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Tuesday, February 9, 2016

A More Beautiful Place

By Paula E. Bird

I find it interesting how "coincidence" works. Is there such a thing? Or is it synchronicity?

This week I have heard from two dear friends from different locations around the globe and about two different subjects, and yet both interactions concerned the same general theme. Let me share with you.

One sweet friend from the other side of the world, a missionary in Albania, wrote me to recommend some books for my teaching studio. One of these books can be heard on YouTube here. This is the story of the Lupine Lady and beautifully read here. The lesson takeaway for me from this lovely story is the "third thing" that the heroine must do in her lifetime: do something to make the world more beautiful.

My other dear friend is Camille Brady, a missionary in a neighboring community. Camille recently posted her remembered experience of the time that she spent preparing for her senior violin recital as an undergraduate student. Locked away for hours in her practice room (she calls it her "little box") she despaired that she was truly making a difference in her world. In her words:
I was in the midst of my strenuous degree program, practicing violin each day for hours in pursuit of better technique, improved musicality, and finally mastering that passage in Schubert's Violin Sonata. My time, my thoughts, my energy... everything revolved around my music studies. Over the course of several pretty intense weeks, I realized a dilemma: I had experienced a conviction that I was neglecting my call as a Christian to  proclaim the Gospel and build the Kingdom of God. How was I to share the Lord Jesus when every minute of my spare time was spent alone in the little box of my practice room? I took my predicament to a trusted mentor for some seasoned advice, and have continued to appreciate the simplicity of wisdom that was presented to me:
Well, could you imagine the world without beauty?
"Gosh, what does that have to do with my situation..." was the first thing that crossed my mind. But I sat with the question for a couple moments and thought of the multitude of times I had been struck with awe, delight, longing, even pain as I experienced that which is true beauty. Finally I responded, "No, I couldn't. That would be awful." The reply;
You are not simply practicing your instrument... this time you are spending right now is in preparation to share the beauty of music with the world.
In my words: Teaching can be a lonely profession. I know, that statement seems counter intuitive, but there are so many times when I sit with my thoughts during a lesson and question what I am doing:
  • Am I making a difference?
  • Is teaching music and ability and skill development worthwhile?
  • Does anyone really care?
And it occurred to me that parents must go through a similar questioning phase:
  • Does it matter whether my child really learns to play the violin (or the piano, or the guitar, etc.)?
  • Am I doing the right thing by insisting that my child practice every day or listen to the recordings of the songs that my child is studying?
  • Will my child really appreciate this hard work in the end?
As I sat with these questions and thought of the synchronous messages that I had received from my two friends, I realized that I had my answers, and I want to share these answers with any teachers or parents out there who also struggle with these sorts of questions.


The answer to all these questions is the same: YES! What you are doing will make a difference, is worthwhile, and matters to everyone and mostly to your child. Maybe not today, but yes, someday your child will appreciate this hard work. The world will also appreciate what you have spent time doing, because you are teaching one of God's most precious gifts -- a child -- how to make beauty and how to share it with the world.

So next time you find yourself questioning the value of what you do and struggling to keep on, remember this idea of making the world a more beautiful place. Recommit along with me to change the world -- one child, one family, one community at a time.

Happy Practicing!

----- Paula -----

To read Camille Brady's article "The Lovely Commission," click here.

To learn more about Camille, click here.

To learn more about Alongside Ministries, click here.

To learn more about Doni and Gail Lilo's ministry in Albania, click here and here.
 © 2016 by Paula E. Bird

1 comment:

  1. I'm honored to be part of your blog, Paula! Thanks so much!