What a huge thing it was.. a classic upright with scrolls embedded in the grain. The sound.. well, even I knew that it was in need of a good tuning. It was like a clanging symbol. My first “real” piano. The keys were yellowed, not exactly ivory, and had a few that would “stick” quite often. Talk about limitations? Yeah, it had many. Sitting with me and smiling is my entire entourage.. my little brother, a clunker monster of a piano.. and my mother behind the camera. The piano has since been given away, My mother passed on, and after thirty some years have passed, I must say that he still remains my biggest fan…regardless of my limitations.
My parents soon found a family friend that was willing to give me some piano lessons. I was excited and determined. I can still see the lesson books with dozens of staffs and notes and cartoon graphic pictures that matched the lyrics to Row, Row, Row Your Boat, and Mary Had a Little Lamb. So I practiced learning the keys and decided it was not all that hard to peck out a song. I also decided on my own that “reading” the notes was not all that important. After all, I could play the tune. Limitations, ones that I had set for myself. Other limitations came that were not set by me. My teacher’s house was damaged in a massive flood, now I no longer had a place to continue lessons…but I still continued to peck and plunker.
I still played at home. I practiced and practiced some more. My family were awesome encouragers and also very tolerant. My granny would say “Play me a song, Neicy” or a family member would say, “If you play it, I’ll sing it” ..I would always say I can’t..but they would say.. “yes! yes! you can..just play!” It’s a wonder my family were not tone-deaf early on, but oh, how I have never forgotten their enthusiasm. I had so many limitations, but yet I played.
My granny bought my second piano. A brand new, never been used..Rudolph Wurlitzer. It was shiny, and in my mind, the sound was kin to something I am sure Liberace would have played! I listened as my granny explained to the finance clerk the amount she could afford to pay monthly and why it was so important that they approve her loan. Me. I am still so humbled when I think of the sacrifice she made in order for me to have this piano. I would continue to joyfully play for her throughout her remaining days. After all, it was no small sacrifice that she had made. Besides, she didn’t really care about my limitations.
Eventually I would find another family friend that was willing to give me some lessons. I could play some by ear, but there was so much more I needed to learn. I practiced and learned some new things. I watched and listened and knew that I wanted to play like my teacher. I could have sat for endless hours just enjoying his playing. I also became impatient and distracted being the teen that I was. After this season of lessons were over, I knew I had missed the opportunity to do more, to learn more, and appreciate a good teacher. I had once again focused on seeing my limitations. I still played, but not as often.
I had played for family members, some limited church playing, and even then, I felt limited. Never reaching that level of playing that I thought I should have. When asked to play for someone, my response would be reluctant since I felt someone else could do a better job. Still holding onto my limitations.
I realized after hearing a sermon about talents and gifts…using what you have, that I was continually coveting everyone else’s talent. Yes, Giving God what you have, regardless how limited, be determined not to give him my “left overs” but the best of what I had to offer..and let him do the rest. I am guilty of begging, pleading and whining about my limitations. I don’t like to be stretched. I am reminded in I Timothy 4:14-16 “Do not neglect your gift, which was given you. I am working on this.
Limitations? Yeah, I still have plenty… but I can no longer look at the picture of the little girl in the photo above and focus totally on limitations alone. I have had encouragers throughout the years.. I still do! Imperfect progress that continues on a daily basis. I am still musically driven, I am still a far cry from a good piano player no doubt… but I am learning to give what I have and be thankful for those in my life that continue to encourage me..limitations included.
What keeps you limited? God is your biggest fan…He doesn’t see your limitations..He just sees a willing vessel! Cherish those that encourage you and give it your best! Go ahead! Stir up the gift you have been given!