how to be.

It’s been really hard to blog lately for two reasons.

1. My life as a mostly work-from-home mom, while splendid and blest, can be quite mundane. As much as I love it, I don’t know how many posts I can muster up (or you should have to suffer through) about me banging away at my lap top during nap times or the perils of walking lessons. (Oh yes. By the by, I don’t want to admit it, but by definition I am now the mother of a toddler who has the bruises to prove it.)

2. I follow a lot of blogs and — sigh — I know how many other great blogs there are out there. So whenever I sit down to finally spew out a post, I can only think to myself, “But why? When there are so many other great blogs for these people to read?”

In short, it’s like I don’t know “how to be” a blogger.

The church I work at/serve at/do life at is one that, um, isn’t exactly in my comfort zone. It is a gigantic (!!!) traditional mainline Christian church, whose congregation consists MOSTLY of older, very wealthy “church” people. A natural button-pushing, liberal, messy-past-holding, twenty something loudmouth, I’ve never been quite welcomed at mainline denomination churches before now (ask me about the one time I, the “lost girl”, was “ambush-saved” under a tree by a well-meaning counselor at a church camp) and so it’s a bit of a struggle sometimes to reconcile the idea that I’m now on the payroll at one of these places that has wounded me so deeply in the past. And not only that; I have made friends here. Real friends. People who are getting to know me and aren’t running away. I’m finding my footing in an unfamiliar place that, remarkably, has accepted me. I still cannot understand this.

But that, my friends, is the power of grace, no?

I said it already, but it bears repeating. This place is freaking huge. People get around via golf carts and I can’t wait to make a billion dollars so I can also buy a golf cart. (That’s how much golf carts go for these days, right?) There are hallways and offices and narthexes and sacristies and choir rooms and class rooms and chapels and sanctuaries and gyms and lions and tigers and bears oh my and

six pianos. 

While I can’t afford ONE acoustic piano, there are six pianos scattered about the campus. (One of which used to belong to Sir Elton John but that’s another blog post.)

Today I sat in on a meeting which left me feeling both unproductive and severely misunderstood — the latter of which is not uncommon right now because I’m still getting used to this place. After the meeting, I had precisely twenty minutes before my next meeting which, as you working folk know, is just enough time to not do anything productive or meaningful.

One of the better-than-me bloggers I follow (who, I guess at this point, isn’t really a blogger anymore) is Jon Acuff. The other day he posted a picture on Instagram of a diagram made by an illustrator of how to be an artist.

photo

Looking at the clock and seeing the empty minutes before me, I recalled this picture and felt a sense of urgency to create. To make some sort of art, even if it was bad art, just to remind myself that, while I may be a misunderstood screw-up in a seemingly perfect congregation, I’m not totally worthless.

So I excitedly gathered my things and dashed to the chapel where I knew there sat an unoccupied, recently tuned grand piano.

As I was racing toward the steepled building, not wanting to waste a single minute, I got so giddy thinking about sitting in that empty space, at the bench, pressing down on the keys, softly squeezing the pedal, and birthing beautiful noise out of staunch silence. After feeling like I couldn’t control anything, I wanted to remember that, if nothing else, I can at least manipulate a piano.

I pulled the heavy double doors open with a superhuman exuberance expecting to find an empty chapel just for me. But when my eyes fell on the church organist at the organ, directly across from the piano practicing, my heart sank.

Our organist is a musical genius. He’s been playing organ/piano longer than I’ve been alive so he can obviously play circles around me. But he’s also probably the nicest person I’ve ever met in my lifetime. He’s someone that, when I’m around him, I suddenly don’t feel so misunderstood.

He always compliments my piano playing also, even when I know he both a) doesn’t have to and b) is probably just trying to make me feel good. (I told you he is really nice.)

He was sight-reading a couple hymns for our staff chapel. And for a few moments I sat and just listened. But then that stupid diagram got the best of me and I jumped off my butt and ran up to the piano.

