Can I tell you my least favorite part about playing an instrument?
Besides the fact, of course, that by "playing an instrument" I mean playing a non-cool xylophone in the non-cool high school marching band at non-cool 6:45 AM in the morning. Those things are most likely the culprits of my not rising to the coveted status of popularity in high school, but none of them had anything to do with the pit in my stomach I would get as I entered the band room doors.
That's what the instructors would shout to us during rehearsal, "play louder". They would say.
Here's the problem. I am not a great sheet music reader. I am not even a good sheet music reader. I am, however, pretty awesome at watching somebody else play my part and mimic exactly what they did. So every time we got new music I would ask for a "demonstration" and then carry on with practice. Which worked PERFECTLY, until those two words were shouted.
Am I hitting the right notes? Am I playing in rhythm with the song? Am I doing it exactly how I saw the person play it before me? I don't want to play any louder because then maybe they would catch on to the fact that I have NO IDEA WHAT THE CRAP I AM DOING.
When we realize that there is a very likely chance that we might be making a few mistakes or have no idea what we are actually talking about the craziest thing happens. We get quieter. In conversation with someone talking about sports I can hold my own for all of two minutes but then when the knowledge reaches a depth of, oh, a five year old child's comprehension of the game, I'm out. I go quiet.
Or when you raise your hand in class to answer a question and instead of an instant approval for your answer, the teacher just asks more questions. And that once booming voice that was so confident at first reaches the point of mumbling because you have now just second guessed practically your whole life. We go quiet.
Or when you are four years old and getting in to all kinds of shenanigans, including but not limited to, drawing with your mother's lipstick on the creme floor, pouring all of the spices into a bowl, emptying entire cupboards of their contents, emptying an entire tube of toothpaste, drawing on every wall in your room, dumping an entire jar of fish food into the fish bowl, eating an entire bag of cough drops... EATING FLIPPING DEODORANT..
or anything else that might possibly be deemed inappropriate or a giant mistake, you go quiet.
Because when we are wrong, we don't want to draw attention to it.
I always hated when our instructors would yell out "play louder" because I knew they would hear my terrible interpretation of what somebody else had played and want to tell me how "off" I was. I would cringe when they would stand right in front of my super hipster marimba and tell me to play it again, examining my every move. I hated making a mistake, but even more I hated making a mistake so loudly that the whole percussion section would here.
That is, until the instructor would hear where I was going wrong and take a moment to help me fix it. It was in that moment I understood why I needed to play so loudly.
Because you can't fix what you are hiding.
My instructors needed to hear where I was going wrong so they could help me make it right. Not to laugh at me. Not to hold it over my head. But to make me better. To make us better.
"Make mistakes loud", they would say, "so we can fix them".
Girls, this is something we need to start practicing in life; Nothing good comes from keeping things hidden.
When we push our wrong words, actions, or thoughts to some dark place somewhere we think that no one will find them, we are really just prolonging and exasperating the correction needed for us to make them right.
The bible says that there is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known. What you have said in the dark will be heard in the daylight, and what you have whispered in the ear in the inner rooms will be proclaimed from the roofs. Luke 12:2-3
There is nothing secret, girls. Everything we say or do will be found out. Maybe not today, or tomorrow, or this year, but it all comes out eventually. Sooner or later everything is brought into the light and the world will truly see if we are just mimicking what we've seen or if we are truly Christians... I mean musicians.
And if you have been keeping something under wraps, or have been caught playing a few wrong notes... don't beat yourself up and learn from it! This is still a #NewYearNewYou isn't it?
There are three "simple" things you can do to make things right...
1. Fess Up
Own your mistake. No it doesn't come with great applause or warm fuzzy feelings, but you are the one who made the choice to do wrong in the first place so take ownership of that choice. The bible says that if we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9
The problem with being forgiven from our wrongdoing lies in that first word... "if". "If we confess". It isn't "if God feels up to it" or "if He thinks we are worthy of forgiveness". No, the ball is in our court. If WE confess. And not just to God, but also to those who we have wronged and to those who will keep us accountable to do right. If we want to be better we have to take responsibility and say, "it was me, I am the one playing the wrong chords. Can you help me?" Which brings us to Step Two...
2. Make it Right
This is a hard truth, friends. Making things right is a process that you must commit yourself to. If you are repentant, then you are not just asking for cheap grace and forgiveness but also committing to the act of turning from your sin. Which I hate to say is not a one time thing.
When I would be singled out because of playing in the wrong rhythm or with the wrong chords, our instructors wouldn't just stop when I got it right ONCE. NO, I would have to practice it right OVER AND OVER, sometimes for hours on end, because it is so easy to fall back into that old way of playing it. We have to commit to the process of making it right.
God sent His Son to die for the punishment of our sins, but not for the consequences of them.
John 3:19-21 This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God.
3. Move on
And then there is this.
On my eighteenth birthday I got my driver's license and with the money I had saved bought an incredibly old STICK SHIFT Mazda Protege. I was terrible at stick shift but it was in my budget so I told myself that I would learn. And I did... just through a lot of failures.
I once stalled at a light, causing the whole line of cars (except for me as I got it started again at the last moment) to miss the green. I stalled another time backing up. Yes, backing up, because you know that is hard. But the worst #EpicCarFail I have ever done was when I was trying to beat some friends back to the church and flew through a yellow light as I turned left only to struggle to get it in the right gear as I fish tailed through the intersection almost hitting two cars and a pole in the process. In front of everyone. And let me tell you, they still won't let me forget it over ten years later.
This is the hardest part with moving on. We have this equally wonderful and terrible thing called memory and if it isn't us reliving our own failures, others are sure to take up the task and remind us of all the times we have failed - as often as possible. It is grueling and mortifying and not what God had in mind at all. When we confess and turn from our sins, then God REMOVES them from our lives. He justifies us. "Just-As-If-I'd" never sinned.
Just read what David wrote about God (aka one of the most well known "sinners" with his adulterers and murderers who God called "a man after His own heart")...
Praise the Lord, my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name. Praise the Lord, my soul, and forget not all his benefits— who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion, who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s. The Lord works righteousness and justice for all the oppressed. He made known his ways to Moses, his deeds to the people of Israel:The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love. He will not always accuse, nor will he harbor his anger forever; he does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us. Psalm 103:1-12
I don't know if I am worthy of all those things, but trying to live my life quietly so no one would see my failures hasn't really worked out so far. So instead, I urge us all to be done with our dark ditches and secret selves and take these three steps to heart. Knowing that living life in the light and out loud, no matter how uncomfortable it will make me as I am forced to look at my own shortcomings, will be for my benefit. It will make me better. It will make all of us better.
Will you join me in this?
Hebrews 4:12-16 For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account. Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.