By Lu Xin
In my free time, I always liked to watch the grand concerts or the singing contests on television. Especially when I saw the actors and stars finished their performance on the stage, they got the audience’s flowers, applause, and admiring glances, which really made me endlessly envious. I dreamed: How great it would be if I could master a music instrument sometime and be admired by people like them. Later on, I spoke out my thoughts and, after having my dad’s permission, I set forward on the journey of learning the guitar.
When I first arrived at the guitar training class, what I saw was various music instruments hanging on the wall; what I heard was the word of the teacher teaching students and the sound of students practicing the music instruments. There was no noise. Instantly, a strange flavor made me become nervous. Seeing their postures of holding the guitar and hearing the melody they made, I thought: They have reached highly-trained standard. My skill is far below theirs. So, I carefully held my guitar, and went to sit in a corner. I plucked the strings lightly according to the melody the teacher had taught me, and tried to avoid making a noise and being laughed at by others. Because of being nervous, my palms were all sweaty.
I raised my head to look around, finding that some students of my age could play a smooth melody which sounded like the running water. I couldn’t help shooting an envious glance to them. They seemed to feel something so that they looked backward and cast a glance at me. In an instant, I felt an unpleasant heat crept up my face. I thought unconvincingly: I won’t be worse than you. I believe as long as I work hard, I must surpass you in some days. However, the fact was not as simple as I had imagined. I had the same guitar and the same music score as others but the sound emitting from my guitar was just some irregular music note or some harsh noise. I was extremely disappointed in my heart. During the break, seeing those students who were having a rest, I thought: I must take the time to practice. No matter how much I suffer, I will practice it well. Then I bowed my head to practice hard. Even if I played so much that I had a cramp in my hands, I dared not slack off a bit.
After returning home, I sat down heavily on the sofa, stared at the guitar by my side, frowned and said: “Alas, my classmates all play that good. When can I surpass them in skill?” My dad comforted me and said: “You’re just learning. They all have learned so long.” I replied unhappily: “I will surely surpass them, as if waves behind catch up with the waves in front.” Dad gave a hollow laugh, saying: “You’d better learn it step by step. Don’t expect to run before you can walk. It’s not realistic.” I pursed up my lips and turned my face away from him, thinking: “Humph! Dad only knows to wear down my positivity.” But when I quieted down and thought carefully: Dad is right. Learning the guitar can’t be successful all at once. It needs to spend some time and pay some price. Right! I must keep practicing and never give up.
After that, when I went to the guitar class, no matter what the teacher taught, I would make a note of it carefully, and continue to practice after I came home. I worked hard secretly, thinking: “As long as I work hard like this, I must be able to make a great progress and gain the teacher’s praise one day.” One Saturday, I came to the training class as usual. I saw the teacher was teaching a student. The every note played by the student sounded boring without beat or rhythm; even sometimes he pressed in hollow notes. So the music simply sounded awful. After the student finished playing, the teacher wanted to play a duet with me. Hearing that, I felt a little nervous, but then I thought: I have practiced so many days. Maybe I can do it. The teacher seldom wants to play with me, so I must perform seriously. The song had two chord changes, and I made it. When we finished playing, the teacher applauded and said: “Good! I haven’t told you to change the chord, but you did it. Keep up the good job.” Hearing the teacher’s praise, I smiled shyly, but in my heart I felt very excited, thinking: “Ha, ha. Everything comes to him who waits. This time, the teacher will probably memorize me, a smart student. Among so many students, I finally stand out above them. From now on, there should be no one daring to look down on me.” Just when I was immersed in the joy, the teacher continued: “But the duration of intervals between notes you played was too long and the notes were not connected well. You should practice it a lot when you are at home.” The teacher’s word was like a blow striking on my head. I had thought I could be praised before others, but unexpectedly my skill was still far from good. I thought: Am I guitar player material?
