“Butterflies and Prayer,” Friend, Oct. 2003, 15
The ward Primary sacrament meeting program was next week. Mandy didn’t have a speaking part in the program this year. She was playing a piano solo instead. She had played prelude music for Primary before, but she had never played in front of the whole ward.
Mandy had been taking piano lessons since she’d turned eight last year. She loved her lessons. She especially liked learning to play the Primary songs. Right now, she played from a book of simplified arrangements. Someday, her teacher said, she’d play from the Children’s Songbook.
“I don’t know if I can play in the program,” Mandy said to her mother one night as they finished doing the dinner dishes. “I get all nervous just thinking about it.”
After Mother dried her hands on a dish towel, she said, “Did you know that Sister Hatch gets nervous, too?”
Sister Hatch was Mandy’s piano teacher, and she was also the Primary pianist. “Why would Sister Hatch be nervous? She plays great.”
“She still gets nervous. Just like you.”
At her next piano lesson, Mandy asked Sister Hatch, “Do you get nervous when you have to play in front of a whole bunch of people?”
Sister Hatch made a face. “All the time.”
“What do you do?” Mandy asked.
“First, I practice a lot. I try to do everything that I can to make sure I do a good job. Then I say a prayer.”
Mandy frowned. “What if you want to say a prayer right before you start to play?”
“I say the prayer in my head,” Sister Hatch said, “and in my heart. Heavenly Father knows what’s there even if I don’t say the words out loud.”
Mandy thought about that. “What if I make a mistake anyway?”
Sister Hatch grinned. “I make at least a couple of mistakes every Sunday when I’m playing for Primary.”
Mandy stared at her teacher in surprise. “You do? I’ve never noticed.”
“And no one will notice if you make a mistake. The important thing is to keep going. You know the song. Let your fingers do what they’ve been practicing.” Sister Hatch put her arm around Mandy’s shoulder. “I’ll be sitting right next to you during the program. If you start feeling afraid, reach over and squeeze my hand. And I’ll do the same if I feel scared.”
The morning of the program, Mandy felt sick to her stomach. She walked into her sister’s room. Sara was putting on her makeup.
“My stomach feels funny,” Mandy said.
“It’s just butterflies,” Sara said.
“It doesn’t feel like butterflies,” Mandy said. “It feels more like big, scary bats!”
“Don’t worry,” Sara said. “You’ll do fine.”
Mandy went to the piano and practiced her song. She had played it so much that she had memorized it. Still, she planned to take her book with her.
At church, Mandy sat with the other Primary children in the first three rows of the chapel. When the children went up to the stand following the sacrament, Mandy took her place beside Sister Hatch. Julie, who was also playing a solo, sat on the other side. As the Primary president introduced the Primary theme for the year, Mandy started to reach for Sister Hatch’s hand. Then she noticed that her teacher was reaching for hers at the same time. They looked at each other and smiled.
They squeezed hands, then Sister Hatch stood to go to the piano. The Primary children sang the first verse of “Follow the Prophet.”
As the time grew nearer for her to play her song, Mandy’s stomach started to feel funny again. Then she remembered what Sister Hatch had said about saying a prayer in her head and heart.
When it was Mandy’s turn to play, she placed her book on the piano, even though she didn’t need it. Her fingers did what they were supposed to do. When she played the last note, she let out a long breath and returned to her seat.
Sister Hatch gave Mandy a quick hug. “You did great,” she whispered.
Mandy felt great. The butterflies in her stomach had been replaced with a prayer in her heart.
“Whatever our calling, regardless of our fears or anxieties, let us pray and then go and do.”
President Thomas S. Monson, First Counselor in the First Presidency, “They Pray and They Go,” Ensign, May 2002, 49.