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Saturday, November 13, 2004


Okay, so it's been a while.

Last Sunday I had an epiphany of sorts. Well, I guess you could say I was "convicted." Choir was singing at a church in Boston, and the man who gave the sermon that morning was talking about how we should treat others, and about seeing others as God sees them. He told a story of a man who had only a few minutes to deliver a whole sermon, and he condensed it like this: "Others. Others. Others."

Anyway... some background information. As of this past Sunday, I had reached such a point of annoyance with certain people that things just couldn't go on. I had been standing through choir rehearsals just burning with irritation and dislike for certain people whose attitudes come across as being so incredibly egotistical... and it had all just gotten so bad that I couldn't take it anymore. That Sunday, a person who is somewhat intense, likes to take control and tell people what to do, and doesn't have what I'd call great leadership skills (because true leadership is done with humility, not condescension or bossiness) was hissing orders to the choir as we were filing downstairs after singing in the service. She was right behind me, hissing in the most irritating way, and without thinking at all, I did something I never do... I snapped, "SHUT UP." Now, as it turns out, this person didn't even hear me in all the chaos. But still... it was the moment when I realized how full I was of all these things that weren't Jesus. How I am so far from seeing others as God sees them. I remembered reading a post from my brother in law's blog about how it's when we're stressed or annoyed or "shaken up" by life that we know what's really inside us, based on what comes out in those times - is it Jesus, or is it our own sinful nature?

Anyway, that day, I realized how horrible I was being... I would make fun of voice majors just because a few of them had egos and attitudes. Just because a few of them need a serious dose of chill pills, I developed a reactionary "instrumentalist complex" of disliking most of the upperclassmen voice majors as a whole. And let's be honest... most of the instrumentalists do feel that lots of the vocalists come across as a snotty group of people. But I talked to Jaana about it a lot that evening, as we were driving from our afternoon orchestra concert here at Gordon to our evening choir concert in NH (it was a crazy day, let me tell you)... and we talked about all the nice, down-to-earth, humble voice majors we know. So what it comes down to is attitude... and the attitudes of many voice majors come across really badly to other people in the department. Especially when there's a giant disconnect between a person's attitude and their actual ability. But this isn't the point. No matter how condescending or egotistical someone is, it's not right for me to be annoyed with them, talk about them, or make fun of all the voice majors when I'm hanging out with other instrumentalists. I'd like to see the music department here full of supportive people... I should want the voice majors to succeed and I should be encouraging them with the same genuine spirit with which I encourage my fellow violinists in orchestra... because I genuinely love them and appreciate their talents and skills and efforts.

So anyway, it's been a week with a lot to think about. And I'm on a new regime -- it's the "don't make fun of people" regime. It's just not what anyone needs to hear, you know? Words are powerful... so let's use them to build people up. I know how much I'd love to hear encouraging words from my fellow music majors... and maybe they sometimes need to hear from me, too... you know, the sophomores had a terrific recital a few weeks ago. Beth, Krista, and Sarah sang so beautifully... I should tell them, instead of harboring a grudge against all voice majors or assuming they all have egos and attitude problems and being unwilling to compliment them.

I'm not going to say that it'll be easy to never again make fun of voice majors... they way they vocalize in the halls, the way some of the ones with the biggest egos crack all their high notes, the way some of them have vibratos you could drive a truck through, the way they don't practice as much as instrumentalists do, the way some of them make "mooing" sounds on each note, the way they all think they'll be at the Met someday... but maybe some of them will be. They're here to learn and to work, just like I am... and even if a few of them are snottier than I am, or even if they think they're great while I generally feel like a worm... it doesn't entitle me to be filled with horrid feelings of annoyance towards all voice majors as a whole. Or even towards any of them.

The thing is, God is amazing. He changes my heart, and all I have to do is ask. I realized that I can't just stop saying unkind things about voice majors or making fun of them... I have to change how I think of them in my heart.

So that's some of what's going on in my heart and mind lately.

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