I had wanted to play the saxophone for years. It was constantly on my mind—my favorite instrument of all time. I asked my parents when I could start taking saxophone lessons—when you’re 9, they told me. And so, when I turned 9, we took a trip to the music store, picked up a shiny Jupiter model alto saxophone, and found a teacher. Finally, my dream came true—I was learning to play saxophone!
But it wasn’t long before some of the shine began to wear off. The practicing was hard slog, and I wasn’t really enjoying it anymore. It got to the point where, a couple of years down the track, I finally went to Mum and told her that I didn’t want to keep taking lessons. I felt guilty. Thousands of dollars had been spent already on the instrument and the lessons. But I wanted to let her and Dad know before any more money was wasted paying for lessons I didn’t want. Her reply to me was a big lesson.
“No,” she said. They wanted me to keep taking lessons. Why? “Because one day, when you are older, you are going to look back and regret giving it up.” She told me that this was something I just needed to push through, and that in the future, I would be glad I did it.
And so I kept taking lessons. Some days I enjoyed it; some days I didn’t. That’s just the way it goes. But looking back on it now, I am glad that I did keep it up. I made a great deal of progress, learned a lot, and to this day still have a saxophone with me here in Oklahoma (an even shinier Jupiter model!).
How easy it is to just give something up! It can be such a spur-of-the-moment thing. Often we focus so much on the short term, ignoring the long-term results of our decisions. As a young person, it can be easy to pass up on golden opportunities like I tried to do with the saxophone lessons. But think about your life further down the line, and ask yourself: Will I regret this? Will I regret giving up music lessons? Will I regret not really focusing during those math classes at school when I need the information further down the road? Will I regret passing up opportunities like applying for pyc? The answer, in most cases, will be a resounding yes.
Hebrews 10:38 says: “Now the just shall live by faith: but if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him.” How easily do we draw back from something? Imagine if we withdrew from everything in life that we thought was difficult or boring!
“But we are not of them who draw back unto perdition …,” the next verse says. We are a people who stand up and who persevere—who keep pushing through with something because we can look ahead and see the end result!
I am extremely thankful to have had the chance to take music lessons—and to have received the counsel to stick with it. I did continue with saxophone and later picked up oboe lessons. I took music classes in high school, and today continue to take oboe lessons. And here at Herbert W. Armstrong College, I have been blessed with the amazing opportunity to work in the music department!
One of my jobs is to help teach the Imperial Academy orchestra class. Seeing the students learning to play their instruments, seeing their successes, seeing them struggle through arduous hours of practice, reminds me of the struggles I had through my younger years—things that would have made giving up music lessons so easy. These are struggles I still face today—because practice is still hard. But I am learning to push through with it, to continue to develop my skills, to have a vision toward becoming that much better in the future. Those struggles in life make the successes that much more special!
I am reminded of a quote from the short film The Butterfly Circus: “… the greater the struggle, the more glorious the triumph.”
Make the most of the opportunities and blessings you are given in life. You never know where those paths will take you. I would never have guessed that I would be working today in the music department at Armstrong College! If I had given up the saxophone that day, if I had been allowed to drop all musical interest and pursuit, I would not be where I am today.
Don’t pass up opportunities or blow them off because it may seem like you are going nowhere with them or are not enjoying them. Get counsel from your parents! Keep thinking long term with your decisions so that when you are older, you can look back without regrets, glad that you seized the opportunity.