Flute, Fear, and Faith
You think that I--with my musical family, musical exposure, musical opportunities, and musical ambitions--absolutely love blowing into my metal tube (A.K.A. flute) for hours and hours and hours. You suppose that practicing is fun for me, all the time. You suppose that I want nothing from life but to keep blowing and blowing and blowing. Unfortunately…you're wrong. Sometimes, practicing drives me crazy. Why? First, whenever I'm not playing, I feel like I should be playing. And since I can't play all the time, a cloud of guilt hangs over me. Second, I am not a perfect player. I make mistakes. I haven’t mastered certain finger patterns. And worst of all, sometimes I pick up my instrument, blow…and my tone--the color of my sound--is terrible. Third, while my lungs are pumping air in and out and my fingers are whirring up and down the keys, my brain often says, “Why are you doing this?”
You see, the idea of the flute has never been easy for me. Yes, I have always loved it. I love its clearness and vitality. I love the way it slowly and yearningly pulls me up until I am soaring through musical heights, then gently drops me back down, leaving me craving another phrase. To me, it’s the most beautiful instrument. But here’s where my poetic picture ends and the hard reality sets in: to be able to play with that kind of controlled passion takes years and years of practice. No, the idea of flute was never easy for me. Thoughts of those menacing but unavoidable years of practice cruelly mocked me. “You could never do that!” they scoffed. “You could never practice that much. You could never be good enough to excel on this instrument!” And for a while, I believed my own self-doubt. After all, I can’t double-tongue that well. My high notes can be gratingly sharp. And I have never performed flawlessly. The doubt seemed to be telling the truth: I would never be good enough. Negative thought after negative thought piled up on my shoulders until, at every possible moment, I was tearing myself down about my musical abilities. Then, God spoke to me. His voice cut through my self-doubt like a powerful ray of sunshine bursts through a dark cloud. Through an unexpected prayer at my church’s women’s retreat, He said, “If I open a door for you, I will enable you to walk through it.” That was all. But it was all I needed to hear: If God gave me opportunities to pursue the flute, He would surely help me get to the necessary level; if God opened the Flute Door in my life, He would lead me across the threshold.
I wish I could say, “Since then, I’ve been great! I've stopped doubting God and myself and am no long beaten down--practicing no longer drives me crazy.” But that would be a lie. Discouragement always stands nearby, waiting to sneak through a crack in my faith. Sometimes, I feel the burden of interminable practice and personal incapability beginning to weigh me down. But that's when I stop and remember the truth: my music is bigger than myself--what God gives me to do for His glory He will surely accomplish.