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’…

 

20190113_110539521185417105828797.jpg
Bottom line – I can always make music in my heart, and maybe that’s the best place for it…

Sitting in it…

Today in church was awkward.  Not that it hasn’t been before.  I often am hit with this feeling of being an invisible sponge-like being, hoping to pick up on whatever God has for me, whatever I have asked him for. I have friends there, good friends actually, but I’m gone frequently and nobody really knows if/where I belong in the faith community.

I appreciate being able to sing, to listen, to enjoy church in a way that leaves me free of feeling critical, disappointed and upset. I go to a good church. But, wow, when I feel awkward it’s difficult. I question my presence there. I feel alone. Isolated. It’s so easy to sing the last song, pick up my stuff, and be gone.  No one stops me.

God stops me. I can’t get past the part where “the church” is a major player in the story. SHE’S THE BRIDE AT THE WEDDING (excuse the all caps). I must not only try to identify with her, I must try to be her. I have a clear picture of what that “church” means – it’s not a denomination, a particular group, a specific behavior or costume. But it’s real. I find evidence of it across the board, in different cultures, in unlikely places, at odd times, the invisible church is there. identified by mutual love of Jesus (THE GROOM, excuse the all caps).

Anyway, today being one of the awkward days, I sat in it. I know the devil (who wants to be a major player but doesn’t get to) would have me feel estranged in that environment and to wallow in the feeling and draw conclusions from it. Feeling awkward is not fatal. It can happen to me and I survive. I can fight back and seek out someone else who looks awkward and persist in conversation with them until we’ve both felt included in something bigger than ourselves. We’ve made small steps toward community.

I give the “feeling” of discomfort up to God, who reminds me that feelings are fickle. Next week I might feel incredibly part of it all, connected to everyone. Church is complicated. Church is necessary. Church is part of a bigger plan and I don’t always “get it”. But I will sit here, learning, until I do. But today was awkward, just sayin’…

20160313_135111.jpg