Learning of any kind is a process.
Before Ron and I married, he had taken enough guitar lessons to enable him to strum a few chords. But then, life happened. Kids. Work. Church. Like most families, we lived on the fast track. All the while, his guitar quietly sat in the closet – until recently!
Now, both of us have a few more minutes to devote to learning new things. Since dementia has unkindly affected both of our families, we thought it would be a good idea for us to regularly exercise our brains. So, Ron dusted off his guitar and found some online lessons to help him improve old skills and learn new ones. Though I played the trumpet in school, I always wished I’d chosen to play the more expressive saxophone. So, I purchased a saxophone last week and found some online lessons.
Ron’s gentle strumming sounds sweet and melodic. My ragged C scale on the other hand sounds like a squawking, angry duck. Our goal is to play a song together for our family at Christmas. But, it’s a process!
As our fingers learn to take new paths, I can’t help but compare our musical trek to the journey all relationships encounter. Whether you have a spouse, a friend, or a child, the process is the same.
Starting out, you most likely showed some sort of interest in getting to know the other person. There was some kind of visceral connection. In the case of your spouse, it may have been purely physical at first. With a friend, perhaps there was a common interest or purpose. With your child, it was the purest form of love.
The more you learn about your new target of affection, the more you want to know. You don’t mind spending hours just getting to know them.
Eventually, however, the new wears off. Your relationship isn’t progressing as fast or in the direction you hoped. No matter how often you practice or fine tune your heart, things still seem a little off pitch. Frustration and disappointment soon set in. You can’t seem to learn all the right notes fast enough. You finally realize the two of you are playing two different songs.
Crossroads in relationships always provide us with a choice of octaves. We can choose to stay on the same familiar low road and never push ourselves to get any better. Or, we can choose to learn a higher octave of notes. Ones that take us to new heights and teach us to play new songs. Isn’t it amazing what happens when Christians choose to play the same life song in complete harmony?
My junior high band director’s name was Mr. Pettway. He pushed us into competitions that we weren’t completely ready for just to make us better. There was always a sight reading portion that struck fear into all of our hearts. It was hard enough concentrating on our tone, pitch, and fingering, but trying to play the right rhythm the first time through made my heart pound many beats faster than the tempo of the music. When we got completely out of sync and sounded like an entire flock of squawking, angry ducks, he would lift his hands, pause the performance, and point us all back to the same place.
God has pushed me into some relationships just to make me better. I see that now. Maybe you also know that feeling. Like a good leader of the band, God doesn’t mind lifting a hand to pause the performance long enough for everyone to get back in sync. “May God, who gives this patience and encouragement, help [us] live in complete harmony with each other, as is fitting for followers of Christ Jesus.” (Romans 15:5 NLT)
As members of God’s band, each of us has the responsibility to learn the song He’s lovingly provided. Our notes are found in the pages of Scripture. Like learning a new instrument, we must first learn our own parts for ourselves before we can ever melodically harmonize with anyone else. It’s a process that takes desire, time, diligence, and practice to ever be able to enjoy sweet meaningful relationships. The song you learned early on may not be the same song He wants you to play today with your spouse, friend, or child. He wants to take you to a higher octave so that you can play a new song – one of sweeter praise to our God. Then, others might hear it and put their trust in Him! (Psalm 40:3) If you aren’t in tune yet, be patient. God is not finished.
Learning of any kind is a process.
“Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love. Make every effort to keep yourselves united in the Spirit, binding yourselves together with peace.” (Ephesians 4:2-4 NLT)