10,000 Hours

John and I went to a seminar several weeks ago on the Common Good. A guy named Andy Crouch was there and he basically killed it. Everything. The piano. The singing. The speaking. Everything. It was sort of a, 'why doesn't everyone know about you' kind of moment. Like, I would have dragged a lot more people here this weekend if I knew it would be this good. It was fried chicken good. I know I'm pregnant when I hear the word 'good' and think 'mmm, some KFC sounds good.' But I digress.

Andy Crouch wrote a book called Culture Making. A book that I haven't read. Oops. But it's ok. I never actually met him over the weekend so I never had to lie. Who does that? Not me. Anyway. This concept - from how he explained it over the weekend - is the idea that we as people are to be creators of culture, not just consumers, critics, and condemners of it.


Scary word. But he talked about how God left major space for us to create. You see sound is good. But, music is very good. Color is good. But, art is very good. The forest is good. Gardens are very good.

Creators. I love this idea. I love the idea that God invites us into partnership with him to take what has been gifted us and make it flourish. Make it sing. Make it beautiful. He lets us make that happen.

I love that golf courses are so stunning. They're these highly manicured, highly man influenced landscapes and yet some of the most incredible manifestations of God's glory. And I love good food. Flavor packed ingredients coming up from God's ground made into succulent meals by human hands. And trees. Tall trees. With shade and blossoms in the Spring. But then houses made of that wood. Detailed carpentry. Gorgeous furniture.The list of ways in which we partner with God to create is endless. And endlessly inspiring.

One of the afternoons, Andy Crouch did a break-out session where he had us brainstorm the similarities and differences between two kinds of play. Playing a CD and playing a violin. The contrast was almost frightening. Consuming vs. creating. Passive vs. active. The restriction to listening vs the ability to collaborate. The concentration needed in playing the violin versus the mindless pressing of the play button. And one of my favorites, the autonomy of playing a CD vs the interaction and apprenticeship needed to learn an instrument. The coming over your shoulder and moving your arm teaching you can only get from another farther along on the road than you.

At the end of it all, he said this. Playing a CD will offer you instant gratification. You will listen to a virtually perfect recorded and mastered piece of music in which you probably had no hand. And playing the violin will offer years of frustration and practice. Obedience and discipline. Money and time. But 10,000 hours in, it will be among the most rewarding things you know.

10,000 hours in to playing the violin, my goodness. What does that even look like? I'm not sure given that I can't even read music and don't know the difference between a violin and a viola. But here's what I do know. I'm a consumer at my core. But I was created to be a creator. It's why I made myself stop reading so many blogs and start one. But I'm terrible at it. I have three pictures in this post. All taken within seconds of each other and yet I can't edit them with any consistency. Or for that matter, excellence. But I'm only a few hundred hours in. And though it's tedious and often disappointing. Though it's often vulnerable and often forgettable, I'm going to keep pushing through. And not just here on this blog. This is far from my deepest passion. But with being a creative mother. And wife. And designer. Creating moments for my kids at the zoo and not just in front of rectangles that glow. Creating. Doing. Digging in the dirt. Working. Making. Thinking. Trying.

I have now and have always had this tendency to think I'm older than I am. That I ought to be farther in life that I am. I ought to have mastered something by now. I ought to be more secure by now. I ought to know more by now. It's a terrible trait to have in a lot of respects. It's impatience breeding. So instead of trying harder to be better, smarter, wiser, I need to focus more on training harder to be all of those things...10,000 hours from now...for God's glory.

Before I sign off let me just say how intensely proud I am of my husband. I see his hands cook dinner and change diapers and type emails and hold me everyday. And then every now and again I get to see him behind the piano doing what he does so well and I have to remember the decades of practice and discipline poured into making it to where he is. The level he's attained.

In fact, the very evening that I wrote this post I went to an elementary school band performance that my mother-in-law is in charge of. I walked in a few minutes late and as I heard the first few notes of sound I sighed in relief and thought, 'Oh, no big deal. I'm not late after all. They're still tuning their instruments.' Oh JK that's just what they sound like. For reals. That first song was b-a-d. And those kids were s-t-r-u-g-g-l-i-n-g to stay afloat.

But I had nothing but a huge grin on my face as I had the enjoyment of watching them just a few hundred (or dozen?!) hours in. And even by the end of the night, the songs were better. FAR better. Good, even. I could actually tell what they were playing! Heavens, what a delight! But it was such sweet encouragement to see them faithfully enduring those early pains for the opportunity to participate in creating music. And it inspired such a deep respect in me for John as I realized what he once most certainly sounded like on piano back in a makeshift recital hall at St. Elizabeth's. And what he sounds like now. Oh, what he sounds like now.

So again, here's to being cloaked in the identity of a Creator God and going out and falling on my face to participate in creating.

But you know, when I think back to almost four weeks ago when I started writing this post before I got side-tracked and never finished, I wonder what was really at the heart of wanting to write it. And I think it maybe wasn't even so much about lighting some fire under my rear to start doing anything. I think it was just because I was so inspired learning from Andy Crouch about this Creator God of ours. God is just never as simple as I think he is.

Who, I ask, in His power, with His majesty, using His imagination would leave it up to us humans to draw things, grow things, make things? A God who is generous; who loves us. Loves to love us. Loves to let us work. Loves to watch us flourish. Loves to let us learn. Loves to accomplish things through us.

So maybe that's all this is. It's just a nod to a magnificently humble, merciful, awe-inspiring God. I've begun to think that my most fulfilling moments in life are the ones I devote to thinking about how beautiful and holy and brilliant and powerful and just and sovereign our God is.

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