This Christmas, I learned that sometimes Christmas and gifts are about more than things we buy in Amazon or at Target. In the middle of all the craziness and fun, I had the opportunity to experience a different type of Christmas.
Several weeks ago, at church, I was asked to be the pianist for our choir. Now, let me explain, just a little. I am not a stellar pianist. I have played for a long time and have even taught lessons to beginner pianists. But playing in public, has always terrified me. It is one of the scariest things I can possibly think of doing. I said yes, because I believe in giving all I can when asked and I hoped that the songs wouldn't be very hard. I'll never forget the first time I tried to play through the music. I was completely overwhelmed and I wanted to cry. It just seemed more than I could pull together in a few weeks and the thought of messing up--in front of everyone--was enough to bring on a panic attack. I began to practice, every day. I hadn't practiced on a regular basis, in years, and it was kind of nice. But no matter how good the music sounded in my own living room, it all fell apart when I tried to play for the choir. I couldn't get the right beat. I couldn't hit the right notes. In fact, the practice we had just one week before our performance I was so bad that I began to cry and cried through the whole practice. I couldn't stop the tears and I felt nothing but utter humiliation. I came home and told my husband that they would just have to find someone else. There was no way I was going to put myself through that in front of everyone. I was so embarrassed, I didn't even want to see the other choir members again. If I could have hid away, for the rest of my life, I would have!
For a few days, I mulled around in my head every possible way out of it. Maybe I could tell them I just wasn't good enough and surely someone else would do a better job. I thought about faking sick or even praying that I would really get sick! I even half wondered if I could quickly put together a move before the week's end!
And then, in the midst of all my despair, I realized that my meager attempt-no matter how lame it was, was my gift to the Savior. I had been asked to do something and I had agreed. To give up or turn my back was not really an option for me. And so, in total humility, I knelt and prayed. I offered my meager talent as the only offering I had. I was desirous to do the right thing and I promised to do my best. I felt peace, but most of all, I felt a reliance upon Christ that He would help me through it. As the Bible says, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." I clung to that hope. I depended upon that with what little faith I could muster. I believed in Him. But in myself, I had more doubt. Knowing that faith and doubt can not co-exist, I prayed and prayed for strength.
The morning of the program came and I felt a calm that I wasn't expecting to feel. Compared with the fear that had clutched me for weeks, I felt calm and peace. Again, I knelt and prayed and offered it into His hands. It was my gift-no matter how small and I was willing to do my best. I didn't play perfect and I'm pretty sure that I'm not in the running to accompany that great angelic choir on high! But I did survive. I didn't mess up so badly that the program was ruined and no one pointed and laughed. I think the message of that night so long ago was portrayed through music and words and all of us were enriched.
But even more important than the fact that I survived was the feelings that came afterwards. I felt confidence that I could do it again. I knew that I could play for the next time and do even better. I realized that the Savior had not only accepted my meager gift, but he blessed me and strengthened me through it. It was that feeling that no matter what I give and do, I will be the one to still receive more in the end. And through my silly trial of public humiliation, I learned a powerful lesson of His atonement. He only asks that we come and follow and in doing so, he blesses us and strengthens us and makes us better. He takes our meager efforts and turns it into so much more.
Perhaps what I am trying to explain is best told by C.S. Lewis:
“Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right, and stopping the leaks in the roof, and so on: you knew that those jobs needed doing and you are not surprised. But presently He starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably, and does not seem to make sense. What on earth is He up to?
The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of– throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards. You thought you were going to be made into a decent little cottage: but He is building a palace. He intends to come and live in it Himself.”
So, as I wrap up my blogging of this Christmas season, I am thankful for the journey I am on. I am thankful to know that Christ is more than a baby that was born in a manger so many years ago. He is more than someone who walked on earth and taught of Heavenly things. He is more than someone who gave His life for millions. He knows me. He cares about me. And in my weakest and darkest moments, He is there to strengthen me and help me to become the person He knows I can become. This isn't a message just for December. This is a truth I can feel and share all year long.
Thank you for letting me share my experience. I truly hope you all have a very Merry Christmas and that the real meaning of this beautiful day will radiate in your heart and into the coming year!
For the freebie for today, I have a card template.