14 Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid.15 Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house.16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.
Fine. I’m talented. It’s not anything I flaunt, and it’s definitely not something I broadcasted living among the musically and artistically touched up in New York City. Lots of people were able to serve in this capacity, with lots of musical numbers, often more than the number of Sundays in the year. I spent the last six and a half years sitting back, appreciating other people’s expressions of beauty and worship and … showing off. Let’s be honest.
I’m no prodigy or genius, but I won’t deny that I know a little bit about music. I won’t pretend I don’t love beauty. I won’t ignore the chance to make words shine and give them substance. Sometimes, though, I let these supersede my ability to make friends. Or, vice-versa. Still, I don’t carry around a flashing marquee that says I’ll sing for you or play the clarinet or write a mini-biography for your fireside. (But, I might offer advice you didn’t ask for.)
Sometimes, though, I’m so insecure it’s paralyzing.
My good friends know what I can do. They probably know that I’m best at being a good friend. That’s not something I hide, per se, it’s something I’m very deliberate about, and I take it very seriously. It takes a lot of time for me, which is why I’ve been so hesitant to venture into the unfamiliar here in Florida. Eleven weeks is not a lot of time.
It’s enough, though.
People haven’t held me to any expectations, which is … different. I see people with their walls down while I am still ever so rigid with my guard. People are so willing and eager to share anything and everything they have, not out of pride or praise; they’re full of love.
This past week, something possessed me to go to Institute and make a couple of comments in class. It’s always helped to ask myself during the lesson how I can relate or what I know. When I can actually answer these questions my heart rate increases as I try to decide whether to speak aloud in front of the class. Then comes the whole effort of trying to make my thoughts make sense as they come out of my mouth. Then comes hoping the discussion continues without my feeling foolish. I might have some anxiety issues.
Today in Sunday School we discussed being good citizens. And heck yes I had some things to say, because it seemed no one else could quite say what I could say from the place where I came. At least in that particular class. You know what I mean? And so I commented and the words flowed, which surprised me, but also confirmed how much I’ve thought about citizenship. Anyway, it spurred on further conversation and as the class continued, I wrote in my notebook, “I’m pretty cool. :)”
At the end of Relief Society ten minutes were reserved so sisters could bear testimonies. I really thought about bearing mine during sacrament meeting (what has gotten into me?), but when time ran out I figured I’d stand up at the end of Relief Society. The lesson ended. With five minutes left, our 83-year old pianist apologized for not standing. She uses a walker, and it’s great she still plays the piano for us. Cute as can be. She sat behind me, and we sat near the piano.
I listened to her as her humble voice expressed her love for the gospel. Then she told a story about how she talked to her son who lives in Middleburg about someone who moved into the ward who once attended the Middleburg Ward. She continued on about how she asked her son if he remembered someone named May, and how her son said yes, of course he remembers. Then how he remembers how I play the … flute?
With a lump in my throat, I gently corrected her. “Clarinet.” And then she recounted how her son said to make sure not to let that talent go to waste. Then she ended her testimony.
Then the adoring 21-year old sitting next to me whispered how there’s a Christmas Program coming up (she’s the choir director, and we’ve spoken only briefly but she announced to the class that I’m fun), and our pianist’s daughter who was also sitting behind me overheard this and laughed and I felt a hand on my shoulder. Fighting tears, I whispered to the 21-year old if she finds something, I’ll play it.
There’s nothing like being outed by an octagenarian whose son watched you grow up with his children and remembers well enough certain details about your life from so many years ago.
After the closing prayer I turned around and thanked our cute little pianist for her thoughtfulness. She had her hand on the back of my chair, and I held her hand while we spoke. We talked a little bit about her son whose children are all grown now. I told her I only have a few weeks left before I leave, and she said she was glad, because she didn’t want to miss the chance to hear me play.
Forget that I could literally fit under a bushel. I’m not hiding; I didn’t say no. It’s worth it.
Eleven weeks is more than enough.
And, I get to play.