Back home, the more I thought, the more grieved I felt. I couldn’t help crying: “It’s so hard. Others all do better than me. When can I catch up with them?” Dad looked at me, and then said: “As the saying goes, ‘More haste, less speed.’ We are all the creatures. How is it possible that a creature can naturally do anything? We shouldn’t pursue perfection, but should walk step by step and learn little by little.” I said unconvincingly: “How can it be that I am still unable to play well until now? It has been for so many days.” Dad told me seriously: “You just practice for a month, and then want to be a master. You are wanting to fly.” I didn’t want to listen to him anymore, so I held my guitar and went to my own room. I plucked the strings fast and heavily, with only one thought in my mind: The seniors play so well. When can I catch up with them? The more I considered, the more oppressive my heart was. Hearing the bad voice sounded from my guitar, I threw it by my side exasperatedly. Lying in my bed feebly, I felt worried, but suddenly I thought: There are many skills of playing guitar, why don’t I refer to the videos on the internet? Isn’t it a more direct way? So I immediately searched the words “Guitar Teaching” online. As a result, I was even more overwhelmed after watching. In the videos, those master guitar players were all younger than me: Some were over ten years old, and some even only seven or eight years old. Such age difference made me lose heart. I thought: They have become experienced players at the young age. However, I just started to learn at such an old age; it seems that I have no hope to learn it well. It will be in vain no matter how much effort I pay. Thinking of this, I was in my worst mood.
Just at this point, I suddenly remembered God, so I prayed to God: “O God. I am in great pain now. The better I try to learn it, the more poorly I do. God, I don’t want to live so painfully. God, please help me.” After my prayer, I began to read. I saw God said: “However, within humans, there is a weakness. As soon as they learn a skill or profession, people feel that they are capable: ‘I’m someone with status, a person of worth; a professional.’ No matter how capable or incapable they might be, before this even comes to light, they want to package themselves up and disguise themselves as important figures, and become perfect and flawless, without any defects. They just want to arm themselves so that in the eyes of others they will become great, powerful, fully capable, and without anything they cannot do; they wish to appear incapable of nothing.” “When creating humans, God put them on the ground so that your daily lives could be completely normal and your lifestyles disciplined, and so that you could learn general knowledge about how to be human beings, and learn how to behave, how to live, and how to worship God. … If people keep having such ambitions, always wanting to turn themselves extraordinary and superior, different from others, and special, then that is a problem! First of all, the source of your thinking is wrong. ‘Extraordinary and superior’—what kind of thinking is this? ‘Stand head and shoulders above the rest,’ ‘defy all comparison,’ ‘flawless and impeccable,’ ‘fine beyond compare,’ ‘forging a unique path’—when used in people’s pursuits, are these phrases good or bad? (Bad.) ‘Outstanding,’ ‘excellent,’ ‘special talent,’ ‘powerful presence,’ ‘charming personality,’ ‘irresistible,’ ‘celebrated and great,’ ‘idolized’—are such words any good? Are these goals that people should be pursuing? (No.) Then what are they? (Satan’s path; they represent the pursuit of becoming the archangel.) Is there even one word in all of the truth that tells you to be such a person? (No.)”
God’s word awakened me: God puts us mankind on the earth to live; His will is to let us be people who can behave and do things with our feet on the ground. But I always want to be a star and superman, and pursue to stand out over others. These are all out of line with God’s will and are the viewpoints of pursuit from Satan. I reflected on myself: At the beginning, the reason I decided to learn the guitar wasn’t because I love music, much less because I wanted to learn some skills, but because I dreamed to stand onstage and be surrounded by flowers and applause one day. When I went to the training class, I also wanted to flaunt myself before others and become a perfect person in their eyes, so that everyone could revolve around me. So, as soon as I learned the guitar, I even eagerly wanted to be superior to ordinary people and be able to make anything. When finding I know nothing about guitar, I worked hard secretly, and always wanted to surpass others and be praised by the teacher and classmates. Consequently, my desire of pursuing perfection became stronger and stronger, so much so that I couldn’t tolerate any mistake when I learned the guitar. Once I suffered some setbacks, I thought I couldn’t learn it well. Once I wasn’t admired and approved by others, I would lose heart and live in the pain. I wanted to be admired by others in everything, and didn’t want to be an ordinary person. Finally, I not only wasn’t happy, but sank into the bondage of face and status, feeling very painful and tormented in my heart. I thought that my dad once said to me that pursuing to be a capable person is worshiping Satan. It is exactly true. Didn’t Satan, the original archangel, believe that it was the most beautiful angel and had the authority God had given it to exercise control over the angels so that it wanted to be God’s equal? Looking into myself, it was obvious that I was far from perfect; I was just a beginner in guitar, but want to be a master at once. I was really as arrogant as the archangel. If I went on like this, I could only suffer Satan’s trickery and be harmed by Satan.
