Monday, October 13, 2014

Day 13: Fear of Making Mistakes--How Band Made Me Brave

"For everyone has sinned;
we all fall short of God’s glorious standard."
Romans 3:23
DAY 13:  Fear of Making Mistakes

It's exhausting being a perfectionist.  I have a very high standard for myself. I don't like to make mistakes.  I fear it greatly.
There's nothing like a junior high solo and ensemble contest to bring out this fear.
I played the oboe.  Why?  I don't know.  Well, yes, I do.  I chose it because I knew that not many others would choose to play this instrument which would eliminate all the stress that goes into competing for first chair (notice my fear of conflict and of failure coming through here). 

In 7th grade, I dreaded the solo and ensemble competitions!!!  I couldn't stand learning a piece of music to play in front of a line of scary judges with warts on their noses who were only meant to tell me what I did wrong...whose sole purpose was to point out all of my mistakes.  Dread!
I strongly desired to play the piece of music perfectly, therefore, I greatly feared that I would make a mistake.  It was paralyzing.  So, what did I do?
I refused to go in the competition room when it was my turn to play in front of the judges.  Making a huge scene, I cried and I cried.  So embarrassing!  I was in a panic...a state of hysterics.  That really goes off well in front of a bunch of junior high kids. 
My mom and dad and my band director, Mr. Isenogle (better known as Mr. I who was the most amazing band director ever--may He rest in peace), weren't quite sure what to do.  They tried to talk to me.  They tried to reason with me.  They tried to encourage me and tell me that it would all be ok.
I thought:  "Yeah, right.  Then you go in there and be judged!"
I missed my competition time slot and I thought:  "Great!  Now, I won't have to do it."  But somehow, they were able to get me into another time slot later.  NOOOOOO!
I fretted and stewed.  I cried and I panicked for 4 hours!  Crazy, I know.
Then, Mr. I said some very wise words to me.  He said, "What's the worst that could happen?"
Well, let me tell you Mr. I!  To a someone with a fear of making a 13 year old...the worst thing that could happen is that I make a mistake...that I don't play the piece perfectly...that I don't get a perfect score...that I feel badly about my performance.  All these things were racing through my young  mind.
Then he said, "Yeah, so what?  What if you make a mistake?  Will you die?  Will that be the end of the world?" 
To me, YES!
Despite my fears though, something clicked with what he said.  I had it all built up in my mind that making a mistake was worse than my own death or worse than the end of the world.  Silly.
I took a deep breath and walked into the competition room where three judges sat staring at me.  My heart was pounding.  My throat was achy.  I almost turned around and ran out in a panic again, but I didn't.  I kept walking in with my oboe clutched tightly in my hand.  I turned and looked at the judges, and to my surprise, they weren't scary monsters with warts on their noses like I had pictured.  In fact, they had warm smiles on their faces the whole time. 
Did I play the piece perfectly?  No.  Did I make a mistake?  Yes, but just a little one, but I kept playing and doing the best I could. 
In fact, I ended up getting a "1" which was the highest score I could get.  I didn't die.  The world didn't end.  I did it. 
That day, I learned to let go of my fears of making mistakes.  I became more brave and confident.  I learned to ask myself:  "What's the worst that could happen?"  And somehow, even now, when I struggle with that fear, thinking of Mr. I's words brings me peace.  
Thank you, Mr. I.
Do I still struggle with perfectionism?  Yes.  Do I still struggle with the fear of making mistakes?  Yes.  But I have grown so much in this area, and God is working on me every day to show me that I am not perfect, and that's ok.  I'm going to make mistakes and that's ok.  His love is always there.  His grace is always there. 
The bible says in Romans 3:24:  "Yet God freely and graciously declares that we are righteous. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins."

Are you ready to let go of your fear of making mistakes?  Are you ready to be free from the pressure you put on yourself to be perfect?  I am!

Father, I give my fear of making mistakes to You today.  You are the only One who is perfect.  Even though I'm not perfect...even though I make mistakes, You declare me righteous through the sacrifice that Christ made for me.  Help me to find freedom from my perfectionist ways that prevent me from doing what You have called me to do.  Take away my fears of making mistakes that paralyze me from being all that You've made me to be.  Lord, shine Your light into my fears of making mistakes and fill me with faith so I can walk confidently forward knowing that I am precious, not perfect, in Your sight!  Allow me to make beautiful music in my life through You!  In Jesus' name.  Amen.

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