Today, I picked up a guitar, and let my husband teach me four chords.
It was a momentous occassion.
You’ve got to understand. I have a HISTORY with guitars.
Both of my parents play guitar. In the seventies, they had a folk rock band, and I would fall asleep (or not) to the sound of them and my “aunties and uncles” rehearsing Honeytree in the living room. Sometimes, my father would take the Martin out of its powder-blue case and sing silly songs with me. Or my mom would pick it up, and I’d listen, entranced, as she sang love songs to Jesus.
No one can sing quite like my mother, like the sound comes straight from the depths of her heart, still warm and sweet and deep, like fresh-baked bread slathered with butter and honey.
To me, guitars have always sounded like security, like comfort, like warmth.
But not when I touched them!
My parents gave me a guitar for my 12th birthday. I learned a couple chords, but they hurt my hands, and my fingers could never find the positions. The buzzing was the worst. I could never get it to sound right.
So I quit.
Have I ever mentioned, I REALLY hate not being naturally good at something I want to do?
In college, I picked up a guitar again. I was a voice major, and needed one semester to fill my requirements.
I could play individual notes just fine, but struggled to chord through “Shenandoah.”
Yeah, that’s right. Thousands of dollars for college, to learn to play “Shenandoah.” Badly.
I got through the class with a “C,” and foisted the guitar off on one of my cousins.
I couldn’t stand the sound of my own struggle, my musical imperfection. I couldn’t stand being in process.
Fast forward 18 years, a whole other lifetime. I’ve spent most of it married to an incredible music teacher. I’ve spent all of it studiously ignoring the guitars lying around our house.
My fingertips are sore.
My sloppy tone set my teeth on edge.
I didn’t like having to apply pressure to the fretboard.
It all felt very, very unnatural.
But I am doing it anyway.
While I’m at it, I am going back and re-examining some old beliefs.
I am good at guitar, for such a beginniner.
My hands are strong enough to do this.
So what if there are already plenty of people around me who play guitar, so I don’t really need to? Maybe I need to play my own song. Maybe they need to hear it.
Sure, it would be easier to crawl back to the safe, comfortable familiarity of the keyboard. But where’s the growth in that? Besides, it seems I’m always struggling to find female guitar players for events I’m worship leading.
I am DONE not playing guitar.
I am done being intimidated.
I am done shrinking back from my own shortcomings, my own failures, my own imperfections.
I am done being afraid of living in process.
I am done with believing myself too weak.
Yes, I think guitar is the perfect instrument for me to pick up at this phase of my life.
I’m stepping into the next 18 years with a guitar strapped on my back.