I also saw God’s word says: “You must learn how to walk, and how to walk steadily, one step at a time. If you can walk, then walk; do not try to learn how to run. If you can walk one step at a time, then do not try to take two steps at a time. You must be a person with your feet firmly on the ground. Do not try to be superhuman, great, or lofty.” God’s word made me feel suddenly brightened in my heart. As a creature, it is nonsense to pursue fame and interest and to pursue being approved by others. I should be a person, who is down-to-earth, and who do things with my feet on the ground. Whatever I learn and whatever I do, I should do it with all my heart and with all my strength. I should not pursue to be looked upon by others, but should pursue to satisfy God. Thinking of this, I felt released in my heart. I am just an ordinary person, a tiny creature, so even if I have many shortcomings and inadequacies, I should correctly treat my good points and bad points, and should not package myself so as to gain others’ admiration. Since I can’t play guitar, I should learn it little by little. It’s in vain that I want to reach somewhat high standard at once, which is not realistic and will weary me too. I should be my true self. If I don’t know about something, I should maintain a heart of learning, put aside my face, and go to ask the teacher or the seniors, regardless of being looked upon or looked down on by others. Only thus can I gain some true ability. After knowing these, I no longer felt being unable to play guitar was a shame, and no longer wanted to learn it well in a short time. What followed was that the pain in my heart vanished little by little.
When it came to Saturday again, I went to the training class. After greeting to the teacher, I sat in a corner and began to practice according to the music score. At that moment, I heard a sweet music. Following the music, I saw a girl who seemed several years senior to me was plucking the strings attentively. The beautiful melody was lingering in the room. I quietly saw her play guitar and especially wanted to ask her about the skills. But until she finished playing, I was still ashamed to speak to her, afraid that she would look down on me. Just then, I thought of God’s word, which says: “Such people’s heads are always stuck in the clouds, are they not? Are they not dreaming? Do they know who they themselves are or not? They do not know who they themselves are, nor do they know how to live out normal humanity. They do not know these things, and have never once acted like a practical human being. As such, they are headed for trouble!” God’s word awakened me to the reality. Wasn’t I having my head struck in the clouds? I suddenly knew God’s will in the words: Only by being a person with my feet on the ground, can I gain the true ability. And only by asking others humbly and not fearing losing face, can I learn more things from others. So, I came up to the girl and asked earnestly: “Sister, what did you play just now? I have never heard of it. How do you make it? Could you teach me?” She patiently replied: “It’s sweep picking.” As she explained the skills, she showed me how to play, which absolutely countered my imagination. It turned out that seeking help from others couldn’t make me look incapable and weak, but instead made me gain even more. I made a progress on my skill, and also felt very happy in my heart.
After having this experience, as long as I didn’t understand something, I would actively ask the teacher or the senior. Under the leading of God, I made progresses little by little and mastered various skills. Seeing these, I felt very secure within; I also saw that God’s word is the principle of my behavior and that being a person with my feet on the ground is precisely the certain need of a normal person. Moreover, I also found God’s wonderful work: Every time when I wanted to become a star or show myself off, the sound from my guitar would speed up and be unsteady, and even had some harsh noise. But when I practice God’s words “… walk one step at a time, … be a person with your feet firmly on the ground. Do not try to be superhuman, great, or lofty,” my heart would calm down immediately, and the sound would gradually become muted and smooth. Not until then did I find: It’s not the most important to play a music instrument well. I should learn how to seek the truth and how to be a person with my feet on the ground in my life. And only by acting as a creature according to God’s demand can I be really happy. This is my biggest gain in the process of learning the guitar.
Before long, my classmates and I formed a guitar group. I became the group leader, and was in charge of teaching some members to play guitar. At that time, I didn’t feel superior to others because of being the group leader, nor did I feel restricted and afraid that I would be laughed at by the members for my imperfect skills. Under the guidance of God, I didn’t care how the members thought of me. I just shared with them what I had mastered. When I put aside my dream of being a star and no longer pursued to rise above others, I felt unprecedentedly secure and joyful in my heart. I thank God’s guidance from my heart.
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