practice makes perfect



when i was growing up, my sisters and i were forced allowed to take piano lessons.  our mother was {still is} a remarkable musician. she has a true gift of musical understanding as well as execution and performance. she saw in us a fraction of the potential to become musically-inclined {although can you actually BECOME musically inclined? i don't know... i think you either are or you're not. anyway...i digress}, and she steered us in that direction. granted, we most definitely were musically-inclined, but to varying degrees. i gravitated more toward my voice being my instrument, rather than the piano {or flute or clarinet, both of which i played for a time...a very short time} as it just came easier for me. the piano was always a bit of a struggle. yes, i admit, largely due to distractions that came in the form of cheerleading and boys. but the struggle, i always felt, went deeper than that. i still believe that i do not possess the same gift that my mom does. but it's also become clear to me that a huge part of my failure as a pianist was due to lack of practice.

yep. turns out my mom was right.  oh the drop-dead, drag-out fights we had over practicing!!!
i always wanted to do something else...like sing in my room.  it was difficult for me to concentrate at the piano because it was, well, hard. and like lots of kids, when the going got tough...i just wanted to get going! but of course... now i wish i would've practiced.

my daughter began playing the guitar when we moved to Montana 5 1/2 years ago. she had taken piano lessons up until that point and very much wanted to quit.  i was so torn between relating to her based on my feelings as a kid her age {knowing exactly how she felt} and my feelings as a parent {and someone filled with regret over having not put in the practice time as a kid}.  so i compromised. i made a deal.  i allowed her to stop taking piano if she'd choose a different instrument to take it's place. she chose guitar and excelled beyond our expectations.  it's been truly remarkable watching this gift unfold in her hands.

i have watched her learn and grow and it has dramatically inspired me.  so much so... that i started guitar lessons. yes...at 42 i'm a new student.  i hate it. and i love it.  let me tell you...it is extremely difficult for me to add yet another item to my to do list.  and i admit that for the first 3 weeks, i barely practiced. mostly because of my 'lack-of-time' excuse. but also because...it's hard. it hurts! and it does not come easily for me. however, i had a revelation this last week. i sat down with my guitar {which is pictured above. it's very pretty and sparkly which makes me want to play it more... it's an 80's re-issue of a 50's Gretsch Silver Jet} and my lesson book and actually, truly, practiced. and i found that some stuff that hadn't made sense previously, came alive and a light clicked on in my head. i highly doubt that i'll be hauling my fancy guitar along with me on planes anytime soon... but i actually believe that it's not outside the realm of possibility anymore. the fact that i just might play along with my band someday both terrifies and excites me. can i do it? this late in the game? why not?

as i began really experiencing this new found revelation...that practicing actually works... i saw a very clear spiritual analogy.  the dictionary declares practice to mean: 'repeated performance or systematic exercise for the purpose of acquiring skill or proficiency'. in other words, whatever we practice...we become good at. so, if i am consistently practicing dis-obedience, it stands to reason that i become very good at disobeying.  if i consistently practice sinning, i become quite good at that.  if i allow bitterness, jealousy, irritation, impatience and anger to go unchecked and become a regular part of my attitude...it will easily become my character and i'll get real good at judging, hating, gossiping and yelling. the flip side is also true: whatever i do not put time into, or practice, i will not grow in or get better at. for example, if i do not nurture a relationship, chances are it will suffer or cease to exist.  if i do not put in the time to study the Word, pray, listen, read, learn... my mind will become stagnant and dormant. i run the risk of remaining simple-minded and immature.

the Bible says, in 1 John 3:9 that 'those who've been born into Gods family DO NOT make a PRACTICE of sinning'.  what on Earth are we doing, then?  why would we, who've been redeemed, rescued and restored, revert back to old behavior? may it not be said of us!!! can we, together, commit to PRACTICE holiness, goodness, obedience and love? let us, like 1 Timothy 6:11 says..."pursue righteousness and a godly life. along with faith, love, perseverance and gentleness" {my verse for this month}.

there is no such thing as true perfection this side of Heaven, but i know that we can become really good at whatever we put our minds...and time... into. let's say, with the Psalmist, "give me understanding and i will obey your instructions; i will put them into practice with all my heart." {Psalm 119:34}