I haven't written in awhile, mostly because the Eastman School of Music seems to think it is the Eastman School of Music Theory and I have essentially been too busy with random homework assignments to do anything else. Not that I am complaining, because I am learning an awful lot. Besides, there are much worse things in life than Schoenberg and Webern. I am going to write a book (no- not this entry, don't worry- it will not be terribly long). When I woke up this morning (40 minutes later than planned *ahem*) I decided that I really have no choice but to write a book someday. My book will be all about suffering and promises and pain and hope- because those things must go together. In life, you truly cannot have one of those things without the others. If you never experience pain or suffering, there is no need to hope. If promises did not exist, we would have no foundation on which to build up our hope. Let me tell you, were it not for God's promises and the hope I have in them, I would not be living this life right now. I would have run away- a supremely long time ago. Life is not good right now. I can say that, for the first time I can really say that my life is just not good. Aspects of it are wonderful- God's blessings still remain. But overall, my life is not good at this moment. Suffering and pain are so near to me that I am even conscious of them when I am asleep. Because I really do not get any relief, I am absolutely exhausted. All the time. If you know me well, you know I like to be active and that I never procrastinate. I'm the kid who has her paper turned in a week early. I practice my clarinet- I practice hard. I love to practice. In fact, right at this second, there is no place on earth I would rather be than in a steaming hot Eastman practice room working harder than I ever have before. If I could just waltz over to the annex like everyone else and spend several hours refining my skill- that would be heaven on earth to me right now. I long for the day when I say, "Geeze. I'm tired of practicing. I need a break." Oh my word- how I will smile when that every-day, conservatory student phrase escapes my lips once again. Then I will go straight back to my practice room and revel in the fact that I don't want to practice, and yet I can! And I am! This may seem silly, I mean, how can my inability to practice my instrument physically- especially when my mind works and I am able to practice mentally- make me say that my life is actually not good? Well, about the mental practicing thing, it is working. I am learning so much just by studying my parts intensely with scores and parts and recordings... however, since I am actually improving as a musician, this makes me long to play even more than I ever have. For me, the increase of skill becomes the increase of desire. One of the lessons I am learning right now- believe it or not- is that, as a raise my own standards for myself and the way I conduct myself, I must not hold others accountable to my own standards. See, when I walk through Eastman and hear anyone complain about anything I get angry. My pride and self-righteousness rear up inside and cause anger because "how can you be so selfish? You complain about having to practice more than you want to while I can't even hold my instrument." You don't want to practice? Fine, trade lives with me. I'll practice for you. You don't want to learn your music because you think it is stupid or you are above it? Trade lives with me. I'll learn it for you. You can spend your weekend alone in your room keeping your jaw still, not talking, chewing or practicing, so that when Monday comes you can play your instrument in rehearsal. Then you see how you feel if I don't know my part and the ensemble sounds crappy- even though you have sacrificed so much, just to be able to play in that ensemble. Add to those emotions a very heavy dosage of steroids and cortizone shots- all to try to target the inflammation in the afore-mentioned jaw - and see, just see how you feel. I know I sound bitter. I hate this because I am getting angry. I haven't struggled with anger like this before and I desperately want it to go away. As I type, I remember the sermon at church yesterday was actually entirely on the topic of anger. Anger, if used properly, is a Godly passion and I believe I do have the right to be angry right now. The pastor said, yesterday, that he thinks Paul must have sat in prison and- after a week was praising God for the opportunity to suffer for the cross. After 6 months, was begging God for the strength to face tomorrow. After 2 years? He was asking God how angry he was allowed to get before God smashed him... Yeah, I'm about at my two year mark. And I am angry at Satan. I am angry because Satan attacks me with fears and doubts and causes me to question my Lover and Saviour, Jesus. He whispers lies in my ear telling me that "Your God is mighty to save... and yet, He will not save you will he?" And I cry out again and again and again and again and again and again. Jesus- SAVE ME! I CANNOT DO THIS ANYMORE. And Jesus, my wonderful Jesus, says, "Darling. I will transform your Valley of Trouble into a gateway of hope... so you can live unafraid in peace and safety... I will make you my wife forever, showing you righteousness and justice, unfailing love and compassion. I will be faithful to you and make you mine, and you will finally know me as the LORD." (From Hosea 2 NLT) So, my anger is justified. However, please pray that I do not turn that anger into bitterness towards those whom my Jesus loves- I am His servant and I desire to do His bidding. I want to love those around me, despite my anger at the devil and his lies and the pain that the sin of this world has subjected me to. The truth is, we all deserve to suffer. The other truth is, we don't have to nor does Jesus want us to. That's why I know he is going to heal me someday. Two nights ago, I stayed up late talking to Erin... we were sharing very deep- somewhat scary- parts of our spiritual lives. We went to bed around 2 so that we could get up for church the next morning. At 7:30 (an hour and a half before I needed to be up) I woke up suddenly and remember being really mad that God had let me wake up- sleep is so precious because it is the only time that my pain has any sort of "relief." He said, "Shhh... I know. I'm sorry. But I need you to pray for Erin and then you can go back to sleep." So I prayed for Erin and rolled over and went back to sleep. Halfway between asleep and awake, I had the sudden realization that there was not one bit- one tiny little bit of pain in my body. I think I smiled at that realization, but knew that the pain would come back in a few seconds. It did, but I fell asleep and slept very peacefully for an hourish. I woke up for church and remembered that moment and was filled with joy. For a few hours, I was joyful! Then, of course, the pain and the weight of my responsibilities crowded in and I had to fight depression and bitterness again... but that memory of a few seconds of no pain remained with me. As I lay in bed that night, getting ready to fall asleep and having a brief phone conversation with Ty (who is in Texas), I was telling him about the incident. I realized, in speaking about it, that more truth was made known to me. I know that Jesus was actually touching me and taking my pain during those few seconds. When he removed his hand, the pain came back, but peace and hope and belief remained. He touched me and I felt his healing power. I have felt it- therefore I must believe in it... not longer just on faith must I believe, but I now have the privilege of believing from experience. My Jesus can heal and with one simple touch, pain- all pain- completely disappears. Someday, he will touch me again. He will rid me of this thorn and the shackles which bind me to this pain. He will completely restore me. I believe.