Grace, Imperfection, and a Bouquet of Flowers

Why it’s okay to not be perfect and embrace mistakes.

Bouquet

Over the past several years, I’ve been grappling with the concept of grace. What is grace? Some say grace is a gift. Some say it’s a blessing or favor from God, an unmerited love that we are granted even though we haven’t done anything to “earn” it. Sounds great right? Sure! But what does grace actually look like in real life? I could go on and on reading books about it or listening to others talk about it, etc. however, to truly live in the presence of grace through everyday situations (or not so every day situations) really solidifies that this thing called grace might actually be real.

Here’s how I recently encountered it…

I’ve been taking piano lessons for the past year, however, I didn’t decide to get “serious” with it until about 6 months ago. So far, its been a fantastic experience, and the principal thing I’m learning is the importance of discipline. To discipline yourself to sit everyday and practice is crucial. I’ve learned to develop a routine and stick to it, just like brushing your teeth every morning and evening. To get to a point where if you happen to miss a practice session, you feel “off” and out of your element.. is a great thing. Discipline has been the key to progression. Having a teacher that holds me accountable every week also strengthens the discipline factor, because its easy for us all to justify and reason our way out of doing or not doing something. Having an authority figure to “answer” to keeps you honest and authentic.

A few nights ago, I participated in my first ever piano recital. When originally asked to do this, I was hesitant, and tried to reason my way out of not doing it. After encouragement, and self-reflection, I finally decided to not be fearful, and to go ahead and try it. My practice sessions now encompassed a new dimension. Not only was I practicing to progress, but now I actually had a tangible goal to achieve. So I worked relentlessly on a classical piece by my ancestor, Johann Sebastian Bach, and had it “almost to perfection” in my home and in my teacher’s room. I felt confident and ready. I invited all my friends and family to come to the recital. I wanted to “show” them all what I had been working on and for them to receive and experience the same joy that I had been experiencing over the past few months. Although, I was excited, I was also very nervous and anxious. There would be students of all ages and all levels together in one room. I couldn’t help to not compare my ability with those of others, and ask myself a million “what if?” questions.

Show time arrives and I step on the stage. The first thing I notice was “wow this light is really bright in my face.” Then I sit at the bench and think, “wow this piano feels totally different.” I take a deep breath and go. I start off fine, then halfway through, everything starts to sound different, my fingers are like what the heck is going on, and I realize that there are a bunch of people watching me. I totally freeze. Yup. Stage fright creeps in and it is NOT FUN. I have never in my life been a victim of stage fright. I have done plenty of speeches, presentations, have hosted, taught and led discussions and activities in front of large and small crowds, but this time I couldn’t talk my way out of things. I couldn’t take a pause into the next sentence. I couldn’t take a water sip break. So instead I just froze, kept starting over, announced to the crowd that I was “freaking out,” had to have my teacher come “save” me, then finally managed to finish the piece, then ran off the stage. Holy smokes. Thank goodness it was over!

Deep down I was completely mortified, but in a strange way I was so thankful for what had just happened. I was surrounded by my family, friends, and loved ones, who didn’t care about my lack of perfection, but completely loved and supported me throughout the entire process. When my mother first arrived, before the performances began, she came up to me and handed me a bouquet of flowers. I hadn’t even done anything yet, but I was given a bouquet of of beautiful, colorful, lovely flowers. The gift had been granted, and I hadn’t even done anything to deserve or earn it. It was truly a humbling experience.

Throughout the night, the more I went into despair, self-judging and internal embarrassment, the more I realized how egotistical and self-centered I am. Nobody cares that I wasn’t perfect. In fact, I was truly loved for being imperfect. Wow. What a concept. This must be the grace thing I keep hearing about in church on Sunday mornings. This must be the grace I keep reading about in books. I have a “vision board” in my room that has a bunch of pictures, snippets, and list of things I aspire to fulfill into fruition. I have a post-it note on my vision board that says “Find Grace.” I posted that note up a couple years ago. I think I may have just found it a couple nights ago..

——
by Kristin Bach
Copyright 2013

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3 thoughts on “Grace, Imperfection, and a Bouquet of Flowers

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