My Uncomfortable Life (and how God uses it)

I love to play the piano.

I am not a virtuoso, but I have played enough over the years, that I can relax and enjoy expressing myself through music.  I’ve played hymns in churches most of my life, and always offer to do so when I move to someplace new.

And so it happened that I offered to play for the church that I am attending here, “up north”. and am collecting quite a collection of piano stories with a common theme. Embarrassment.  It’s got me thinking.  But, as always, what I let myself think is important. Humility and embarrassment are related, but not quite the same and that is where the importance starts.

This morning I arrived early enough for church that I could make sure the electronic instrument, a clavinova, was plugged in, turned on and sounded appropriate for the small early service. I only had to play for the communion portion of the service – one hymn.  All was set.  The service went well, the message was moving and the invitation was given for communion. To my surprise, when I started to play there was a pop drum beat and a very weird bass thing going on with my reverent, calm hymn.

I hunted for any button on the control board that had STOP written on it, and tried several times to make the hymn sound like a hymn, but no. What finally came out of the machine was barely recognizable and was probably more distracting than having no music at all.  Stuff like this is a musician’s nightmare.

This particular service is early, 8 am, and has small attendance, so the music crew does not do a lot of practice for it.  Other times when I’ve participated, I have played the wrong song at the right time, played the right song at the wrong time, and played when I was not supposed to play at all.  I suppose the regular attendees are getting kind of used to me and my uncomfortable adventures.

I am filled with mixed emotions. Why do these things keep happening? It always takes a bit of courage to put myself in a place of service to others where what I do is noticeable if I do it poorly. I am aware that music sets the mood and can influence people. I desperately (yes, desperately!) want to not distract people from their worship, or make them uncomfortable because they are worried about me.

On the other hand, I realize that music is not what it’s all about.  Worship is not about me at all and how I respond when things go poorly is what God is probably watching. What does my embarrassment lead to? What discouraging messages am I giving myself about my performance, my usefulness? Will I be intimidated and unwilling to serve again? Those would not be good choices. However, I have to consider that God might be telling me that my time playing for church is finished.  Maybe I am to move on to something else, and it would be okay.  It has to be okay. Kind of makes me look at my pride issues and wonder what God wants to teach me next.  That is always a good thing.

This morning, the pastor asked me what I was going to write about next.  I had no idea then, but God inspires in strange ways and look what happens. Just sayin’…

 

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Bottom line – I can always make music in my heart, and maybe that’s the best place for it…

A to Z Challenge: W for Watch

Looking through a drawer I came across five watches that I’ve worn at various times. All of them had stopped running and probably needed nothing more than a new battery. One of them had a cracked crystal.  I took them to a jewelry store to get them going again and when I picked them up the clerk said “no charge”.  They were all running and set to correct time so I asked why I wasn’t being charged for new batteries. He mentioned the cracked crystal and apologized.  I told him he hadn’t done it – it was that way when I brought it in.  He said he knew that, but was sorry he hadn’t been able to replace it, so he was giving me the batteries for free.  It was a small thing, but an unusual business occurrence these days. I don’t think I’ll forget it.

When was the last time you experienced someone taking responsibility for something for which they were not responsible?  And doesn’t that speak of a confidence and grace that is generous and non-threatening? I was grateful in this situation and the good will created will likely take me back to that store to spend money at some point.  This is in sharp contrast to times when responsibility is avoided or denied, when the most important thing seems to be pinning the blame somewhere.

I was thankful for this little object lesson that God dropped in my path and I’ll try not to forget to put it into practice. I think it’s about being humble,  not in a self deprecating way but with confidence. I am valued enough that I can willingly accept responsibility for my own mistakes and maybe for a few of someone elses’ as well.  It doesn’t really matter who is to blame.  And I’ve found that after years of using my phone for getting the time, I kind of like wearing a watch again.  Just sayin’…

 

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