The Grace of This Moment

This is a story of one disappointment after the other. Of difficulty, broken dreams, and pain.

And of the God who brought me here. To this moment. To this grace.

This is my story.

A naive girl of fourteen, I thought I had it all together. I was content in the little town I had called “home” for most of my life, and I wasn’t really keen on the idea of change. I loved Jesus and couldn’t stand to miss a Sunday at church, but my Bible-study habits, being 99% dutiful, didn’t match up to the spiritual condition I professed. I filled my days playing the piano, my one true love. And I often fantasized about my greatest dream – in which I would enter a perfect courtship at the age of seventeen and marry a handsome, godly man, with whom I would have at least fifteen beautiful children and adopt a handful more.

Thank the Lord, he didn’t allow me to see my future.

My fourteen-year-old world was rocked when my parents decided to leave the quiet little hometown where all my friends lived, to a big city hundreds of miles away where I knew no one. I wasn’t sure how I would survive, and I thought my parents must be making a huge mistake. I didn’t like the big city and couldn’t wait till our time there was over so we could move some place else.

But I soon met new friends, settled into a new church life, and soaked up every music opportunity I could find. My piano skills grew till I was playing everything I could at church and even had a handful of piano students.

When graduation came at age seventeen, and marriage didn’t, I took advantage of my “single years” by building my piano studio, attending training courses, developing homemaking skills, mentoring young girls, and spending myself in service to the church. Meanwhile, my Bible-reading moments had their ups and downs, but nothing I would describe as “joy.”

Through a generous gift that humbles me to this day, I spent the next four years in Bible college and completed my bachelor’s degree in piano. I devoted every energy to its mastery {the piano, not the Bible}. Practice came first, classes second, homework third, church fourth, social life fifth, Bible last.

The first semester in, my world came crashing down. My hands went numb, pain shot through my arms, and it was all I could do to accomplish a semester’s work and still qualify as a piano major.

Grace got me through every waking hour.

And grace enabled me to perform an hour-long senior recital four years later with no pain. No pain.

So I moved forward with confidence and accepted a job as a campus staff pianist. I sat at the piano more than 30 hours per week – and still no pain.

Until four years later, when the pain returned and, this time, managed to change the course of my life.

Here I was, at age 26, facing daily, intense physical pain, my life’s work essentially pulled out from under me. Apart from a miracle, my piano days were over. In the midst of research and confusing doctor’s visits, one thing led to another, and a debilitating, unrelenting back pain appeared. I spent many days searching for relief.

And though I had little biblical awareness or spiritual strength to go on, I ran headlong into the arms of the God I trusted – who had carried me through many a storm, and who would carry me still. I clung to him, if only with weak fingertips of desperation.

In the weeks and months to follow, three beautiful gifts came into my life.

First, I came to love the piano less and people more. I gained a new, precious perspective, in which I recognized the reality of my pride and idolatry, and in which I found myself looking at the piano from a distance with a strange and wonderful contentment.

Then, with an overwhelming gap in my days that piano had once filled, I searched for new direction and avenues of influence. I began serving at a pregnancy center where I was given the dear privilege of regularly sharing the gospel and mentoring struggling young mothers. It was in this sweet place that I found new purpose.

Then, at age 27, after ten years of waiting, a potential marriage relationship began – and ended.

Oh, but this “failed” relationship was far from a failure. For in the end, a life-changing grace emerged: an immense love for the Word of God.

Through the example of this brother who truly loved the Word more than daily food, I slowly found the joy he had. I began to learn the art of digging deeply into the treasure of the Scriptures. And everything changed.

Sure, I had “known” God for years, lived a pretty radical “Christian life,” and poured myself out in service to Christ and his church. But oh how misguided I was. I didn’t realize the weakness of my foundation, as I attempted to build my “ministry” on my leadership skills or opinions, tagging on Scriptures I Googled to make it “biblical.”

But I knew something must have changed, when, instead of reluctantly feeding off crumbs, I couldn’t help but run to the feast, as I reveled in the knowledge of my God through his glorious Word. I simply couldn’t get enough.

