I’m a musician. A pianist, to be more specific. It’s what I love and it’s what I study in school – my degree is my hobby. Almost every day, I get to sit at one of those beautiful instruments and practice for four or more hours. If I didn’t have other classes to worry about doing homework in, I’d probably practice closer to eight hours on a daily basis. When I touch those keys…. something just clicks. I get lost in the music and there’s been more than one time I’ve caught myself laughing out loud with just the joy of playing and the satisfaction of conquering another line of complicated and intricate notes. Or it could just be that I find something funny in what the composer wrote. 😉 I might have to work a little harder at enjoying performing in front of people instead of just practicing by myself, but there’s actually nothing I enjoy more than sharing my joy and love of music (see my previous post about why I play here).
Towards the end of last semester, I had one of the biggest struggles I’ve ever experienced. Long story short: I decided to change my major to piano performance. Most people probably are thinking “Wait… I thought that’s what you were studying already?” or “Well duh… How come you didn’t do that in the first place?” Well, because I didn’t realize it’s what I wanted to do until now. I never saw my potential until a couple months ago. It might be shocking for you to know that I honestly didn’t think I was good enough or outgoing enough because I get so nervous when I play in front of people. It really was quite a struggle to make this decision and I only made it because 1) the Lord definitely was guiding me to this decision and 2) I have one of the best professors out there – one who cares about me personally, who cares enough to help me see my abilities and potential outside of my own point of view. As I sought advice from many different people but especially the Lord and my piano professor, I got the answer I wanted, but one I never would have expected – “Switch to piano performance. You’re good enough. You’re strong enough. You will love it.”
So I’ve jumped into this decision with both feet, excited and joyful. Sometimes it’s a little scary because it means learning and memorizing 50 minutes of music in 4-5 months for a recital that will also be my audition into the program. I sometimes wonder if I can do it successfully in so little time. But then other days, I get so happy that I practically skip everywhere I go and sing at the top of my voice because I can’t contain my excitement!
And then, only about a month or so after making the decision to switch came something that could have been (and could still be) devastating to my newfound dream…
There’s the possibility of having carpal tunnel. My muscles, tendons and bones started aching to the point where I was so afraid I would make it worse if I played the piano anymore. It got bad enough that closing car doors, pulling open the doors to buildings or lifting a heavy book was painful. I prayed earnestly, pleading that they would heal, asking for another confirmation that piano performance was right for me. I didn’t even want to think about what I would do if I was told I couldn’t play the piano again in the way that I would need to for that major. Despite my worries and fears, I decided to trust in my answer from the beginning: Playing the piano is what I love. And sharing that talent is what I need to do because it will bless me, my family, my friends and so many others in ways I can’t imagine right now.
Oh and there’s one other thing that could make me stumble in another way: I have pretty bad anxiety when it comes to performing in front of people. Kind of a problem when I’ve decided to make my whole degree about performing, eh?
There are some times that I doubt the answer I got – I wonder if I have enough time to learn everything. I wonder if I have the strength to go on. I wonder if I can get past my anxiety and keep my hands from shaking, my heart from feeling like it’s going to explode and my brain from shutting down to where I pass out. I sometimes feel so overwhelmed by all of these things that I start to doubt that I’m even good enough to do what I want to do.
You might as well just call me cripple – I have problems physically (my wrists), mentally (my anxiety) and emotionally and spiritually (doubts).
And then I remember: I can do all things through Christ, which strengtheneth me (Phil. 4:13).
How many of us are completely and perfectly whole either physically, mentally, emotionally or spiritually? If you’re out there, I want to meet you and find out what you’re doing to achieve that perfection. Otherwise, I want you to know this: we are all cripples in some way or another. Even though your body might be whole and healthy, you might suffer from depression. Even though your mind might be strong and stable, your legs might not work and you have to be in a wheelchair. And even if your mind and body are complete, your spirit might be doubting, floundering and wondering how you could ever move forward in life.
There are so many instances in the New Testament when Jesus Christ healed people. He gave people a new life – to the blind, He gave back their sight and a new life of seeing everything around them where previously it had been dark (John 9:6-7). To the lame, He gave them their ability to walk again, to explore the streets they’d lived near their entire lives and never seen (Matthew 21:14). To the deaf, He gave their hearing, allowing them to experience the laughter of children, the sound of water and their own voice for the first time (Mark 7:32-35). Even to the dead, He gave them their lives again (Matthew 9:18, 24-25). And to the faithful doubters, He gave comfort, strength and light (Mark 9:23-24). (Matthew 11:5)
So why am I telling you all this? Do I have a miraculous story where I received a Priesthood blessing and immediately my wrists and my anxiety were healed? No. Not even close. I’m telling you all this to share with you my testimony of the way God works.
Heavenly Father is a loving Father who allows us to experience things that cripple us in many different ways to teach us. Sometimes that includes not being healed right away or maybe not even ever. I don’t know what your personal lesson is, but mine? As far is this piano part of my life goes: Perseverance, trust, hope and faith. My wrists started giving me problems soon after I’d made the inspired decision to change my major to piano performance. I KNOW that answer came from the Lord, and so I’m choosing to trust in Him that I can continue. I do everything I can to rest my hands and wrists so I don’t overuse them because I know God doesn’t want to fix all my problems for me – He wants me to learn to solve problems at least partly on my own. He wants me to use my agency, to use the knowledge I’ve been given. If I don’t know what to do, He wants me to turn to Him and ask. He just doesn’t want to hear me ask “Can you get me out of this? Can you fix this problem for me?” Because I know who God is, I also choose to have faith and hope in His promise that I will be able to use my musical talents to bless the lives of others and I’m trusting that playing the piano is included in that promise. Even if it turns out I can’t play, then so be it. I’ll learn whatever lesson I’m supposed to learn from it, apply it, and move on to whatever else there is for me to do.
I may be a cripple in a few different ways, but I am still a Daughter of God. I still have talent, I still have worth and I can still change the world. Whether I end up in the worst case scenario and am never able to play the piano again or not, I don’t know. But I do know that whatever happens, I have a loving Heavenly Father to guide me, strengthen me and heal me if it be according to His will. No matter what happens, no matter how crippled I become physically, mentally, emotionally or spiritually, I choose to follow the Lord.