26 August 2008

Practice Makes Perfect


All the days of the afflicted are bad,
But a cheerful heart has a continual feast.
~ Proverbs 15:15

One of the joys of my life has been playing the piano. I have a lovely heritage of a musical family, including a grandmother who entered Julliard on a full scholarship and played a harp solo for the President of the United States in the White House when she was 16 years old. Although it has been years since I played professionally, I long to find the hours to let my fingers dance on the ebony and ivory keys as I used to. It was a private sanctuary for me, letting the music simply come from within, improvising and composing on the fly. And...it felt like my soul was flying. :)

But no baby bird flies on it first attempt and the same is true for aspiring pianists. The unavoidable truth, even for those gifted in music: "Practice makes perfect."

How true...in so many areas of life.

Even when it comes to having a thankful spirit.

From Debi Pearl's Created To Be His Help Meet:

Discontentment is not a product of circumstances; it is the
state of the soul.
Thankful people have a view of life that begins somewhere deep
in their souls, and outside circumstances just can't mar their joy.
Thankfulness is how you think; joy is the abundance it produces.
Contentment is a choice. And because of the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit in us who confess Jesus Christ, we can make a choice to be content. No matter what. And it's a choice we make and re-make daily. Even moment to moment on some days.

And it takes practice. Simply embracing contentment and grattitude. Starting from the outside and going in, if need be. A simple smile is a great place to start. And soon, like a pianist who chooses to practice every day, building a habit of mind and body with each rehearsal, soon each rendition flows more beautifully and freely. Ask a pianist how it has happened and they will tell you that practice was paramount. And so it is with all of us, those of us who long to be free, to fly, to fill our souls with the music of thanksgiving.

Truthfully, we are always practicing something. We are never zombies merely "living." That is the excitement, and the burden, of living a life. We are choosing our attitudes and perspectives, even if we are unaware of it. Life is simply like that.

Beloved, as Debi Pearl asks in her book, I ask you now: Have you practiced playing the notes of bitterness, sourness, hurt feelings, and frustration so long that these discordant notes are the ones your soul finds most easily, almost without a thought? It need not be so. You can practice joy and thanksgiving, soon just as easily, and certainly with a great deal more pleasure!

Each day, every good and cheerful response you choose makes the fingers of you soul discover the notes of joy and gratitude more easily, until it becomes a real part of you. I have been learning this lesson in recent months in ways I never have before. As I have particularly given myself to a journey of seeking God's best for me as a wife, I am learning to enjoy life, no matter what. To be thankful. Smile. When I catch myself becoming irritated or disturbed at circumstances, I try to stop and laugh at the little things that steal my peace.

And, though my piano remains neglected in the family room, I have never had my soul so full of heavenly music. Oh, I have a lot of practicing to do! But, even what little I offer to the Lord in this way, He multiplies with His grace.

The LORD is my strength and my shield;
My heart trusts in Him,
and I am helped.
Therefore my heart exults,
And with my song
I shall thank Him.
~ Psalm 28:7

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