Growth takes time.
I know this but still I just want to reach the end without delay – I want to reap the benefits of the growth without the effort required to get there.
Have I ever told you the story of my senior year in high school piano recital? My teacher, tired of me just faking my way through easier pieces assigned me a level one piece (I think it was one, whatever the highest level of competition was at that time). “It’s time I gave you a challenge. And it’s time for you to actually practice,” she said handing me the sheet music. I agreed and fully intended to do just that. But the first time I sat down to play the piece, I couldn’t get past the first measure without messing up. I practiced sporadically but got so frustrated with how long it was taking that I stopped trying.
The night of my last recital of high school (I played for 18 years total), I walked into the church and fell flat on my face in the foyer. In retrospect, that was a pretty good sign of how this was gonna go. When it was my turn to play, I got up and laid my sheet music down on the piano. I took a breath, played the first measure, messed up and stopped. I played the first measure four times and then quit and gathered my pages and sat back down.
Today over at JesuitPrayer, I write about the need to take the long view and put the work in. I realize now it’s not just about not embarrassing yourself at a piano in front of a small crowd – it’s about a much bigger picture. It’s about finishing something. It’s about putting your best effort in to see what’s possible. It’s about believing that the work counts, the journey matters.
My prayer this morning is for all of us to be given the grace of persistence. May God help us stay motivated to try even when the obstacles seem insurmountable. May we believe that we can make beautiful music. We just have to have a little faith and determination.
(Hop on over to JesuitPrayer.org for my reflection on today’s Gospel)
(By the way, this photo is not from that recital. It was from the year before when I did know my music!)