The Most Difficult Instrumentalist to Find

Her tears flowed next to me, while she tried to drain every ounce of joy from my victory. I know it was her high school senior year, but I had won even though I was a junior. Did she think I didn’t deserve it? Didn’t she know how many hours of preparation I had paid to get to this point? It wasn’t just that “I played the saxophone,” I had BOUGHT the saxophone – or half of it anyway (My parents paid for the other half.) with money from HOURS (or YEARS!) of babysitting. I had even gone to the tryout extremely sick. My fever registered 102 before school the previous day, but if we missed school on Friday, the school rules didn’t allow participation in weekend activities; so I had ignored the fever (and avoided Mom’s touch) and headed to school anyway.  I had bonded with my tryout music for six months, waiting for THIS Saturday, the tryout for District Band. I didn’t even look for the thermometer that morning; I knew the fever was still there, but first chair would be selected to go to Regional Band and then the first chair from each of the five regions would head to Pennsylvania State Band. My 2,000-student high school had not had a representative at the State Band level for the five previous years. What a hero I would be when I returned home with the coveted award, representing Carlisle High School! And that girl was trying to steal my joy with her jealous tears in the seat next to me. Our friendship was destroyed as I realized she didn’t want good things to happen to me.

The next year, as God would have it, the tables turned. While I was laughing at someone who had tripped on the way into our jazz concert, my precious horn fell and was dented. The following day, I walked uphill both ways in a snowstorm (well I did walk uphill, after my car wouldn’t make it due to ice) to the repairman in the basement of his neighborhood home. He fixed the horn the best he could, but the low B-flat wouldn’t seal properly. I had two days to adjust to this handicap before County Band seat tryouts. Of course I had nothing to worry about at County Band: I had made it to three levels higher than that the previous year.  What were the chances of the judges choosing music for a tryout that would use the saxophone’s lowest note (B-flat), anyway?

They did.

The seal didn’t seal, and I, the previous year’s State Band member, squeaked during the tryout.  I was given 2nd chair – which meant the solos of the concert would go to the other guy. He had not even advanced one level past County Band the year before. I was miserable to be “under him.”

Tears did not flow – I would NOT be that other girl; but I sat “secretly” brooding next to the young man who had been given first chair.

When it came time for the solo, jealousy had a grip on the reins of my heart. I hoped he would mess up. Crash! Fail!

He did fail. He didn’t count right. (See?! I thought. I deserved that place.) The director told him where to play and he came in wrong again. I leaned over and pointed to the music, showing him where the director meant for him to be. The first-chair player jerked and turned to me. Very upset, he said, “Just play the solo. You know he’s going to give it to you as soon as I mess up!”

I suddenly realized I had stolen his joy – the same way I felt the girl had stolen mine the year before.

Jealousy is another symptom of an ego out of control, and it destroys relationships.

When the conductor of one city’s philharmonic was asked to name the most difficult instrumentalist to find for his orchestra, he didn’t answer “oboe” or “french horn” as I would have expected. He didn’t even hesitate to think when he replied, “Second fiddle.”

Sinful human nature wants to get first chair and take credit for getting there.  Wasn’t it God who gave me the ability to play an instrument? Didn’t He give me the desire to practice hard and the time to do it? (Philippians 2:13) Didn’t He allow me the babysitting jobs to earn the money to buy it and then fix it? Did the orphans in Guatemala have any of these choices? Without Him would I have had ears to hear music or fingers to form the tones? On another note, isn’t He sovereign?  Didn’t He allow the saxophone to break, the judges to pick that part of the song, and the squeak to emit from my horn and the other young man to be chosen?

Jealousy destroys relationships. It is ultimately a form of lack of faith in God, and like any symptom of pride, it blocks us from fellowship with the Lord.  We are not loving God with “all our mind,” if we are using our minds to think of why we deserve something more than He gave us.  I have heard of mothers jealous of daughters, wives jealous of husbands, siblings jealous of each other – and all of those can be within one house, being torn apart by its inhabitants.

–       Jealousy says, “I know more than God.” (because I believe I would have been better suited for these gifts.)

–       Jealousy says, “I care more about myself than I do about the person who was blessed with what I want.”

–       Jealousy is the antithesis of the love of God and of our neighbor that we are commanded.

So how do we overcome jealousy?

1.  Pray!

Satan, get thee behind me! We will not be tempted beyond what we can bear. (1 Corinthians 10:13)

2.  Replace bad thoughts with good ones.

It is virtually impossible to say, “I will not think that anymore,” because human sinful nature allows the thoughts to creep back.  Instead, REPLACE the thoughts with positive ones.  Congratulate the person who got the position or reward; obviously you admired the position enough to want it for yourself.

3. Thank God (1 Thessalonians 5:18)

A thankful heart cannot be a jealous one. Thank God for what you DO have instead of focusing on what you don’t.  Thank God for second fiddles! Without them, there would be no musical harmony. When we are thanking God for what He has done, we are not “telling God” what to do.

