Patching Cracks


January 19, 2022

Our oldest has been playing trumpet for several years in the school band. My wife loved marching band as a student and has taken the opportunity to give him lessons. It has the benefit of helping him play better, and it gives her a chance to do something she loves. Watching the pair over the last few years, it is obvious that they love playing together… most of the time. Sometimes, their music lessons lack harmony. There are times when one or the other is cranky or some particularly difficult to learn song or technique comes up. In those instances, they tend to butt heads. The arguing isn’t too over the top, but it’s not fun for anyone. This morning, I asked him about their lessons and if her pushing him hard was fun. He replied with an adamant “No.” Then I asked if he was a better player because she pushed him. He answered with a louder “Yes.” The conversation took place in the context of a discussion in Sunday school about a passage in 2 Corinthians where Paul comments on a stern letter he sent the church previously:

“Even if I caused you sorrow by my letter, I do not regret it. Though I did regret it—I see that my letter hurt you, but only for a little while— yet now I am happy, not because you were made sorry, but because your sorrow led you to repentance.

The truth Paul is relaying, that relates to trumpet lessons as well, is that when teachers and trainers push you hard, it produces better results. My wife never lets our oldest take the lazy way out of playing wrong. She makes him try harder in practice, and it has produced better results. Paul’s point is that sometimes correction is painful, but it produces better results than simply ignoring bad behavior. I am regularly thankful that my parents and various mentors have willingly called me to the carpet over bad behavior or laziness. Those lessons weren’t fun, but they made me a better man.

The ancient Roman emperor/philosopher Marcus Aurelius wrote: “Life is more like wrestling than dancing.” The truth is that there are moments when our difficulty eases, and we seem to sail through the motions of life like it’s a dance. Mostly, we have to work hard. Still, in the hard work, we learn perseverance, patience, wisdom, empathy, and the skills necessary to live well. I want to tell my oldest that playing trumpet is hard. If it was easy, everyone would do it. But, the hard part is not in the playing itself. The hard part is in practicing a little bit every day for years in order to become proficient. Doing the right thing in difficult circumstances isn’t easy. It looks easy, but it requires that we be shaped into the kind of people who act right even when we don’t want to. Reshaping our hearts and minds is hard, in the same way that chipping away stone to make a statue requires that we break pieces off of the original stone.

This raises the question “If it’s hard, why do it?” The answer is that making great music or becoming a good person or anything else that is hard to do makes us, the world around us, and the lives of those we come into contact with better. Beautiful music, righteous living, and really anything else that requires skill to accomplish requires hardship and hard work.


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