"Perfect" makes practice fun
Reprinted from the November 6, 2006, issue of the Christian Science Sentinel.
Since this new school year started, there’s been no more sleeping in for this family. With piano performances, last-minute homework assignments, after-school choir rehearsals, and a 7:10 school bus to catch each day, there isn’t much downtime.
Still, we always make time in the mornings to read with our children from the Weekly Bible Lesson (found in the Christian Science Quarterly). Praying together is strengthening and unifying, and it gives us spiritual ideas we can use during the day.
We saw proof that this activity was worthwhile a year ago. Things were getting particularly stressful, and we really had to put our prayers into practice. Thirteen-year-old Josh, our youngest, needed to practice 45 minutes on the piano in the mornings.
I was beginning to dread his piano lessons.
The constant emphasis on “practice makes perfect” was becoming anything but fun to enforce, and I was beginning to dread his piano lessons each week. When Josh participated in recitals, my husband, Craig, and I would often just hold each other’s sweaty hands and pray to put down feelings of fear about Josh’s performance.
I prayed to know that, as Christ Jesus said, “The kingdom of heaven is at hand,” and to see that in God’s kingdom there had to be joy and peace at all times.
Finally, the biggest competition day of the year was approaching, in which our son was to perform a classical duet with his teacher. It was a difficult, fast piece, and his timing had to be perfect. Josh and I talked about his God-given talents and the fact that when he played the piano, he expressed spiritual qualities in the beauty, order, and accuracy of every note he hit. He had early on learned to pause before each recital and acknowledge prayerfully that God controlled his performance. He knew that we reflect God in the good we do, and that we’re never on our own, even on stage.
He couldn’t play the piece through without major mistakes.
But the day before the competition, Josh was in tears. Even though we’d prayed and he’d practiced and practiced, he couldn’t play the piece through without major mistakes, either alone or with his teacher. We actually called the teacher and discussed his withdrawing from the competition. But she encouraged us to go forward.
At this point, I prayed to understand that Josh and every child in the recital belonged to God, who is Love and who guides each of His children.
At first, my concern seemed overwhelming. But then a wonderful thing happened. As I began to listen to God with my whole heart, it was as if He was telling me, “Josh is My son, and I’m in complete control of him.” It was a gentle rebuke to me—with lots of love wrapped around it—and it washed over me like a warm wave of love. I felt free to let go of my fears and just enjoy the music, something I’d never honestly done.
At the recital, Josh played perfectly.
Then, at the recital, I almost couldn’t believe what I heard. Josh played perfectly. Every note was full of joy. The timing was amazing. The music was flawless.
When Josh took his bow he was beaming. He told us later that when he played that day, he was only thinking about being loving to his teacher and supporting her with his part of the duet. Several times he’d thought he didn’t know what to do next, but then he’d just feel something moving his hands to play the right notes. He said he felt so close to God.
In the quiet of my bed that night, I thanked God for helping me know how to be a better parent. In the fullness of my gratitude, I saw that, as a matter of fact, absolutely speaking, “perfect makes practice.”
This message was based on the wonderful account of creation in the Bible, where we read, “And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good.” I now feel strengthened in the understanding that we don’t need to become anything through practice, because we already are the perfect spiritual expression of our divine Father-Mother. We can prove this spiritual fact in all we do.
This new school year is holding a promise of greater trust in God’s care. And I feel so much more peace as our family ventures into our busy schedules with a better understanding that perfection isn’t in our keeping, but in God’s.
Ginny Leudeman is a Christian Science practitioner who lives in Salem, Oregon, United States.
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