Practice Makes Permanent
While driving to school Andrew shared a nugget of wisdom from his guitar teacher, “Practice makes permanent.” Practices does not make perfect, it makes permanent. Andrew reminded me if we practice something correctly over and over, eventually we will permanently learn it correctly. Andrew shared this with me because he knew I had my violin lesson today. Before crawling out of the car he offered this prayer for me, “Dear Lord, help mommy to know practice makes permanent and help her to remember she is better than she thinks she is. Amen.”
So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up. (Galatians 6:9, ESV)
God bless this boy for praying for his momma. Playing the violin is a new instrument for me. At forty-years old, I decided to learn something new and hopefully generating a few more brain cells in the process. Suffice it say, learning to play this instrument is equally frustrating and enjoyable.
Later that day, my violin instructor reminded me “There are no shortcuts to play the violin.” Inwardly I groaned, I knew she was correct. I’ve been taking violin lessons for eight months and yet I still struggle with the basic concept of bowing. The violin looks graceful and easy, but playing this instrument difficult. There are so many things going on at once and if your posture, arms, hands, wrists are not perfect, the violin will screech.
Practice Makes Permanent
Standing before me, Mrs. Peterson allowed her right arm to swing freely. Our body’s natural tendency is for our arms to swing behind and slightly in front of our torso, creating an arc. However, to play the violin correctly, the right arm must remain straight and perpendicular to the strings, not in an arc, but in a straight line. For forty years, my body has moved in its natural way, now I’m trying to break that pattern of movement.
Do not conform to the pattern of this world,
But be transformed by the renewing of your mind.
(Romans 12:2, NIV)
My mind wanders as my teacher demonstrates the proper bowing technique. Our arms have a natural tendency to move in an arc pattern that is counterproductive to playing the violin. As believers, we have a natural tendency to move in a pattern that is counterproductive in our walk with the Lord. We want the results of a life obedient to Christ without the discipline and sacrifice of time in His presence.
“Make the routine the reward. The result will flow from the routine.”
-Pastor Steven Furtick, Elevation Church
The week following that lesson, I carefully noticed my pattern. I practiced my posture and bowing. I did not open my lesson books; I only focused only on correcting the pattern of my old habits. As I practiced, I could hear the words of a childhood mentor and leader in my town:
“If you keep on doing what you’ve always done,
You’ll keep on getting what you’ve always gotten.”
Playing the violin is a lot like life. So often we want the results without the routine. We want results without the practice and without the sacrifice of time. Whether playing an instrument, making healthy food choices, exercising, or spending time in God’s Word, if we want to see change, we must embrace routine. If we want to improve we must examine our patterns and embrace the discipline of practice.