I sit on the little bench pulled close to the keyboard. My heart is pounding; my hands shaking. I have practiced the music for hours. I know the notes, the rhythm. She sits close beside, this teacher who is friend – filled with such grace and kindness. I fumble my way through the song, heart sinking. It sounds as though I never practiced a note, and I am so discouraged – yet again.
I apologize for the mistakes, and she smiles, says it is fine. Gently she encourages me to stop being so hard on myself – to let perfectionism go. It is all right not to play it exactly as written – to miss a note here and there. I nod agreement all the while knowing that, although she is right, I will still try to get it right.
It is a life-long habit, this trying to win approval by being as good as I possibly can. It is an exercise in futility. I will never be all things to all people. I will fail; I will be wrong (oh dear!); there will be some people who just plain don’t like me. But the striving has gotten me into places I never wanted to go. So I ask Him to change this perfectionist heart. And He gives me a picture:
I see Him, long before I was conceived, sitting with pen in hand and a long roll of blank sheet music before Him. He looks ahead in time, my life playing out in its entirety. He dips His pen in the ink and begins to write the symphony of my days.
The melody takes form – beautiful and lilting – until a discordant note makes its way onto the staff. Instead of reaching for the white-out, He continues forming notes on lines and spaces, some lovely some so out of tune.
He doesn’t crumble up the paper in frustration and toss it in the trash. He keeps composing – incorporating the notes made up of the wrong choices, failures and rebellion of an all-too-human heart into the song.
When He is finished, He picks up the music and seats Himself at the grand piano. I wait, heart pounding, to hear the discordant music of my life. His hands move gently over the keyboard and liquid notes pour into the room – a beautiful melody of grace and love.
He turns to me and holds my gaze with eyes that look deep within my heart and simply nods slowly.
“My frame was not hidden from You, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in Your book were written every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.” Psalm 139:15, 16
I wrote this post several years ago, but it still rings so true today.