(This week is the 33rdinstallment of the book, “The Band Director’s Lessons About Life”, which TCRN is publishing as a series during 2020. This week, band director and spiritual author Donald Lee relates a parable about filling every moment of your life with love. For a complete listing of previous episodes in this series, click here.)
In love there is no room for fear, but perfect love drives out fear.1 John 4:18
“I can’t do it! I’m too nervous!” Sandra shivered.
It was playing-test day and, one by one, the grade-seven band students were performing their little musical passages. We had come to the trombone section, and it was Sandra’s turn. Of course she was nervous. Everyone is. Nervousness, or performance anxiety (as professionals we always use multiword terminology when a single word will do) is something all performers have to deal with. And we’re all performers.
“I have a cure for performance anxiety that may surprise you,” I said.
“I don’t want a cure. I just don’t want to do it,” Sandra objected.
“Sandra, I suspect you’re worried the other students will laugh at you or think badly of you if you make a mistake.”
“Yeah,” Sandra agreed wholeheartedly.
“Does anyone else feel this way?” Every hand went up.
“You see, Sandra, everyone feels exactly the same way. Your friends are here to support and encourage you—to applaud your performance, just like you applauded theirs. Everyone is with you. You can do it!”
“No, I can’t. I’m going to screw up. I just know it.” Sandra was nervous and pessimistic. She was a fine young player but incapacitated by fear. Fear is often about imagining the worst, rather than the best.
“You may have trouble understanding this, but we get nervous because we are thinking about ourselves. ‘What if I screw up? What will people think of me? I’ll be embarrassed.’ Nervousness is partly selfishness and partly fear.”
“I’m okay with that,” Sandra said obstinately.
I was trying to get her to rise a bit above her twelve-year-old level of consciousness.
“Work with me, Sandra. This is really good stuff. If you turn your attention from yourself to others and think thoughts of love, you cannot help but love others. It’s really our nature to love. Since other people are basically like us, when we focus our attention on others, we will naturally love them, forget about ourselves, and forget to be nervous. The cure is love. Think about giving your music, and your love, to the people who listen. Love doesn’t care if you play a B-natural instead of a B-flat. Just love your audience and don’t think about the rest.”
“I don’t love these guys. They’re all dweebs,” Sandra exaggerated with typical teenage drama.
“In a sense, we’re all dweebs, Sandra. Try to think about us from God’s perspective. He must be laughing at us most of the time, but he loves us anyway. And Love overcomes fear. You can generate Love within yourself because the Spirit of God dwells within you and, in a sense, it’s God’s Love that comes out. Ask God to let his Love flow through you into the world. God will help you. He is merely waiting for you to ask.”
“God can’t help me. I’m hopeless,” interjected Sandra, clinging obstinately to her negative attitude.
“God helps everyone, even though you may not perceive it. You will still make mistakes, but that doesn’t matter. Just do your best and love your audience. Then you’ll be the best you can be right now. And that’s perfect. You know how to play this music. Let your subconsciousness mind take over. Put all your thoughts on love. See the music as the medium that carries your love to the audience. The music will be fine, and your nervousness will fade away.”
Of course, this homily had little effect on Sandra, but she played well anyway.
Love and fear are polar opposites on our emotional spectrum. As St. John said, they cannot exist together. If our thoughts are fearful, we cannot experience Love. If we focus on total Love, we cannot be fearful.
In every moment of our lives (or at least as often as possible), we want to focus our thoughts, our words, and our actions on Love. We can imagine the effervescent Love of God bubbling up within us and gently engulfing everything around us. Experiencing complete Love is the best way we humans experience oneness with God, who is Love. If we think loving thoughts, speak loving words, and do loving acts, our total being will exist in that state of consciousness that is Love—the kingdom of God, or heaven.
Donald Lee is a spiritual author and speaker. This article is part of a weekly series for 2020 in which TCRN is publishing his inspirational book, The Band Director’s Lessons About Life: Volume 1 – 50 Parables on Life’s Performance Cycle, in serial form – one parable per week. You can learn more about the author at his website: www.ComingHomeSpirit.com, or order a copy of his complete book on Amazon, or get his free mini eBook and sign up for his weekly blog. Follow Donald on Facebook