“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord,
‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you,
plans to give you hope and a future. “
These last few days have been very difficult for me, mostly because I am experiencing a wave of emotions having to do with internal issues. I have questions about my life, past, present and future, a Christmas Carol so to speak. I have tried to give it to the Lord as each comes to the surface but at times it is soooo overwhelming and sooo hard to deal with alone. When I say alone, I mean as a single person. Thus I have decided to share openly in hopes of receiving some objective opinion.
I know God is present and I know He is listening. What I don’t know right at this moment, is what He is thinking about it all. And that is driving me absolutely crazy. It is the same in some of the relationships I have. In particular, ones I have made over the last several months, not knowing them very well it is hard to know what is on their mind about certain subjects. I am for the most part a fairly patient person but tend to want to know all the different perspectives (angles) so as to understand it better. It is my need to analyze everything and everyone that probably has me in flux.
One of the things I have been doing is visiting blogs and reading archives…trying to get a better picture of the people I am meeting and interacting with. I have found some to be very educating, some amusing and some just plain out there (ok this last comment does not include anyone on my friends list)
I visited one space a couple of weeks ago and started reading the archives from the beginning and since I just found this space I had not read many of his recent entries. I found myself being drawn into his life and wanting desperately to know how things turned out for him. So being the type of reader who does not like to read the end of the book first or to know how it ends I have decided not to read any of his current blogs until I have read through his archives. I have never read blogs this way before and I am curious as to why this is important to me.
He is a good writer and I find myself examining myself more as I read them. He writes openly and sincere, even raw at times. Of course, he is a single parent so I find it intriguing to get the male view on this way of life. Maybe this is the connection? Whatever it may be, I have learned a great deal about myself in taking this time to explore someone else’s thoughts. Asking myself questions and making myself answer them. I think that his story somehow touches the universal chord of my daily life. The struggle to survive in the mundane, the joy found in little moments, the questions asked of God and ourselves in the lonely nights, the effort it takes to move through life maintaining sanity and the act of communicating with others without losing our sense of self. Even those you do not get along with very well.
Tonight I read a particular entry he wrote in 2005.(see his quote below) He wrote this about the time I was spending my 2nd Christmas in grief. My husband had been in prison for 21 months. I had only been employed full time for 5 months. We were terribly behind on everything financially and Christmas looked bleak. I think of all the months since March of 2004 this was probably the lowest point for me. I had much to be grateful for but for the most part it was overcast by the ache in my heart from all the loss.
The entry was very poignant to me. He referenced the story called “The Touch Of The Master’s Hands” and then he recounted a story of a childhood experience with a violin. A violin that was later found out to be from Germany and made sometime before WWII. I read it several times because it struck several thoughts for me.
1st it brought back a memory to me of when I was 8. I was living in VA with my mother and my younger sister. We moved there after my parents divorced. It was a rather horrible time in my life. Being there was strange and different. We had left pretty much everything behind a rich middle class life as I knew it. My mother was working for minimum wage and did not receive child support so we had very little. I went to an elementary school where you knew who the rich kids were and who the poor kids were. I was of the latter. They had a music program there that would allow several “underprivileged” kids to take violin lessons for free. In order to get into the program you had to take a test. I scored the exact same score as another girl and so the one slot open was for one of us. They chose her. I am not sure why they chose her but I wonder what she did with her lessons? I am sure her life was much richer for having learned to play an instrument. Perhaps she became a world class violinists.
Perhaps the violin in the blog I read was played by a prisoner in a concentration camp to bring some beauty in the midst of the horror. I saw a violin sitting on the floor of a room made into a museum at the main building located in the Dachau Concentration Camp in 85 when I was stationed in Germany. Right above it was a photograph of several prisoners sitting on chairs playing stringed instruments. It was very haunting.
2nd thought after reading this was how often do we, who have come from broken homes or failed marriages or faced the death of a dream, wondered if our life would have been any different if we had made a different choice? I have been asked if I had known that my former husbands would betray me would I still have married them? To say no to such a question would be to erase the existence of my children and all the joy they have brought to my life.
I believe that everything happens for a reason and is ordained by God. No, I don’t believe it was His will that my husbands would betray me but I do believe it is His will that I trust Him through it and accept the lessons taught in it. Would knowing it have changed my being a better wife, you bet. Just as the man in the blog knowing back then that the violin had been repaired wrong might have made him want to try again at learning to play music. So in the end instead of beating ourselves up about what might have been if we had known certain things, we have to trust that God was and is in control of every thing in our lives.