We are so blessed to have been given ANY part to play in His orchestra. For His glory, may we play our part well.

In love,

Terri Brady

1 Corinthians 12:20 – 27:

As it is, there are many parts, but one body.  21The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” 22On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, 23and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, 24while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has combined the members of the body and has given greater honor to the parts that lacked it, 25so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. 26If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.

27Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.

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21 thoughts on “The Most Difficult Instrumentalist to Find

  1. Thanks for sharing Terri! I remember seriously struggling with jealousy my freshman year in college because I got second place in a contest for the biggest business scholarship in the state of Kansas. The only thing that changed my heart was praying FOR the success of the girl who beat me– and by God’s grace we’re great friends today, four years later.

  2. Terri, thanks for this great post!! And the verse at the end is one I’m going to write down for my family & I to see always! Love it! Your such a great teacher of the Lord!!:)
    Thanks, love ya

  3. We talked about this in our study of Improving Your Serve today – and as the Lord often does, He tested it only a few hours later for the two of us who had worked through this. Pride demands that we be given recognition for what we’ve done. Humility sends the credit to God. Thanks again for a timely post 🙂

  4. Very well written Terri! It’s amazing how pride can sneek in, in all it’s forms. Thank you for exposing several ways to detect pride so that we may grow and shine brighter:). Your making a difference! God Bless!

  5. I recently had a talk with my son, who is playing violin in his school’s elementary orchestra, he asked what was the difference between first chair and second chair. I explained. He of course asked when he would be eligible to be first chair. I told him that the kids in first chair have been practicing for that for a long while and since this is his first year, he now knows that it is something he can work for. He went to school, spoke to his teacher and came home to say “Mom I am working to be first chair next year. For now my job is to play my very best in second chair.” I really thank you, Chris and all of the LIFE I don’t think our kids would have this kind of perspective if we had not learn so much from you all.. Thanks.

  6. Reblogged this on UpGradual and commented:
    This is one of my favourite bloggers!
    Terri’s post about jealousy shows just how we can destroy relationships with our out of control egos. Imagine trying to brag on the little great things our husbands do while harboring jealousy against them. You just can’t celebrate and be jealous.
    Please read her wise and practical words and leave your comments.

  7. Such a timely post, Terri. The LORD has blessed you with much wisdom and writing abilities. Thank you for the ways to get rid of jealousy. “I distinctly remember forgetting that” has worked wonders in healing some of my relationships that have been destroyed due to jealousy. It’s my internal que to put a kind thought in my mind (and heart) about that person. Thank you again!

    God bless you,

  8. Well put. Thank you for your straight forward style and love. Your words touch my heart and make me want to learn more.
    God bless you and have a great day!

  9. Oh, Terri,
    Thank you so much for relating your own struggle with that ugly green monster of jealousy, and letting us know we are not alone in fighting it.
    I remember when I was up for a promotion at work and only 1 other person was up for it, too. She got it, largely due to her greater experience in the job we were interviewing to supervise.
    I remember seeing her posts after she got it on a social networking site, about the parties she threw and the stuff she did at them. In the midst of my disappointment I was oh, so smugly superior, saying to myself as I read them I would never have done such things had I gotten it . . .
    Stopping me took God bringing me back to the same themes for 2 weeks in my daily quiet time, opening multiple Scriptures to me about my jealousy. He said her activities were His business, while mine was to be obedient to her as the authority He’d placed over me at work.

    • Thanks so much for sharing, Cathy. His ways are not our ways and His thoughts are not our thoughts, yet thankfully, you trust Him and lean not on your own understanding! I appreciate you!

  10. Terri,
    I love to start my day armed with what God has spoken through you! There are many times reading your articles that many personal examples of pride pop into my mind! Thank you so much for your transparency in sharing!

  11. Terri,
    I usually do not reply to these posts, I may just read them and maybe even share them. Yet with this post I feel it has spoken straight to me. I grew up very jealous of everyone for having a family, having friends over more then a year, or even for any number of things that I thought i was not good enough or circumstantially did not have. I have grown a little happier and care free as I have aged but do still get many of those thoughts of jealousy that creep in. Since joining LIFE I have had a chance to really look at myself again and realized I have just been hiding or ignoring the negatives in my life rather then turning them around into the many positive things I do have in my life… I am alive, I have my relationship with my savior, I have come out stronger for being homeless and jobless many times in my young 30yrs, and I have great friends as well as a WONDERFUL mentor/life(and LIFE) teacher. I do apologize about the length, but just really felt I needed to share to demonstrate just how much your post spoke to me.
    Thank you!

  12. Thanks for sharing Terri. You have such a gift of taking experiences and making the lesson from them so clear. I love to read your posts and hear you speak.

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