In general, I don’t mind letting God have control over my life, as long as I can keep one hand on the brake in case of emergency, like the terrified parent of a teenager learning to drive. Life can be a strange amusement park ride, one that takes you around corners and in odd directions that don’t look or feel right, at least to begin with, and I want to be able to tap the breaks so that I can turn around and ask God, “Are you sure about this tunnel? Why do we need to flip upside down? I don’t like being upside down. We’re going too fast, aren’t we? Or too slow?”
I wish sometimes that I could see what God sees, the whole picture, the explanation for the twists and turns, and the reasoning for the times He apparently drops us off by the bathrooms or a concessions stand and doesn’t come back for a few hours. Why isn’t my career taking off? Where is the map, so I can find my own way there, paddling against the tide? Why am I stuck standing still?
Whatever else happens, I am a musician, irrevocably. Music is in my bones. Singing came easily and early to me (along with perfect pitch), and I started music lessons young. I chose cello as my primary instrument, or it chose me, and from the age of six I had one thing I could count on, one skill that would never let me down. It was also a label that would follow me from then on, but with that label came the security of having a niche, a place where I would always belong, and something that set me apart as special.
Fast forward to junior high, high school, and college, when it was no longer enough to be cute and talented; now I had to be better than everyone else. It turned out that I was still good, but not under pressure. Despite numerous strategies, I couldn’t talk myself down from debilitating nervousness during solo performances, and I was so exhausted keeping up with classes that I couldn’t practice enough to overcome the inevitable lapses in muscle memory or condition myself physically not to tense up or become prematurely fatigued while playing. In spite of all of this, I pushed on to numerous auditions, trying to follow some version of the typical career path that I had been training for as a classical musician. But God had shut the door.
I wish I could tell you that I have everything figured out now, that I understand why God chose a different path for me, and that I’ve figured out how to live with music outside of the traditional career paths. Sorry, I’m not there yet. God needed to teach me more important lessons about control and letting Him drive, and I’m a slow learner. One thing He’s still teaching me is that whether or not I’m earning money as a cellist, whether or not I practice every day (or every week!), none of that changes who I am as a person.
God gave me a wonderful gift. I’m not sure what to do with it right now, but I know that each time I play at church that I make someone’s day; their face lights up and they experience a little piece of God’s beauty through me. And, someday, God will lead me out of the tunnel and show me where I was headed all along. I’ve come to trust His judgement and navigational skills over mine, so I’m slowly, finger by finger, releasing my hand from the emergency brake and letting go.