I sat in my favorite chair with a baby while I listened to piano practice. I wasn't sure what she was playing, but it was lovely - a soft, gentle melody played at just the right rhythm. I closed my eyes and listened until she hit a discordant note. I opened my eyes while she backed up and tried again. A few minutes later, another false start. Normally, about this time I jump in with practice suggestions or question where in the piece she's at so that I can offer some "helpful" advice. This time, though, I kept my mouth shut and listened. At the end, I said, "Sweetheart, that was beautiful. Could you play it again?" She beamed at the praise (which can be too hard to win) and began again. As she played, I was impressed that while some of the areas she had stumbled on were now problem-free, there were other areas that needed work - a wrong note, uneven timing.
As she continued to play, I felt the Lord impress on my heart how my own desire for accomplishment and excellence can lead me to miss the joy in the simple tasks I've been given. Though her piece wasn't quite "performance ready", it was still beautiful and she was clearly enjoying playing it. Do I enjoy my work, whether I'm doing it perfectly or not? Or am I so bound up in "getting it right" that I fail to enjoy being at home with my family?
Do I freak out because the baby isn't sleeping when I'd like, or do I relish a few extra minutes to snuggle with him? Do I get wound up over the mess the kids left, or enjoy the fact that they worked together happily on a project they had fun with? And like my musicians tend to do, do I rush past the trickier, more difficult areas to the parts that I'm familiar with and do well, or do I seek to learn from my (many) mistakes, being prepared to try, try again?
Our God does not promise ease and instant success, but toil and trial. But there is beauty, too, if we have eyes to see it. A friend who had done some battle with cancer (and has since won) said, "I don't want to waste this. I don't want to miss whatever He might want to teach me in this trial." I don't want to miss it, either - I want to receive all the goodness He has for me, both high notes and low, knowing they all come together to make a beautiful melody, enjoyed by the Audience of One.