Friday, January 13, 2006

to think or not to think Today, in my erhu lesson*, I had some trouble. I kept messing up with where my fingers should be, but if I got the fingering correct I would be on the wrong string. Why? Why was I just not getting it this week? Last week was great! This week? Oh, I wanted to throw the thing! I'll tell you why I had trouble this week. Every time I had trouble my mind was on something else. Sometimes I was just thinking about technique: "pull. push. pull. am i off? should I be pushing or puling now?" Sometimes I was thinking about the song: "oh, I like this song. it sounds really good on the erhu." Sometimes I was thinking about my own inadequacy, "my teacher makes it sound so pretty, when I play the same song it sounds so ugly." And, once it was on what I am writing about right now: "amanda, if you think about anything, if your mind is filled with thoughts, then you can't play right at all. stop it. now focus." There are very few times in my life where I have had to have the discipline to have a completely thought-free thinker. My thinker loves to think. It is hard to make it think of nothing--to just let my brain tell my hands what to do without thinking about it. But, habits are just this: things we do without thinking about them. And, while I want to stop thinking while I play my erhu, I want to start thinking about my habits--to decide which ones to keep and which ones to declutter from my life. And to decide which ones I want to add to make my life more simple and focused. * The erhu (pictured above) is a two-stringed traditional Chinese instrument. I have been learning to play it for about 8 months now.
what are you hoping for? I will never forget that day. She asked lots of questions, but the one that I had no answer for was "what are you hoping for?" Blank. What seemed like 5 minutes passed, and she said "don't try to give a perfect answer. Just say the first thing you think of--what are you hoping for?" That advice didn't help. My heart and mind were still blank on the matter. Then she challenged me to make a list of things that I thought were impossible but that I hoped would happen. I was to begin praying for the items on that list. You see, as long as my hope was in Amanda I could not make that list--perfectionsim and the desire to not fail kept me from hoping because my hope was in me. When I finally allowed myself to place my hope in God, it became much eaiser to hope because not only is He the Hope-giver, but with Him all things are possible. When I was able to hope I was able to experiece joy and peace as well. I had never before seen the connection of having hope to peace and joy. But, oh! How very connected they are!! Even Scripture puts them together, Paul says in Romans 15:13: "So I pray that God, who gives you hope, will keep you happy and full of peace as you believe in him. May you overflow with hope through the power of the Holy Spirit." Here are a few of the things I was finally able to add to my "Impossible with Amanda but Possible with God: A Hope List": For my brother to be become a Christian To see some of my students become a church To see that church start more chruches among other students To see the entire island become a nation of believers in Christ To have my family come see me in Taiwan For a man God has choosen to "find" me and want to be my husband To be a wife To be a mother To visit Korea To visit Thailand To pay off my school loans quickly To live debt free To bring glory to God I still keep a "Hope List" in the back of my journal because "for right now, until that completeness, we have three things to do to lead us toward that consummation: Trust steadily in God, hope unswervingly, love extravagantly" (1 Corthians 13:13). So, what are you hoping for?

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