Wednesday, March 23, 2011

The power of service

Today is the day we're heading over to the nursing home to plays some musics!  It brings to mind this happy helping song we sing with the kiddos at church, and WonderGirl was more than willing to demonstrate it for you (as you can see, she is experimenting with conducting, which is, as you can also see, hilarious).  We sing it while we tidy around the house.  The lyrics are super simple and catchy (plus the chords are an easy peasy I-ii-V-I pattern - I included it in D):

[D]When we're helping we're [Em]happy and we [A]sing as we [D]go,

for we like to help [Em]insert name, i.e. Mother, Sister, Brother, etc. for we [A]all love them [D]so.

Tra la la la la [Em]la la Tra la [A]la la la [D]la,

Tra la la la la [Em]la la Tra la [A]la la la [D]la

This brings us to a personal story I've been mulling about lately about the power of sharing your talents.  Back in college, I was going through a rough patch -I was nearing my senior recital, I had horrible stage fright and would shake every time I had to play a solo (my bow would actually bounce off the string).  My confidence level was shot, and I went to my bishop - the head of my church congregation - to get a possible referral for a therapist I could talk this all out with.  How was I supposed to graduate if I was too nervous to play??

He listened to me patiently, and then pulled a folder out of his file cabinet.  "I do have some names here," he said, "but I want you to try an experiment first.  For the next week, I want you to try to lose yourself in service.  Find some way you can share your gifts with others.  Then, come back to me, and we'll talk.  If you still feel like you'd like a referral, I'd be more than happy to give it to you."

I figured I'd give it a try.  What else did I have to lose?  I lived literally right next to an assisted living facility, so I went in and asked them if I could play my violin for them.  Nothing grand like a formal performance that would turn on the fear factor -  I could play some nice background music in the dining hall while they ate.  They were so excited they begged me to let them put me on their permanent calendar as a once-a-week musical guest during dinner.  I was reluctant, but agreed.  I'm kind of a push-over.

I showed up on time, stood in the farthest corner I could find and played all the hymns, Suzuki repertoire and fiddle tunes I had memorized.  I'm not going to lie - I was a little scared for a few minutes, but I started to calm down after a bit, because every few minutes someone would start yelling at me in approval and make a request.  It was too funny and distracting to be nervous.  By the time I was done, I was having a ball.  The residents were so kind, and I'd played a whole hour in front of other people without shaking.  As I headed home, I was walking on air.  The sky had never been so blue, and I had a permanent grin on my face.  I was on a service high.

I went back a few more times that week for good measure, and when I saw my bishop at church on Sunday, I told him I didn't need to meet with him or anyone else.  And thanked him profusely.  The rest of the year, I played at the home at least once a week, and each week my confidence and technique grew stronger.  I wasn't playing them my concertos and sonatas, but the time I put in playing their familiar songs for that hour or so translated into being able to play better and better the rest of the week.  My confidence levels shot up, and I felt uplifted and happy.  By the time my recital came around, I was able to play the very best I could, completely free of fear.

I learned a very valuable lesson that year and I am SO thankful for my bishop and his inspired advice.  I've learned that losing myself in service is one of the best ways to beat the blues.  My skills aren't the practical ones - like cooking, cleaning, remembering to bay bills, etc. - but I've been very blessed to have been given the chance to play music, and I am even more blessed when I share it.

So even if it's not so easy to coordinate schedules and keep the Dude from running around the nursing home licking every surface he can find, it's worth it to show get to show them how awesome service can be.


Anonymous said...

Very inspirational! I can see why my daughter (tuba.girl) sees you as a trusted role model!

Desiree said...

Great job. Service is amazing.. beats the blues any day. Plus, I see a symphony conductor in the making!

Jane said...

That's a lovely story. You should submit it to the Ensign.

Husband said...

That was beautiful. Well done dear.

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