Often, as we begin a new year, we are filled with fresh hope and excitement about what’s to come. We set goals to become better and do better. And while all of this is important, it’s also good to know that God loves us now and always, as we are, simply because we are His children.
I was reminded of this when I recently visited a ward while I was traveling. As my group and I walked into the chapel, members were busy getting things ready for sacrament meeting—organizing hymnbooks, adding the hymn numbers to the hymn board—the usual Sunday preparations. In the corner, a sister was programming the hymn numbers in the digital piano so that it could play the music for sacrament meeting.
We were quickly greeted and welcomed as guests, and almost as quickly a sister asked, “Would any of you be willing to play the piano for sacrament meeting?” My friends looked my way—I was volunteered—and I made my way up to the stand.
I am always willing to help when a pianist is needed, but I don’t consider myself the best or even a great pianist. I get self-conscious when playing in front of people. It’s even so bad that sometimes I nearly get through a piece and think, “Wow, I haven’t messed up yet,” and then, of course, I mess up.
“God could have everything be perfect if He desired. But our growth and our development are more important to Him.”
Even so, I sat down at the piano, opened the hymnbook, turned off the automatic piano player, and began to play a soft prelude.
After playing the opening and sacrament hymns, I sat quietly with my thoughts. My insecurities about playing for a congregation I didn’t know tumbled through my mind. I thought of all the people who play better than I do and how I really should practice more. Then my thoughts spiraled even further.
These members had a perfectly playing digital piano in their chapel. Their piano would play the right notes and play it perfectly. Every time. Without fail.
Why did they ask me to play? Why did they even need me? I messed up when I played, had trouble playing the right tempo, and wasn’t even sure I had turned up the volume loud enough.
But they didn’t ask me if I played the piano perfectly. They asked only if I was willing to play. They wanted someone real, someone tangible. Someone physically present. Someone there.
As I sat through the rest of the meeting, I started to feel the Spirit teaching me. I realized that the invitation to come and be there—as we are—is what I believe God hopes from each of us as we come unto Him and to the Savior.
God could have everything be perfect if He desired. But our growth and our development are more important to Him. Our realness. Our physical presence. Our talents and our frailties. Even our missed notes. He sees our efforts, our hearts, and our desires, and He wants the very best we have to give.
As I played the closing hymn that day, I was reminded again of how it could have been played perfectly. And as I begin this new year, even though I would prefer to do everything perfectly, God simply asks me to be there and do my best. He wants me. As I am.
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