I’ve Come a Long Way

Yesterday in church, I played the organ as the accompanist for the congregation.  I’ve been doing this for exactly one year.  One year ago, I sat down at the organ bench, took a deep breath, and thought, “What on Earth am I doing here?  I don’t play the organ.”  And then I played the organ.  Terribly.

You know how I know it was a year ago?  Because every year on the Sunday before July 1st (Canada’s Independence Day), congregations across this great Northern country unite in singing “O, Canada” with passion and gusto.

o-canadaImage from here.

And one year ago, on the first day of my stint as ward (i.e. congregation) organist, I completely botched “O, Canada.”

It was pretty bad.

But one year later—yesterday—I played “O, Canada” again.  And would you be surprised if I told you I did better this time?  As I started the (very long) introduction to the national anthem, I thought a silent prayer:  Dear Heavenly Father, please don’t let me botch these people’s national song.  Please…  Amen.

Moments later I realised, as I was playing those sweet notes, that my fingers weren’t nearly as fumbly as they were last year.  My hands weren’t shaking.  I made a few mistakes, but they didn’t ruin me like they would have last year.  Last year, when I made mistakes, it took me full measures to recover, but now, I’m better at getting back on the figurative horse (usually).

organ-foot-pedalsI even played the foot pedals for the last line of the song on nearly every verse.  That’s big. Image from here.

I know I’m not a very good organist; I’m not delusional enough to think I’m the best, or even close to the best.  But I made it through “O, Canada” without blushing (too much), and that was a major accomplishment for me.

I’ve come a long way, to be sure, but there’s more.  I had another breakthrough yesterday—a bigger, more pivotal breakthrough…

On Saturday night at about 9:00, I received a message on my answering machine that went like this:

*BEEP*  Hello Camille, this is so-and-so from church, and I’m wondering if we could change the closing hymn from (blank) to (blank, which is a much harder, upbeat, and overall more terrifying song than the one I had already practised as the closing hymn).  Could you call me and let me know if you’d be okay with that?  Thanks!

Do you know what I did, my friends?  I called and said I would not do it.

Oh, sure, I tried to be a bit more tactful than a flat out, “No,” but the point is…I said I’d rather not.  I said I usually practise during the week, and if it were any other song, I’d probably be okay with it, but this particular song was one that demanded quick, peppy notes, and I didn’t want to embarass myself—and the entire congregation, who would feel so sorry for pitiful me {don’t act like you don’t feel embarassed for the organist when he or she botches a song}—by completely screwing it up.

See, here’s the thing: I almost never say “No.”  I was taught not to turn down requests for help.  Truly.  It’s really hard for me to tell people “No,” and most of the time, I feel good about saying “Yes” instead.  But yesterday I thought, “Is this really going to matter?  Will people really miss out on the experience of singing this harder song, especially if I know it won’t go well?  I think they’d probably thank me for knowing my own limitations if they knew I was saying ‘No’ right now.” And then I called, and asserted myself, and said “No.”  Girl power.

A year ago, after getting a message like that, I would have moaned, griped, and whined to Poor Kyle about being taken advantage of, and how I shouldn’t have to compensate for other people’s oversights, and I don’t even know that song on the organ, and it’s so FAST, and I’d totally destroy it…but then I’d turn right around, call so-and-so with my sweetest voice, and say, “Sure, no problem!”

Yesterday, when instead I used my sweetest voice to say, “I’d really be uncomfortable with that,” I felt guilty for about an hour.  But, in the end, I have to say…it was refreshing.  I kind of liked it.  I might be on a roll.  In fact, anyone who was considering asking me for help any time in the near future had better ask soon—I might not be a nice person for much longer.

And that, my friends, is a breakthrough.

Are you proud?  Did you have any breakthroughs of your own this weekend?  Come, let’s all rejoice in the glory of life-changing moments!

About Camille

I'm Camille. I have a butt-chin. I live in Canada. I was born in Arizona. I like Diet Dr. Pepper. Hello. You can find me on Twitter @archiveslives, Facebook at facebook.com/archivesofourlives, instagram at ArchivesLives, and elsewhere.
This entry was posted in Canada, change, good tunes, introspection, looking back, mondays suck, self-actualisation and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

18 Responses to I’ve Come a Long Way

  1. Carmen says:

    Good for you. It takes much more courage to say no than to always say yes. And no, it didn’t matter one bit in the end what song you guys sang.
    I’m like you, I play the piano, not the organ, but do it anyway. It was my calling in the singles ward for a long time and other wards as well.
    I guess my breakthrough or excitment this weekend was painting the bunkbeds and how cute they turned out. Thanks a bunch!! Couldn’t have done it without you (or known how either)

  2. Whitney says:

    Bravo! I would be super scared to play the piano or organ in front of anyone… maybe because I stink at it? Ive been thinking about taking piano lessons. But I dont know anyone who teaches that I can afford or who I wont simply talk to the whole time.

