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Live the Relational Life

April 19, 2014

I wrote this yesterday afternoon waiting for my flight to Florida.

Walking to my gate at BWI, I saw a family that must have been returning from a vacation in Florida or somewhere tropical.  There were several small children, one of whom was wearing a pair of goggles. It doesn’t get any better than that.  As mom was leading the children through the terminal, I saw she was toting a suitcase with a small violin on top.  A tiny violin actually.  Probably a sixteenth size. A few months back I started a student who was using that size violin … she took from me for a little while, until her parents decided they were going to wait a little longer to put her back on it.  After teaching violin privately for over a year now, I’ve decided that I’m not the best fit to start teaching students younger than second grade.  It’s best for everyone involved in the process.

Seeing the violin this afternoon, brought back some bad memories though.  I never really wanted to learn how to play the violin.  I asked my mom before first grade if I could learn the piano.  Nope.  Had to be the violin.  It fit in the house way easier than a piano.  Wait.  Didn’t they have keyboards in 1995?  Oh well. Too late to go back.

We toted my violin on some of our family trips; camping, beach houses, weekend getaways, college tours, holidays, all of it.  I didn’t like practicing when I was at home, so you can imagine the torture that occurred having to practice on vacation.  It was unpleasant for everyone.

I somehow continued to play through college; probably because I felt I owed it to my parents.  I didn’t see myself playing after college but I continued committing to gigs and groups that kept me playing, paid and unpaid.  I can’t pinpoint a specific moment when I realized that I was playing out of enjoyment.  Maybe the transition happened over a period of time, and I’ve grown to love playing my instruments.

Transitioning into love for my viola and violin, I realized that for a long time it was an object of such loathing because I saw it as a way to earn my mother’s love.  When that didn’t work, I started to hate playing.  It was hard, and I didn’t want to put in the hours to get better.  My mother still forced me to practice, and even as I did improve and play in decent orchestras, it was still never enough to make her love me for who I am.

I’ve since learned that I don’t need to master a skill to ‘make my mother love me’, but I felt that way for a long time … and still feel that she will never truly love me for who I am … but that’s another blog.

I’ve found a freedom in living for Jesus that I never thought was possible on this side of life.  I’m thankful that Jesus has given me the skills to play my instrument both for myself and for others.  I’m definitely not going to be playing with the National Symphony anytime soon, but I enjoy playing semi-professionally and am glad that I was able to grow to love playing.

After seeing the mom with the small violin in the airport, I have surmised that you can’t make someone love something or someone else.  I think our world struggles with this.  When we love something, we automatically think everyone loves that too, or that they should, and if they don’t, they can be convinced of it.  And that it is our job to convince them of it.  Everything is about how you sell it, right?  If my mom had sold me on loving the violin, I would have loved it, right?  Heck no.

Love is about relationship.  I love the things and people that I love because of relationships, not because someone sold me on something  … Unfortunately for a long time I thought love could be bought.  It can’t.  Love comes from relationship. Relationships are work though, and are earned.  Which I think can be mistaken for purchasing.  Buying something and earning it are two very different things. If people’s hearts could be bought …

My heart breaks reflecting on the time I have wasted trying to buy or make someone love me.  If someone doesn’t give their love away freely, I try not to waste time buying it or thinking they will love me more if I do something for them.  Instead I try to relate to them and get on their level; hoping that one day they will see that love is about relationships.  And relationships are about relating.  Love isn’t about gain; relationships shouldn’t be either. Love is about giving away and expecting nothing in return.

While I still believe it’s true that you have to earn the right to be heard, about the things that you love (this is a young-life-ism that will be with me for a long time), I think over time, relationships are what make an impact in people’s lives; not what someone does, how hard they practice or don’t practice, or what they wear. / It’s about how they love you, regardless of those things.

Live the nun life: Love those around you.  Have meaningful relationships that you pour your heart into.  Know that others’ hearts are breaking just as much as yours is.

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