I’m a piano pedagogy major, which means I want to teach piano from my home or a studio. It also means that I practice – a lot. I’m at the piano at least two hours each day, if not more.
My second semester of freshman year, I started feeling sharp pains whenever I practiced the piano. I was being taught that “If it hurts, it’s wrong,” and so I had to stop playing for awhile as I, my teacher, and concerned fellow pianists tried to figure out what was wrong.
Was I using bad technique? My teacher didn’t think so. Was I playing too strenuous material? Of course not. Was it signs of carpel tunnel? The symptoms didn’t point to that. And on and on down the list. There didn’t seem to be anything horribly wrong with the way I played – yet every time I tried to practice I inevitably would experience pain and have to stop.
For at least a month I practiced only lightly for maybe 15 or 20 minutes a day. It was definitely one of the hardest times for me. My beloved piano playing – which was not only my major & career, but also my identity and way of expressing myself – was pretty much taken away from me. There were days I cried at the piano, days I was angry at my hands and played through the pain. I had based so much of my worth on playing the piano that when it was taken away from me I hardly knew what to do with myself. At times I felt like I had no purpose anymore.
But God gently and insistently taught me during that time just how important He was in my life: reminding me that I am his child, first and foremost. It doesn’t matter what I can or cannot do in this world – simply to be His gives me purpose enough.
Most of this I knew from my church’s teachings and reading the Bible, yet it had never sunk in in such a profound way before. Often we don’t let things that we know affect our life until we’re forced to come face to face with them.
I was forced to surrender and believe that if God took my ability to play my instrument completely from me, I would still be whole. Because I am his.
That was such a hard surrender, but by God’s grace, I was able to lay my piano playing at His feet. And you know what? Soon after I laid it down, He gave it back to me. Slowly, sometimes maddeningly slowly, but he restored my hands. I was able to pinpoint a few things that might have caused the problem, and build up my strength with short, “light” practices and plenty of stretching. And throughout it all I had to hold to the promise – God is my father, and He loves me. He does what’s best for me.
I am a pianist. But a better way to define me is:
a daughter of the Most High God,
who, by God’s grace,
plays the piano.
(This post was originally a guest post at my friend Kim's blog, Thinking Deeply. Reposted with permission.)