I used to get stuck in doors when I played Call of Duty. Those controllers were the death of me hundreds and hundreds of times, and when it wasn’t that I was getting lost on the maps, even the small ones. I don’t get stuck in doors anymore, but I’ve yet to master the game. I never will.
I simply don’t have the time.
It’s unfortunate for impatient souls like me, but mastery of anything–including fake combat with a plastic controller–takes… time. Lots of it. That’s why I quit playing the violin.
I began playing the violin when I was eleven after I won a violin in an auction. I’d always wanted to play, and my chance finally came. I loved it. But it’s so dang hard to play, and after years of lessons I was no master. I was tired of being embarrassed by my lack of skill. I was an adult now. I had a full time job, little time to practise, and no money for lessons (and no one in my apartment block wanted to listen to me screech). Writing had become my passion. So I played one last recital, and I haven’t even opened the case since.
That’s also why I don’t play hockey, or paint, or draw anymore. I hate being bad, and I’ve no time to be good.
But I can’t always quit things I’m bad at, can I? Case in point: singing in the church choir.
Swearing at the Choir
It doesn’t sound difficult. You show up and sing. But as singers, we are considered leaders and we are held to a high standard in how we live and relate to Jesus. This accountability is excellent. But I’ve come face to face with reality in the past few days. I’m a the good Christian nice girl. I’m kind of a bitch. I rant. I swear. I go into seething fits about inconsequential details, and offences, and misunderstandings. I critique others mercilessly while indulging myself. I’m addicted to silly things like YouTube and chips.
I’ve been flabbergasted by my inability to connect to, and like the music I sing. Two ladies were cooing about how much they liked the new Christmas songs, and inside I’m like ‘really? I think they’re lame.’ This should all be so secondary, because the music is hardly the point. The point is to worship Jesus through song, and by giving of my time and energy and voice so that others can meet with God.
My leaders have told me is that the frustration I bear owes to the fact that I have a lot of personal and spiritual growing to do. I know they’re right, and I’m depressed about it. I want to be fixed. Now.
And that’s impossible.
A Summer of Masochism
While in prayer yesterday, God reminded me of how I learned to run. I began Couch to 5K on June 17th, ran my first 5K race on August 19th, and ran 10K on November 1st. This would have been impossible without 1) a program 2) time 3) lacing up and never missing a workout. Most of it was great, but there were horrible things mingled in–days when I almost puked from heat an exertion, speed intervals in downpours, black and blue toenails, 5Ks I ran while sick with burning lungs and muscles (probably shouldn’t have done that). Basically, I was never without pain for the entire summer.
Does that sound like torture? Well, it sort of was. But here I am a runner, and I’m so glad.
So I sensed that he was telling me not to be discouraged because I couldn’t be strong that very instant. I need time, training, and discipline. It’s amazing what a year can do. But what about two?
I have big plans for next year. I’ll run my first 10K races, and I plan to run my first half-marathon at the end of the summer. But there’s a chance that I’m thinking too small entirely, and what I’ll end up accomplishing is a lot bigger than that. Effort, compounded, can do surprising things over time.
If you’re willing to give it.
Mohammed Ali said, “I hated every minute of training, but I said ‘Don’t quit. Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion.'”