Monday, September 22, 2014

Struggling to Submit

Last week, I had a really rough piano lesson.  Today, things went better.  An issue, though, is still at play that I must keep a handle on.  Nerves are the main problem, but the cause of that main problem was revealed later in the week.  And it makes sense, but it really surprised me.  The reason I struggle with nerves and performing under pressure is submission.
Selfie in Georgetown, CO.  He's a catch!

Submission is typically what you hear in the pulpit about wives and their husbands.  This submission issue is much broader than me respecting Mr. Butler.  This is submission to anyone and anything.  Even walking in a crowd at the fair, I practically refuse to be lead by someone else. Either I don't trust them to be right and/or I couldn't possibly face being wrong.  In a piano lesson (or every other role in my life), I don't want to be wrong.  Not only do I not want to be wrong, but I don't want to be thought of as wrong, unenlightened or criticized in any way.  Unless, of course, it was my idea.  Then it's fine.  But ultimately I'm still right.  See that?

Even when the entire purpose of an encounter (a piano lesson, for example) is to critique my performance, it still kills me if I don't execute well.  And with the amount of practice I haven't done in recent years and how difficult it is to find quiet time for focused practice, it's absolutely reasonable that I should struggle for a while.  Due to a series of events over the week, my refusal to be honest and humble with myself became painfully obvious to me.  All of the lessons about Jesus' humbling himself for my sake, when he of all beings had a right to be indignant and self-righteous never really fully made it into my heart.  I found my humility stretched as far as everyone else treating me fairly went.  Whenever that stopped, then my submission quit.  So yeah, I know.  It never really was there to begin with.

Facing mountains can force you to face your own struggles with more honesty.

I come from several lines of strong-willed, prideful, sensitive people and knowing something about myself doesn't make it disappear over night.  I do know this, though: I had a better lesson today.  I practiced more, so that definitely helped.  But I went in admitting and accepting to myself that I had a lot of work to do.  I was there to learn to be better, not prove I'm the best (which I'm never going to be anyway).  I'm not sure what this is going to look like or mean in the future, but I have a feeling that understanding submission throughout my whole existence is a key to pleasing God, no matter what.
And pleasing God has never been so real to me as with having a daughter.  While she may have some personality traits like her daddy, Lord willing, she will walk the road of a woman.  If and how she strives to please the Lord and demonstrate grace and humble beauty to those around her lies largely on what she sees.  And she's going to see a lot of me.  I pray that my heart will learn submission and grace quickly.

My girl

Thursday, September 18, 2014

8 years ago this week, Mr. Butler and I were in the middle of our honeymoon in Flagstaff, AZ.  There's a lot I wish I'd known back then, but there's probably even more I did know and didn't pay attention to.  Growing is hard and life can become sticky before you realize it.  But that week we started something really beautiful and I'm so happy we did!

This picture is a really great representation of what it was like for me 'searching' for my future husband.  Whether intentionally or not, I had this outlined picture of him - his characteristics, his way - and so I had the idea, but never could exactly make out his face for sure.  When I finally did, it was such a surprise - a fantastic, perfect surprise.

8 years isn't a big milestone and (though I can't speak for Randy) we're not exactly swooning every other heartbeat for one another, the quietness of this year speaks volumes enough though.  Neither of us are finished growing and unless the Lord comes back quickly we'll have plenty more transitions to go through.  We can fight like little kids (and we do sometimes), but we're also still here dreaming about the days ahead.  Something in my fb newsfeed today said 20% of marriages end within 5 years and 32% within 10 years.  Marriage is a delicate animal that is easily swayed in one direction or another.  But when both are swaying it in the same general direction over time, it grows stronger than ever thought possible.

This guy is the goofiest, most intelligent person I know.  I desperately need him, but I think most days he'd agree  I can fill in all those gaps in his nature too, just like peanut butter! 

God knew that I would put up such a fight with anything that I didn't agree with right away.  I'm so thankful that He also knew the strength Randy possessed that would set me right a gazillion times over and protect our family from my foolishness so many times.  One thing we certainly got right was finding someone who could provide what we needed rather than just what we liked.  

With busy schedules, frantic hearts and a mile long prayer list, tender moments can get drowned out.  I'm so thankful God designed marriage for us to refocus on the tenderness of life, especially when the world gets loud.  

Monday, September 15, 2014

In the Face of Fear

As a child, I took piano lessons.  I always enjoyed playing the piano, but I usually hated my lessons.  I had a couple of different teachers over the years, but none of the issues I had were their fault.  I didn't like the pressure of practicing and performing everything just right.  I knew when it wasn't right, but the more I seemed to know, the more pressure I felt to perform.  All of which added to the whirlpool of destruction in my mind.

As you know, I teach piano part-time and have played for my own entertainment off and on for the past few years.  By design I don't perform much.  Unless I'm 100% prepared, which doesn't happen often, I. get. nervous.  And not just a pit in my stomach beforehand, but do better than I expect-nervous.  I get - make mistakes you never make at home because hands are shaking and everything you try to NOT be nervous only brings more attention to the fact and results in more nerves-nervous.

So, for a few clerical reasons, a free grant paying the bill and Mr. Butler saying, "Do it.  I'll be good for you.", I am taking piano lessons myself for the first time in 12 years.  And, yes, I still get nervous.  Frustratingly nervous.  I mean it's a little (okay, a LOT) humiliating to know what you're doing wrong but appear to be clueless as I stumble around on the piano as though I only looked at the piece once over the past week. It's something that I have to seriously work on.  The main answer is that I need to practice as much as possible.  The complicated answer is that I have to structure my time differently and insist on my own discipline and for others to respect that boundary.   

Regardless, the reason I'm sharing this with you, besides therapeutic purposes, is to say that everyone has areas in their life where they should perform better than what they are.  Their experience and training should put them higher up.  They should know better than to stumble at such a little thing.  They should have gotten their act together by now.  We all have the proverbial 20 lbs of weight we should never have gained or the debt that shouldn't have spun out of control.  We all have something.  And maybe today you should face it, instead of avoiding it.  

I hate feeling like an idiot when I play poorly.  But not playing or running away like the little girl I feel like inside is the worst way to handle it.  It might be a really long road to truly face the skeleton you're avoiding, but I think it's time, don't you?  It won't be easier next year.  That's what you said the past several times and it hasn't exactly panned out.  I'm going to go practice.  What are you going to do? :)