Like an old Sabbath

A few weeks back, I was invited to do special music for the church I’ve been attending since I arrived in Houston. Given that I really had not other performance opportunities in sight, I accepted.

I haven’t played much, and I have honestly felt the void. On Monday, I had an excellent practice session. It was productive and fun—one of those you don’t get all the time. Then on Wednesday, while preparing the piece for Sabbath, I hated my guts because my altissimo register just plain sucked (that’s what practicing is more like on a daily basis).

So even though I generally don’t play music outside of the classical genre, I looked forward to performing once more, to feeling those nerves and the adrenaline, to enjoy being shaken by the beauty of music.

My faith has been faltering; my spirit has struggled with finding purpose, my self-esteem with the ever-challenging demands and expectations of a PhD program. But today, playing for the worship service at the West Houston Seventh-day Adventist Church, I felt fulfilled. Making music, participating in worship, if only for a moment, I was home.

The Sabbath closes and I thank God for a much-needed reminder of who He is even as I am overwhelmed with, not doubt, but questions. And I am grateful for another chance to make and share music. I needed it.

I worry

I worry a lot and I worry often. It’s like the exercise I’m supposed to do but put aside because, well, I need time to worry about life—always so general, always so specific. Worrying takes up most of my time, a full-time job with not benefits. And because there is always more time to worry, I’m worried about how much I worry.

Worrying is easy, at the beginning at least, before it’s all-consuming. It then becomes necessary. The natural response to uncertainty creates anxiety and finds its way into your regular life, and it disrupts it. When you realized you haven’t eaten a proper meal, with some greens, because it just didn’t seem that important, you worry. Or you worry about still not caring about your diet.

Taking a break seems like a healthy thing to do, right? Except, if you take a break you don’t make progress on those things you’ve been anxious about. So, you go back to worrying.

Netflix, The New York Times, and a Schubert piano sonata are all wonderful ways to relieve your worrying self. But you finish the new season of Narcos, read your healthy dose of David Brooks and Frank Bruni, and listen to the piano come to rest on a G major chord, and you’re back to worrying—if you were lucky enough to forget about it in the first place.

Im okay, I tell myself, and I believe it. I may worry a lot, but it’s just that: worry. I know it’s unhealthy, but it’s the one coping mechanism I have at my disposal. I don’t want it, in case you’re wondering.

When will I stop worrying? I might have to worry about that later.

#013 – After Graduation with Slade Lane

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podcastimageAfter a while, a new episode of the podcast is here.This time, Slade is back to talk about life after graduation. We both recently joined the ranks of the unemployed and this change has resulted in many a fearful look at the future. We hereby present our musings on these matters.

Those plans are not yours

If we have talked recently, you know things have not turned out as I expected, or at least hoped. Even then, I felt confident I was heading in the right direction and it was only a matter of time for things to come together. Little by little, as the reality of the situation settles, that confidence wanes. Those plans I was so sure about, even when interrupted as they are now, now seem a bit unclear.

Were my plans ever clear then? No, they really weren’t. I just knew the general direction. But the problem doesn’t lie there—I can deal, even thrive, with some uncertainty.

The thing is that those plans were not mine. I liked and internalized them, but they still didn’t belong to me.

It was at a moment when my devotional life, although not great, it was stronger than at many other points in my life. God helped me to constantly remind myself of who was in control and what I was really after (or wanted to be after)—Him. Surrendering my fears and dreams, I began to experience His promise from Jeremiah 29:11.

As my connection with Him grew stronger, so did my confidence in His plans, regardless of things not heading in such a hopeful direction. I knew my way, because it was His revealed way.

Just recently, I can’t even point out when, I seemed to have forgotten about God, being preoccupied with graduating, figuring out a way to afford grad school, staying in Lincoln, moving out of the dorm, finding work—becoming an adult.

I don’t even know what happened. Without realizing it, I soon found myself lost again. My plans didn’t work. Without Him, they meant nothing and directed me nowhere. They only mattered because they were His. He had shown them to me and I took them away trying to make them mine. I took them away from He who had designed them, and without Him I couldn’t understand them.


Perhaps this is a bit unrelated, but I want to show you what brought about this epiphany.

I just finished reading C. S. Lewis’ “Mere Christianity” where he writes:

The terrible thing, the almost impossible thing, is to hand over your whole self—all your wishes and precautions—to Christ. But it is far easier than what we are all trying to do instead.

For what we are trying to do is to remain what we call ‘ourselves’, to keep personal happiness as our great aim in life, and yet at the same time be ‘good’. We are all trying to let our mind and heart go their own way—centred on money or pleasure or ambition—and hoping, in spite of this, to behave honestly and chastely and humbly. And that is exactly what Christ warned us you could not do.