From a young age, music has been woven into my daily life. Like many young kids, I had piano lessons, as my parents hoped that learning an instrument would teach me how to be disciplined and responsible.
What was supposed to have been only a 1-2-year experience, turned into a 13-year journey filled with challenging lessons, stressful competitions, nerve-wracking recitals, embarrassing performances, exciting triumphs, stomachaches, and sweaty palms.
Every autumn, my piano teacher and I would sit down and choose the pieces I would learn for the year, each one being from a different musical period. We would listen to recordings of the songs, pausing to analyze difficult and dramatic sections. Despite my teacher’s strong instruction to slowly learn the mechanics of a new piece, I would jump into playing, not minding that I stumbled along the way. Mastering the beginning of a song was enough to fill me with joy and anticipation as to what it would all sound like once I knew every note.
While it was easy for me to be lost in my own world practicing on my little upright piano, performing in front of an audience was different. I remember being around the age of nine sitting next to my mother during a summer recital, nervously asking her why my hands felt wet, not realizing that it was the first time I experienced sweaty palms. Unfortunately, this would be the norm for every performance; thankfully my mother would graciously wipe them each time. But despite how anxious I would feel about performing, a constant, steady peace would rest on my shoulders as I sat down on the bench and surrendered this gift to my Creator.
As I entered high school, I began to feel discouraged about what had once been something I enjoyed. Music no longer brought me joy as I obsessively focused on my failures when I lost against the same students in the yearly competitions. My perfectionism took over as I stressed over every mistake and every missed opportunity. I didn’t view playing piano as a gift to be cultivated but as a skill to be mastered. And when I went away to college and eventually moved to China, I stopped playing.
To this day, I haven’t played much.
Sadly, music was a reminder of failure, that I didn’t measure up to be a stellar pianist. But slowly over the past few months, God has been writing a new piece in my life, offering an invitation to participate in this gift again.
During a difficult month of sifting through past traumatic experiences, losing a loved one back at home, and beginning a new relationship, God began to use music to soften and move my heart. It wasn’t through one of Mozart’s sonatas that he spoke to me, but in quiet and simple worship songs. There were days I had no words to communicate my thoughts to Him, and instead found myself singing along to praises on my phone. The peace found in those songs wasn’t in the technicality of the notes played or the warm tears rolling down my cheeks, but in the words that spoke truth of who God is and what He has done.
In this season, He has been offering an invitation to me to not only participate in the gifts He has given, but in this new way of knowing Him. He knows of every note that will be played in the scores of our lives, and despite the mistakes and complexities ahead, He is faithful to carry us through it all.
How has God used music to speak to your heart during the various seasons of your life? What ways has He been inviting you to participate in?
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