3rd thing that came to mind was the disciples at the time their Lord was being crucified. Do you think they fully comprehended that He was doing His Father’s will? I am not convinced they knew at the time, exactly, what His death would mean to the world. They had to be questioning and doubting themselves and God, for that matter, for they could hardly remember all He told them let alone understand it. I believe after it was all said and done they probably at one time or another wondered through their grief how they could have just stood by and watch their Lord take punishment He did not deserve. The thought had to of crossed their mind that they could have done something to stop it. It wasn’t until they actually seen Him after His resurrection that they realized what He had given them not only in His life but in His death. It was then they started to understand the lessons He taught, the pain He had to suffer and the reality of who He was. They did not get all of it in the moments they walked with him, they understood it in hind site. After all hind site is 20/20 or so it goes….
I don’t know that I would have been a good violinist if I had been allowed to take the lessons. I may have been discouraged because of my home life or I may have thrown myself into it and become an excellent musician. Yes, my life would have been richer for that but I can’t mourn that because in faith I know it was not meant to be. My being a better wife may not have kept my husbands from doing what they did but perhaps it could have changed my mind about myself, in thinking that I was an utter failure in keeping a man committed to me. Because, again, in faith I know that I did the best that I could, loved them with all my heart and in the end it was ultimately their choices to make.
Man has always wondered about God and His plans…they often do not make sense. It seems we second guess Him on almost every turn. God’s plan to bring us back into fellowship with Him was made before the foundation of the earth. He knew in the beginning what He would have to do to accomplish this. He also knew what tiny detail, that I would overlook, to bring me to salvation. All things work together for good to them who are the called according to His purpose! Even a violin lesson that was never received!
With his permission quote from
Bonehead’s Twisted Paradise of half truths
There is a story about an auctioneer who is trying to sell an old, dusty violin to an audience that is not showing any interest in the instrument when an old man shuffles to the front to clean, tune and then play the instrument to the shocked crowd. The story says that after the audience heard the beautiful music everyone wanted to own the old violin. The idea is that Christ can touch someone who appears to be worthless and make them something valuable.
I have a story about a violin as well. My story lacks a moral, and really the only similarity to the story above (called ‘The touch of the Master’s hand’ by the way) is that it involves a violin. This story took place many years ago – my children know that I grew up somewhere between Columbus and the Space Shuttle – and my faded memory of these events would put them toward the Columbus end of this range.
In my elementary school there was a school orchestra. It was not large and not talented but it did encourage students to learn about music and to practice an instrument. I was interested in joining and my mother had an old violin that was purchased by my grandmother when my mother was young. I have heard that Grandma picked up the instrument at a flea market, but I think Grandma denies this. Regardless of the origin of the instrument, having it to play made me a budding violinist.
This instrument is old and it looks old. The other instruments I saw my fellow students playing were much newer. Many of them were leased, but some were purchased new as well. I remember that it did not matter to me that the instrument I had was old. I had an instrument to play and that was all that really mattered.
In Junior High it was a different story. I was still playing my old violin but most of the other people who were in the Junior High orchestra had shiny new instruments to play. I played my instrument as best as I could but I remember being self conscious about dragging the old thing out to play. I knew that my parents could never afford a new instrument and it never even entered my mind to ask them for one. I was raised to use and use up before buying again.
It was about this time when I broke the bow. I was imitating someone else and I don’t remember what stupid thing I did with the bow but it broke. This one event leads to a snowball effect. My dad took the violin into Salt Lake to get a new bow and while there he was informed that the violin was made in Germany before WWII and that although there were some problems with it that would require it to be re-worked it was a valuable instrument. I was never allowed to touch it again. I saw the violin for the first time since breaking the bow just this week and seeing it brought back a flood of memories resulting in this story beng written here.
While I was living in Florida after High School, my parents had the instrument re-worked and allowed my old violin teacher to play it after they got it back with all the parts and pieces properly connected. His comment was that it could not be the same instrument he remembered me playing. One of the major problems with the instrument when I played it was that the sound peg that connects the front and back surfaces of the violin was on the wrong side completely. Someone had previously repaired the instrument and had bungled the job badly.
Knowing this now allows me to understand a lot about my experience playing the violin. It is interesting that my old violin was so derided and yet was probably the most valuable instrument of any instrument in my peer group. Even the best played note from that violin lacked the clarity of the other instruments because of the many problems. A better person might have been driven to succeed and have learned to over come the handicap, but I became less and less interested in playing. I was not advancing and I am sure this frustrated my teachers as much as it did me. My best efforts were unrewarding and I began to just go through the motions more and more. I thought the problem was with me.
I gave up playing the violin without any resistance, but I have since come to wish that I had continued with it. I would love to know how to play the violin today but my life leaves me little oportunity to devote to its study now. It remains on my never ending list of things I would like to learn… someday.
Perhaps this story has a moral after all. I wonder how many times we give up at something because we are handicapped without knowing it. I wonder how many times we see people flying past obstacles that seem insurmountable to us without realizing that they are using a completely different set of tools. You never know why some things are so difficult for you to master until you know the end of the story.
I misjudged myself as a lousy violinist and it was with no real sadness that I saw the instrument taken from me. I wonder how often I have made this mistake both with my life and when judging the lives of others.