“Which hymns are you playing?” I asked him, picking up a nearby hymnal.

He responded with a couple of numbers and then quickly added, “I’ve never seen these hymns before in my life!” (Mind you, this was not in a “look how great I sight-read!” way, but in an astonished “how have I played organ for all these years and never once laid eyes on these two hymns?!” way.)

I opened up the hymnal to the numbers he specified and sat down on the bench. I certainly hadn’t heard them, either, but my fingers were itching. I looked at the staffs and, while I can’t sight-read to save my life, I could at least tell which keys the songs were in based on the sharps and flats next to the clefs.

“Do you mind if I play along with you?” I nervously asked.

“Not at all! Please do!”

And so I did.

And it wasn’t horrible. (Though I think that has way more to do with the power and beauty of the instrument in question than it does my own skill level; a tuned piano is much more forgiving to any musician than, say, a violin.)

Over the past few weeks I’ve been caught up in my own head about “how to be” things — how to be a blogger; how to be a mother; how to be both an employee and a parishioner at a mainline denomination church; how to be a wife; how to be a cook; how to be a pianist; how to be Lindsay — so much so that I end up not BEING anything except lethargic, cynical, and unmotivated.

But that diagram ruins it all for me. It takes this paradigm that suggests I have to meet some unwritten standard before I’ve made it and crushes it into a thousand little pieces, never to be put back together again.

How do I be a blogger? I blog.

How do I be a wife? I cherish my husband.

How do I be a mother? I care for my child.

How do I be a pianist? I play the damn piano.

How do I be Lindsay?

I be Lindsay.

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7 thoughts on “how to be.

  1. A little sweet old guy plays the big organ at my church too. He’s amazing. Maybe it’s something about the kindred spirit keyboardists have that makes these guys so sweet to us “piano people.” He’s very skilled. Playing the organ may be a dying art; I sure hope not.
    As for fitting in to the big new church, we are all Christians and we need to be loving and accepting of each other no matter where in our walk we are, and no matter how big or small our church is. We are also individuals designed by God himself, so you are wonderfully made to be exactly YOU, not some cookie cutter person. God loves you and wants to make you the best Lindsay you can be; you’re a work in progress, and totally individual. These people who are accepting of you understand this. They are on their own individual journeys also. Enjoy that church with all the wonderful pianos! 🙂
    And most of all, enjoy that TODDLER! 🙂

  2. I don’t know what you are talking about with dissing yourself…you are obviously a great blogger! I hear you on not being able to blog as often. My son is in the cruising phase right now and put everything in his mouth phase.

  3. I’m happy that I helped your self esteem, but could you credit me for having created that image? Sadly it’s been spread all over the internet without my permission. Here is the original post on my tumblr:
    http://faisdm.tumblr.com/post/61434384914
    I’m not blaming you or anything, there’s no way you could have known! I’m just trying to find places where it’s been posted using image searching and getting them to source 🙂

    I drew it late one evening right before sleeping, frustrated by how so many people feel like they can’t draw because not everything they do is perfect. I run illustration and cartoon workshops with kids a lot, and they often feel like they can’t draw, or they say they want to be cartoonists but don’t put in the hard graft because they put pen to paper once and give up when it’s not pro quality! It’s a 5 minute scribble but I guess it just distils it and that’s why it’s been copied and pasted so much! You’ve understood the meaning perfectly. In the end, the best way to be a thing, is to do that thing and keep doing it! It may not always be perfect, people may not always like it, but you’re creating, and that’s great!

    • HEY KATE! I’m SO SORRY i didn’t give you credit. the only place i saw it was on jon acuff’s blog. so so so very sorry about that. i’ll put a link in my post right now! (p.s. THANK YOU for finding this and commenting so know!)

      • Nothing to worry about, by the time 9gag and the like had reposted it everywhere, my original post of it was pretty much impossible to find! Thanks for crediting me! 🙂

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