"But it's so hard, Mom!" Colin sniffled through his tears. He fought them, but the difficulty in producing the desired violin hand position won out in the end. He stopped, took a deep breath, and looked at me with discouragement on his face.
"You know, I had a teacher who made me cry, too," I said. "He would make me try and try and try until I thought I'd never succeed. I would come home after every lesson and cry to my mom. She listened and asked if I wanted to quit, or find a new teacher. But I told her he was so good and I wanted to stay with him. The tears didn't stop me from wanting to improve. And you know what?"
"I stayed with him and got better and better. Sometimes the things that are most worth getting take the most work and the most tears."
I said the words, gave him a hug, and helped him finish practicing. I sat on the couch as Colin packed up and then skipped upstairs to his room, presumably to his enormous collection of legos, and I kissed the little head of my 3-month-old resting just below my chin. I thought about what I had just told my oldest and wondered if I really believed it myself.
Colin's teacher tells him, "Practice doesn't make perfect, practice makes permanent."
Colin could practice for hours a day, but if he was practicing the wrong way, the habits he formed would not allow him to fulfill his potential. The same goes for me. What habits have I formed, through daily practice, that bring me closer to my God? Habits are less energy-consuming than things we must think about to achieve. Are my practices bringing me toward holiness? Or are the things I am doing from day to day actually making permanent those things that take me farther from Christ-likeness?
I, myself, give in to tears as I think of how hard a life of godliness can be. I struggle at times with the mundane, the dailiness, the wearying drudgeries of life. But that's when I most need to listen to my own words to my son. That's when I need to remember that every action I make is moving me toward some type of permanence. That's when I must keep in mind that the things of worth often require a payment of tears.
I remember the rewards of pleasing my teacher- the same one that made me cry- by creating beautiful music with my violin. How much more will I bring glory to the Eternal Teacher by practicing, making permanent, a life of godly love and service.
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