And now I know some of what it means to long for the Word. It’s become such a joy, I’ve chosen it as the great aspiration of my days. So, through personal friendships and through my writing, I invite others to join the journey of knowing God by knowing his Word.

Never in a million years would I have imagined a life like this.

And yet, by what path did it come? Thank the Lord, he has allowed me to see my past.

Yes, the grace of this moment is that I’m 30 and single, still dealing with chronic pain, and still living in that big city I now call “home.” I can’t spend hours at the piano, but I can spend hours in the messy world of a pregnant girl who is desperately searching for new life. Rather than go to church out of habit, I see the church in all its broken beauty and rejoice to grow in the company of those saints. And rather than read the Bible because it’s the Christian’s duty, I soak in the Bible because I want to know God as deeply as possible in the few years I am given on this earth. So I spend my time there. I study it and think on it and write of it and sing it as I go – because I love it.

And that is grace. Only grace.

 [image credit: unsplash.com]


32 thoughts on “The Grace of This Moment

  1. What an awesome story of God’s grace! I can tell through your story that it has been quite a journey but He always comes out faithful in the end. I love to hear about your love for God’s word. I too went through a time of hardness and realization that who I thought I was while growing up was not who I should have been as a Christian. But God’s word prevailed at the end. I love God’s word and have experience it’s power day by day through His grace and understanding but to want to go to it every waking hour, I wish for that more than ever. Thanks for sharing your story.

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    1. Well, I can’t quite say I want to go to it every waking hour. In a sense, I do. But oh how other pressures push it out! So, I fight to give the Word a special place in my heart and in my days, and when I am in the Word, it is such a time of joy.

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  2. I love how you can see God’s grace working all through your story. I also studied music and for a long time it was the thing I put first and devoted all my time and energy too. It was only through difficult circumstances and things not turning out as I’d hoped that I came to realise that I needed to focus on God and put him first. I love how even when our own plans fail God is there, working it for good.

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  3. We’ve been away for eleven years, and I had no idea you suffered physical pain in your piano playing. You probably have no idea how much my whole family thought of your amazing talent. We were always in awe and loved hearing you and Mark Ritter play together. What a couple of young kids who had no idea how good you were!! I’m sorry for the disappointments you’ve experienced; but I am so thankful to know that you love God and have found Him sufficient and wonderful through His Word. I continue to be humbled by the grace God has poured out to me, and how utterly available He is, yet so often ignored. I join you in the endeavor to refuse unworthy distractions from Him while we’re here. It’ll be a precious thing in heaven to forever discuss His patience and perfect plan together.

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    1. Yes, I good bit has changed in the last eleven years! I am still playing for my church {I attend Fellowship Louisville now} on occasion and for other events here or there. It’s definitely a different life, but it is truly a gift of grace. Thanks for your encouragement and your input – you said it so well!

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  4. Beautiful , Lydia . As I read I could see God moving and working out His perfect plan for you. I found this inspiring and it brought me happiness as I read your story.

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  5. This is such a beautiful testimony of God’s grace, Lydia–Truly, “Behind a frowning providence He hides a smiling face.” (William Cowper). The love that the Lord Jesus has given you is a precious, fragrant offering–may He continue to use you to minister His grace to others.

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  6. I too found a deeper knowledge of God when Chronic Pain hit. At times I think about the wasted time living a Christian life in my own strength. My desire now is to encourage women to really take hold of God and find the joy in Him.
    I found you at Wholesome Wednesdays. I can’t remember which number. But the title is Let God be your Hiding Place

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    1. Wow, it sounds like God has done a wonderful thing in your life! Yes, my journey through chronic pain has played a huge role in my hunger for the Word. Sometimes I think of pain as pure privilege, because it means we have the honor of drawing closer to Jesus.

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      1. That is a beautiful thought. My heart before for you reading about your inability to play the piano. Music is my life too.however, it’s one thing God has allowed me to keep in my situation. It was other things that had become my god that were taken away. Good things but i was doing them in my own strength rather than through him. God and i have had the conversation. I know this is my “thorn in the flesh”, to keep my humble and depending on him.
        Have a blessed day.

