Last night I returned to something that I never thought I would desire to do again: classical piano. Ever since I started playing the piano back in first grade, I hated the classical pieces. This hatred only increased when I was in college and required to take an arts class. I chose piano because I could somewhat already do that. However I had to learn, memorize and perform classical piano in this class and I dreaded it every day. In the practice rooms, I would review the pieces I enjoyed for most of the time and run through the classical pieces a couple times. Thinking I would never do it again, I stashed the books in a box once the class was done.
I have a nice electric piano that was practically given to me by someone who needed the space in her house. I would play it every once in a while, but only hymns or songs I’d done before. I was literally afraid of doing anything else, because I knew that it did not come easily for me, and I did not want to invest the hours into the practice that I knew it would take. So, in essence, the piano sat in a corner hardly used. For someone who has played for 16 years, this is pretty sad.
Last night I was kind of stressed out. I moved to Nashville, Tennessee last week. I’m still interviewing for a job and have several interviews this week. My two-year Masters program began on Monday, and I still don’t have many friends here in Nashville or much to do. I am highly concerned about my financial situation, so I’m trying not to drive around too much for the next month or two. All this was adding to my stress. As I was sitting on the couch, I glanced over at my piano and for the first time in my life decided that I wanted to start playing classical music again.
It was frustrating for a while, because my hands are not too coordinated with each other yet, and I had to learn each hand separately before I could put them together. It was not until this morning when I was actually able to play the whole song, mistakes included. It will be a long time before I can add the staccato and phrasing markings to make the song complete. However, something kept drawing me to the classical songs, and it wasn’t until this morning that the reason struck me.
I have struggled with intense fear my entire life. This fear has held me back from doing a lot of things or making a lot of friendships that I had the opportunity of making. I made myself an outcast because I was too afraid to talk to people. I was afraid to be myself. If I didn’t like myself, then why would anyone else? In a roundabout way, I was right.
That was part of the discussion that God and I had in making the decision to move to Tennessee. God asked me what was holding me back from following Him. It was fear that I would fail in so many ways. It has been in these last couple months that I have learned how fear is a choice, just the same as courage is a choice. Britt Nicole says in one of her songs, “You don’t have to be afraid.” It may sound dumb, but that was a revolutionary statement for me. I don’t HAVE to be afraid?
This week, God has been teaching me so much about His smile. I have felt more than anything this week that He is pleased with my radical obedience and my willingness to take a big chance on Him. I did not have everything figured out when I put in my resignation at work back in Kansas. There were so many unknowns in the equation. However, EVERY STEP of the way, He has provided the people and the resources that I needed. Sometimes I wonder how long it’s going to take to make it through my thick head that I do not need to worry about anything else either. However, I still wake up in the morning, worried about money and how everything is going to work out. If only I could learn to just bask in His smile.
I’m worried too that I can make it through a Masters program. That takes someone who is smart, right? I’m not sure that I have that much intelligence. When I graduated with my undergrad, I swore up and down that I would never go back to school. Here I am a year later in a whole different state, jumping into the deep end of the pool of life. However, there’s something that tells me this is only the beginning of a fantastically “dangerous” life. All this is pretty overwhelming, and as I sat down at the piano it all started to come clear.
Anyone who has learned classical piano knows that you have to break things apart. Unless you’ve done it for a long time, you can’t sit down and try to play a whole piece from start to finish. You’ll get frustrated and overwhelmed. You have to take it one hand at a time and one line at a time, then put the hands together. As you learn to play a line more smoothly, you add another line. Eventually, you can play the whole song roughly. It takes hours of practice and intense focus to make sure every accidental is hit and every marking seen. It may look like only three pages, but many hours go into learning every little dot on those pages.
That’s kind of like my life right now. I could look at the whole journey and although it’s very exciting to think that one day I’m going to experience all these things, it can also become very overwhelming to think of the work it will take to make it through. It’s going to be rough getting through an accelerated Masters Degree program, and then I have to actually do something with it. It’s going to take a lot of work to jump into the orphan care world, and in the nonprofit sector you learn the importance of proving yourself to your superiors. For a girl who is deeply afraid of doing just about anything, that’s a pretty overwhelming concept. However, it’s a relief to know that God understands my fears and everything that He asks me to do is a step by step growing in faith and releasing of fear. I can’t do this on my own, but I was never meant to. I don’t have to have it all figured out. I just have to follow the next step of obedience that God places before me.
So I sit down at the piano and forget about the song. My whole world is that first line; right hand first, left hand second. Soon, I will move on to the next line, but not quite yet. There’s no point in jumping ahead to the second page. The song does not make sense that way. I have missed the whole first part. As much as I want to be mature and be doing amazing things for God right now, I have to realize that at this time in my life God is laying the foundation that I will someday stand on. I must be attentive to His voice and sensitive to His heart. I have to learn the notes before I can play the whole song. I must learn to be content.
I am beginning to love classical music. It’s exciting to take new steps and see the improvement. It helps me learn how to focus, and that’s a hard thing for someone with ADD. I love how God can speak through the simplest things to bring meaning and direction in these days. I can sense His smile, and there is no other place I would rather be. It is the musicians that have taken the hours to practice that we want to listen to. It is the same with leaders. We follow the leaders who have taken the time and discipline to grow strong personally from the foundation on up. There is something attractive about these people. Besides, as leaders it is so important that we remember what it is like to follow. The pages of life may be long and complicated, but God gives us one day at a time for a reason. Take life one step at a time and one page at a time as God gives you the notes. Soon the discipline and obedience will pay off as you see the song start to come together.