Did you grow up hearing that line, "practice makes perfect"? I know I did. Now, I'm not saying I disagree with the statement, but I think it's given me a false idea about what practice produces in my life.
We started a series at church this last week on Spiritual Practices- normal, everyday stuff that we can all do in order to train ourselves to be like Jesus. The love and grace of God given to us through Jesus is truly the hope of the world, and we are all vessels of this hope. That's a pretty high demand on people like us (like me) that stumble through many of our days. Even on my best day, it frightens me just a little that I am the hands, feet, and mouthpiece of Jesus to a world in need.
What does this have to do with practice? Well, I know that I got to a point in my life where I assumed that practice would make perfect. Whether it was practicing the piano, my free throws in basketball, or reciting a poem in English class, I began to expect perfection. This is a great goal, but what about all the times when I would finish a time of practice and still not be perfect? To be honest, I felt like my efforts were wasted. I hadn't really accomplished anything because I was still flawed. In many ways, this made the idea of more practice discouraging- why put in all the effort only to still be prone to mistake and error?
I think we feel the same way about spirituality. Why put in all this "work" (at least we think of it as work) when we instinctively believe that at the end of the day we will still be far from perfect? This is where I find it important to quit trying to be like Jesus- I truly can't try hard enough. But I can train, and practice, even if it means I'm still flawed. Because what I'm learning is that practice makes BETTER. Practice moves me in the right direction. I had a coach who always said that everyday you either get better or worse. He was speaking about football, but I think this idea is true in life as well. I am either moving towards my wife and family in love, or I am gradually moving away. I am stepping closer to God's love and grace in my life, or I walk away, even if it is a slow retreat.
But with this idea in mind- practice makes better- I am free to practice and still fail. I can practice and train, and have grace for myself when I'm not perfect. To fail doesn't mean my practice was wasted- only that my practice is still in the process of transforming my life and my character.
I want to be a transformed person. I hope you do to. The process may feel long and plodding, but I get a sense that God's in less of a hurry than we are. And maybe that's okay.
Now that I am free from "practice makes perfect", where are those piano books?
Journey in freedom-