Tonight in my wind ensemble rehearsal, I actually enjoyed playing my clarinet for the first time in a while. I’ve played for about 11 years, but I’ve had a complicated relationship with my clarinet for the past couple. Somewhere down the line, I started to care too much about whether or not I sounded great, and I felt like there wasn’t much of a point to playing at all if I didn’t sound great. There are several problems with that mindset, and one of them is that I would lose the desire to play whenever I felt insecure about my skills. Since I’m too hard on myself, this has happened a lot.
But tonight I tried to take a different approach to playing. I thought about how blessed I am to be able to have studied music in college, to play clarinet, and even just to own my beautiful instrument.
I’m a sinner. I don’t deserve grace or mercy. I don’t deserve the clothes on my back, or the heat of the sun that shines down on me, or another day. And I don’t deserve Christ’s life given for me on the cross. But God has given me all of those things, and more than that too. It is by the grace and love of God that I get to create music; it’s another gift that he has lavished on me. And it’s a good gift.
“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, with whom there is no change or shifting shadow.” -James 1:17
Put that way, I can stop worrying about whether or not I sound great, and I can play out of a heart of thankfulness.
I think that people need to create out of thankfulness. Not just music, but art or writing or cooking; any number of things.
Have you ever gone through an extended period of time where you didn’t create anything? Or perhaps you only created anything for the sake of achieving productivity. That’s what I’ve been doing lately, more or less, and it has made me feel sad and empty. But when I create something just for the fun of it, just because I can, I feel good. I feel a sense of purpose and joy at the marvel of building something with my own hands.
If we’re made in the image of God, I think we need to create. I suppose it’s a calling. None of us would exist without his desire to create, and I think that he has passed that desire onto us. I think it’s good for our souls and minds and bodies. But we can’t create just to try and be great. If that’s your purpose, you’ll just find yourself at a dead end sooner or later.
I think that God loves to listen to me play clarinet, but not because my playing knocks his socks off or anything like that. It doesn’t. Rather, he loves to listen to me play because he loves me and because he’s the one who gives me the ability to play. When I play, I’m making good use of one of the gifts he has given me, and I think that it warms his heart. My playing is like a silly crayon drawing that God has hung up on his fridge. He doesn’t love it because it’s amazing; he loves it because he made me. And he feels the same way whenever you create too.