January 21, 2010
This week has been one full of discouragement. I have come to find that I set unrealistic standards for myself and then beat myself up over not meeting all of them. I’m going to take a moment to reflect on them and then I’m going to try my best to let it go.
For one, I have been playing piano for about 10 years now. I have never particularly enjoyed playing for people and I’ve never really been satisfied by my playing ability. My piano teacher talked me into putting on a Senior Recital this spring for all my friends and family. I have been working on 3 songs since August and I still can’t play them up to par. I have atleast ten more songs to learn and perfect by May on top of these 3 songs. I have a lot of trouble squeezing in practice time for piano inbetween my other commitments and I have all but given up on the senior recital. I am positive that I am going to end up embarassing myself if I attempt to perform all of the music that my teacher has layed out for me. I just don’t see how it can possibly happen. I became so frustrated at my lesson today that it was all I could do to stay seated and keep hammering out the same piece over and over again.
My band director wants me to play a feature piece in jazz band for the desert concert this year, but I’m the only jazz player I know who can’t do a hint of improv and I highly doubt he will be able to find a piano feature that is already written out.
I am the captain of our competition dance team and I am confident that I have been a good leader for the team. I often feel like I haven’t lived up to the potential of past captains in actual dancing skills. I have always been ok with not being the best dancer on the team because it says a lot just to make the team and we have many very talented girls. As a leader of the team, however, I often feel as if I have let down the team by not being a more skilled dancer.
I recently made the lead role in the Spring Musical (42nd Street) at school. I am super excited because I’ve always hoped I would get a part one day, but gave up hope after a few plays and became content dancing in the company. I am hearing of people whispering griping that I am not even in the drama class (because I have piano and work at that time sometimes) and that I’m an alto. I am already nervous about doing this because I’ve spoken a total of 5 words on stage since my first play and I know that I have a lower range of notes, and hearing other people say it is taking away what little confidence I have.
These are all familiar struggles to me however, as I have been doing these for years. Since I have decided to throw my life into serving God, I have come to know new struggles and disappointments that have never touched me before.
Since my year mission trip didn’t work out, I have picked up a job to pay for several smaller trips in this year. I have worked every day that I didn’t have a practice of some sort scheduled and have worked up to 30 hours a week so that I could go to Jamaica on Spring Break and this summer. Spring Break doesn’t look like it is going to work out after all because of play practice and I was trying to arrange plans to work around it, but it isn’t looking promising. The trip in the summer is being considered to move to a later date while I am in Kenya. Basically, I have put my social life on hold to work all this time and I might not even get to go on the trips.
On a different note, I have tried to prepare myself in the meantime by learning to serve daily in the little ways and trying to put other peoples’ needs before my own. I have never fully realized how exhausting this can be until now. I’ve learned that you often get stepped on and taken advantage of and left in the dust when you live this lifestyle of a servant.
I even stepped way outside of my comfort zone at work and shared my faith with a server who asked me about why I was working. I told her about why I had a heart for missions and why I believed what I did. She all but laughed at me and continued to ask me more questions and ridiculed every answer I gave her. After essentially being backed into a corner, I almost wished I had kept my mouth shut to begin with.
And now I’m done griping and I’m moving on.
I realize that, unlike others, I don’t depend on relationships with other people. I don’t find my self worth in a boyfriend, as so many do. I find my self worth in my successes. I depend on being good at what I do and meeting every standard that I hold in my mind. It becomes overwhelming because I am a performer and performers learn through critique. I am good at handling critique and I welcome it so that I can get better. But when it all builds on to each other and I go from one practice of being judged to another to another every day, on top of my own self-judgement which is often harsher than my coaches’ and teachers’, it becomes overwhelming and very discouraging. I must realize that God has blessed me with many talents and that as long as I am putting forth my best effort and using them for His glory, He is pleased, which is all that matters. If I work to please myself, I will never be satisfied because I set unrealistic standards, but God delights in me when I do what I can for Him.
As for the living the life of the servant, I am not facing nearly the amount of hardships that Jesus faced in his lifetime of servanthood. God promises, “So the last will be first, and the first will be last.” We may feel like we are walked on now, but God is faithful to His promises and we will be rewarded in the end. I have asked God to show me opportunites to serve Him by serving others every day and it may not always be fun and self-satisfying, but I want to do it anyway, because it is what He has called us to do. I want to reflect the life of Jesus in my own, so I must learn to truly be last.
And as for sharing my own story of faith with the girl at work, I will not ever regret telling of God’s love. Jesus told the people of God’s love and He was hung on a cross for it. I can handle a little ridicule. No one ever told us that witnessing would be easy, but if I truly have a heart for the lost, I will not ever count my own losses, no matter how big or small.
“If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. 19 If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. 20 Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours. 21 But all these things they will do to you on account of my name, because they do not know him who sent me.” John 15:18-21
I cannot be tired already. This journey has barely begun. I trust that God has an awesome plan for me that I have yet to catch a glimpse of. I trust that if I do what I can with the blessings He has offered me and return them for His glory, I am not asked for anything more. I know that far greater challenges lie in the future and I trust that I will always be prepared to tackle them with the help of my Savior.
Father, Your glory is infinite. My small struggles and concerns fade in comparison. I am tired and worn out, but You are strong and in complete control. My life is but a blink in eternity and today is but a blink in my life. Give me Your eyes to see the bigger picture and to see past my own wishes to see others’ needs. Take pleasure in my talents and make them less about me and more about You. I ask that my life be about serving You and living out Your love for others to see. Thank You for the hard-learned lessons that challenge me and help me to grow into the woman You have planned for me to one day be.