Heart.

15 thoughts on “The Single Seat

  1. Becky Keife (@BeckyKeife) says:

    I’m visiting from Holley’s and so glad to have linked up next to you. I love how God whispers lessons and reminders to our hearts through unexpected or ordinary circumstances. What a sweet reminder to keep our eyes fixed on the only One whose response and approval truly matters.

    • Natalie says:

      One of my favorite parts of life: all of the hidden lessons and reminders sprinkled through the mundane and magical moments in our days. Thanks for being here today.

  2. Kelly Hausknecht Chripczuk says:

    I miss the stage, but I will be preaching this weekend and your words are a good reminder to stay faithful to the words and message I’m given and let God take care of the rest. I think there’s something good also, though, in how we adjust to the reactions of those around us, something of the give and take of life, even with the One who made us. Thanks for linking up with Unforced Rhythms!

  3. Beth Hess says:

    I do love a good audience reaction! Lots of “likes” … pats on the back … public applause. It’s easy to get caught in that momentum and forget the subtleties of the truth. My life is not a performance. It’s a calling. I am grateful for this imagery today. Thank you for sharing.

  4. Lisa notes... says:

    This is very thought-provoking, Natalie. Too often we’re willing to even rewrite the lines just to please the audience, even if it means a disturbance to the plot.

    I want to live for that One also. Thanks for giving me another way of looking at it.

  5. S.L. Payne says:

    So true! It is easy to get caught up doing things for the approval of many and not for God’s approval which is what really matters. I just wrote a post about that a few weeks ago on my site- I think this topic is so important and loved how you explained it! By the way, love your blog template 😉

    • Natalie says:

      Audience of One is something that I have to continually remind myself. My first instinct is to react to the moment, so it’s easy to let the loud voices and even the demanding quieter voices crowd in. Thanks for your encouraging words. I stopped over at your site and you’re template is lovely, as well!

  6. pjkuhn says:

    That single chair. Oh, that we all would determine to please God first, well before the rest of the world stage. I must have been rewarding to have a daughter perform in a play you directed. I would have loved to see it. ~Pamela

    • Natalie says:

      Oh, that we would! Keeping my ear tuned to the voice in the single seat amid all of the loud and demanding voices is one of the great struggles of my life. Yes, it was rewarding. I’m looking forward to the beginning of this year’s drama season. Who knows what the kids will teach me this year.

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