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  7. Unfortunately, we share some of the same story. We both lost our ability to play the piano because of severe back pain. I too, have a piano degree, but no longer play. But, God has different plans for me and I know I can trust Him. I really loved your post and am so glad that you linked up at Together on Tuesdays! 🙂

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    1. Oh my goodness! Did I know this? I know I’ve visited your blog several times, but I don’t know if I realized this part of your story! Well, I guess I knew you experienced chronic pain, but I didn’t know it kept you from the piano! Wow! We should talk sometime! As I’m sure you will agree, this kind of debilitating pain brings a continual measure of disappointment, but, yes, in the midst of it all, God is faithful. Life is so different for me than it was even five years ago. But wow, I have seen so many joyous results. It’s amazing the graces pain brings!

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  8. Our stories are different, but the discovery of the words within the Bible is the same. I totally missed the point until the age of 35. I’ve been a Christian since birth, but didn’t know Christ!
    We might have it all planned out, but His plans are always better. Hard to accept sometimes.
    I enjoyed your post!
    #SittingAmongFriends neighbor,
    Julie

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  9. God has worked beautifully in your life. My heart is so full of love and wonder from reading your story that I can’t even put it into words. Your post is such an encouragement.
    Praying many blessings for you.

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  10. Your story melts my heart that your beloved piano playing caused you pain. My two daughters were in their early 30’s when they each met “their one” and married. Your work with pregnant mothers is a ministry not everyone can do. Allow your love of Jesus minister to these lovely ladies. If there is a marriage in your future, I pray that God will find a way to bring you two together. Thank you for sharing with us here at Tell me a Story.

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  11. Wow, Lydia, what a story!
    Thank you for sharing all that you have experienced, suffered, and overcome!
    You are a testimony of God’s grace!
    I found your post today on FaithnFriends.
    I pray that God will bless you and ease that pain today~
    Blessings,
    Melanie

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  12. Lydia thank you so much for sharing your testimony. The most amazing part is your story still isn’t over. Chronic pain doesn’t have to be forever and neither does being single. Nothing is written in stone with God except His love for us. I’m excited for your future in Christ.

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  13. Lydia, Thank you for sharing your story. His grace is threaded throughout. I see God’s grace in my story as well. I’ve learned to be thankful for the things that didn’t go the way I thought they should because it is through them that I learned to lean in to God’s amazing grace and love. Thanks so much for adding this to Faith ‘n Friends Blog Hop. Blessings to you!!

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  14. What a beautiful story! Although injury and disappointment can be incredibly hard, I love reading how the Lord used them to draw you closer to Himself. I was also a piano major in college, and although I didn’t love it quite like you did, I injured my elbow a few years after graduation. I can still play, but the injury plagues me 10 years later. How beautiful when we can let the Lord turn those hardships into means for glorifying Him!

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  15. Thank you for sharing your inspiration story. I am also a lover of reading the Word of God. I find answers to every situation between its pages. May God bless you in your work at the pregnancy center. A number of years ago, I volunteered at a center and found the work to be so rewarding.

    Visiting from Spiritual Sundays

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  16. Dear Lydia, though I’ve never dealt with chronic pain, I have gone through breakups and hardships that did certainly set me square in the hand of God- what a sweet spot to be in. It’s a mighty blessing when we can count it all joy and your story is an inspiration. I loved how you said that we can’t just feed off the crumbs… we can’t just eat the crust either… God uses mysterious methods to draw us in and get us to taste the sweetness of the feast. Maybe our physical pains are symptoms of spiritual hunger pains? You’ve really made me think today… thank you for sharing ♥

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  17. Thank you for sharing your story! Life never seems to go the way we plan it and sometimes we end up in the most amazing places! Your story is not finished yet; no telling what God has in store.

    I’m so happy for you that you developed a love for the Word. Me too! My story is very different but with the same result – an abiding love for His word.

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  18. how beautiful, how God led you through loss and pain to new horizons and passions, mostly the passion for Him and the word of God, and doing his work in the world where you meet a young mother in need.. so beautifully written, a story of redemption and faith! Visiting from #smallwonder today!

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