  3. niki says:

    way to go! i know how you feel. i’m someone that says yes all the time as well, but since being pregnant, it’s been much easier to say no. but don’t worry, i’m not aggressive or mean, actually i think i’ve done quite well in numerous categories in my pregnant state. i think it’s even safe to say that i haven’t even been moody or very emotional. that is my break through!

  4. ann marie says:

    What the crap? You play the organ? That is sooo hard! I give you props for doing it week after week! Our organists are piano teachers, and very talented piano players, and they mess up almost every week on a note or two. It doesn’t really matter does it?
    I think it does more to the “player” than the listener.

    I made it through my Gospel Doctrine lesson, and I felt great after! What I thought was the deadliest calling in the church has turned out to be my greatest blessing! :)

  5. Jami says:

    Oh I could type forever on this topic! First of all…I know how you feel about dying on the stand while playing the piano/organ. I have never played the organ (that heavens)…but everytime I play the piano I can’t stop shaking! It is terrible, last time I almost passed out. OH, and last time I played the piano, my last page FELL OFF THE PIANO! Yeah, it just fell on the floor!!!! I said I quick pray as well, and some little boy came and picked it up for me!
    BUT, the main thing is that I am so proud of you for saying no. I have had to learn that this last year…I still suck at it…but I have done it a couple of times.

  6. mikelle says:

    I totally understand how you feel. I pray that I might never have to play the organ, but around here there aren’t many piano players, so I’m sure I’ll get my chance someday. I’m finally comfortable playing the piano for Sacrament meeting (when I play for Primary), but the organ scares the crap out of me!

  7. shalynna says:

    I am the WORST at saying no. Ask anyone. do the exact same thing- I whine and complain and then I happily say yes to the person (then I hold a little grugdge against them for asking me in the first place). But, you will be so happy to hear that I have said no a couple times this month! I even decided to cancel piano lessons for the month of July just so that I can enjoy the island before we move. That is HUGE for me to do that! Although, I haven’t told the parents yet. I am kind of worried to break the news to them, but in my mind I feel so free knowing that I will have one less thing to worry about for a few weeks. :)

  8. RatalieNose says:

    I am SO PROUD of you!!!
    This is HUGE for you!!!!!

  9. Anonymous says:

    Well done, Mill. Perhaps I can start learning from you.

  10. Christal says:

    I LOVE those moments where I say what I’m thinking and just say no my goal is to simplify it works and if feels good! AND you did an awesome job on oh canada you should be proud of yourself you have awesome talent!! and your hair looked cute too!

  11. Rachel says:

    Props to you for saying no! And double props for playing the foot pedals! I am not coordinated enough to do that. If you want to feel better about your organ issue last year, you can read my traumatic organ experience here http://rachelkings.blogspot.com/2008/09/we-have-new-contestant-for-rachels-most.html

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  13. anna says:

    I can play the piano, but I can not accompany. I get nervous and I imagine I am going to mess up and then stop before I ever mess up and start the current measure over. My husband calls me the stuttering pianist. Anyway, my point is, I understand what it’s like to botch the song and I’m glad you were able to play so well this time.

  14. I love the piano but I’m scared of the organ.

    Also, I’m also the same way about saying no. I read an entire book on it (“NO” by Jim Camp – highly recommend!) and it did wonders for me, but a few months later I was back to saying yes to everything all the time. Hmm maybe I need to read it again.

  15. DeAnna says:

    Good for you, saying No sometimes is necessary. Living in the boonies saying No isn’t an option very often. It’s either you do it or well it doesn’t get done. Kinda sucks. I can’t say I’ve had a break through at all recently, basically the same old.

  16. Hannah says:

    I’m horrible at saying no. I say yes to every calling I get in our ward even if it’s really not my thing and I’m to busy to do it. I know your supposed to never turn down a calling but sometimes I wish I could. And I always want to say no to speaking in church, I freak myself out for weeks over it and it’s over in 5-10 minutes. However I’ve become very good at saying no to my sweet family. Poor them. Good for you!

  17. Liz says:

    Good for you, saying no! This spring my mother in law and I did a book study together. The book was called Boundaries. I learned to say no, too! It’s far better to say no and have a happy heart than to say yes and feel resentment!!!

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