Not Just the Greats
Bringing a spiritual perspective to daily life
Most everything takes practice, whether it's learning to drive well, play a sport, or make good presentations.
If you like what you're doing, practicing is fun. But, if you don't, practicing can sure seem hard and boring.
When I was a kid, there was one thing I didn't mind practicing. It was the piano. I'd practice for hours and hours, day after day. Some of my friends practiced a lot, too. And when all of us got together, sometimes we were competitive. Who could learn a piece the fastest? Who could play it the best? Who could win a competition? There was a saying that went around: "Those who can perform, perform. Those who can't, teach." We felt we had to be performers.
My piano teacher always stressed to me one point: the persistence and discipline I expressed through practicing piano would help me in anything I chose to do. She said that someday I would see how practicing meant expressing all the different qualities you need to become accomplished, such as patience, attention to detail, creativity, diligence, and many more. At the time, that didn't mean too much. I wanted to be the best, not just express some far-off quality like persistence or discipline.
To some of us, my teacher's words were words of failure, because they basically said, "It doesn't matter if you perform." But I'm finally beginning to understand what she meant. Recently, I read an article in this newspaper that observed, "As a society, we tend to believe the only ones worthy of practicing art are the greats" (Jan. 7, "Theatergoers Relate to Tales of Piano Lessons"). The article made a similar point relative to what my teacher was getting at - that it's not just the great performers who are worthy of practicing and learning. That all of us are worthy, no matter how amateur or accomplished we are.
Why? One explanation is found in the teachings of Christian Science, which show that each one of us is God's child and already reflects Him perfectly, as His spiritual image and likeness. Each is capable of expressing God's good qualities in his or her own special way, as parents, employees, neighbors, etc. You and I, as children of God, have all the qualities needed to do what we do, and do it well. But yes, it takes persistence and discipline, often in the form of prayer, to see consistent evidence of this.
As we pray to know God, it will become clear that we don't have to be famous - a "great" - in order to lead productive lives; that everyone expresses good from God; that everyone does it individually. As His image, we are each valuable and needed. It doesn't matter how hard or easy it is for you to accomplish something; you're finding out what's true.
And praying daily to know how we relate to God can help you do better in both big and little things. You reflect Him eternally, and this can be seen in your expression of qualities such as thoroughness, exactness, thoughtfulness, and many more. They all combine in your individual expression of God in art, work, life.
Christ Jesus' teaching is the basis for Christian Science. He taught his disciples to pray (see Matt. 6:9-13). To prove, through healing, that they understood what he had said. In other words, their persistence and discipline toward gaining spirituality were cultivated. Mary Baker Eddy explains in "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures": "In Latin the word rendered disciple signifies student; and the word indicates that the power of healing was not a supernatural gift to those learners, but the result of their cultivated spiritual understanding of the divine Science, which their Master demonstrated by healing the sick and sinning" (Pg. 271). Those who study Christian Science are modern-day disciples of Jesus - and are learning to be modern-day healers.
We all have talents to cultivate, no matter who we are. Even most of the great composers had to go to their music each day and studiously work. They couldn't always wait for inspiration. But through expressing persistence and discipline, they were reflecting God - and they became inspired. That's what you can do, too. You can learn that all the qualities needed to make something easier for you are from God. That as His child, it's so natural for you to discern and express them. That when you turn to God for help, progress is inevitable.