In grade school, I sang in the choir. It was for special occasions only, concerts and the like. It was fun. My mom sang, so I thought I’d give it a whirl.
In 6th grade, now living with Dad, I tried out for band. I’ve written about this before, so I won’t belabor it. What I discovered as I progressed is that learning the notes and rhythms got me promoted in my section. I learned by practicing, building up from 15 minutes to a half hour to an hour a night. I learned dynamics. I learned time signatures and key signatures. I learned to sightread pretty well. I grasped what I thought was music.
Enter college. With my slight scholarship, I majored in flute performance. My audition tape (yes, tape) garnered me $500. I picked this song, way too ambitious for a seventeen-year-old with intermittent lessons and ultimately proved rather flimsy and flashy as an audition piece. Our high school band teacher played a record of it (!) and I fell in love with it. I ate, drank and slept it for several weeks.
Let’s just agree that my student model flute and I didn’t do it justice. Did I mention I had no accompanist? But the gorgeous cadenza! Sigh. Probably the music department at Bethany thought, Well, she’s got chutzpah, as a flubbed my way through all the 32nd-note runs.
What I discovered as I pursued the degree is that it was all too easy to hide behind the title “the flute player”. Nobody else trod the path alongside me; I had uniqueness going for me. I was okay with that for awhile, then I wanted something more. I mastered the notes but the expression, other than louds and softs, eluded me. I guess you could’ve called me wooden.
It became easier to just be “the flute player” rather than Susan. Hiding like this provides protection and safety. Even now, I’d rather be the backup singer. The mom. The grant compliance coordinator. Those are roles well-defined, with handles that stick out. I can grasp them with one hand, eyes closed. The thinking involved has to do with getting the job done, not who I am.
Like studying beautiful music, I had to learn to emote, give out from inside me, in order to truly make music. I had to let down my guard and feel. I’m finding now that I need to be who God made me. Again, this involves vulnerability. The louds and softs of Susan sometimes elude me, but I’m catching on. I don’t get to be what I do. I’m privileged to be allowed to do many things in several arenas. But the doing flows from who I am: God’s child.
Anyone who believes in me may come and drink! For the Scriptures declare, ‘Rivers of living water will flow from his heart.'” – John 7:38