“Practice, practice! All I ever do is practice!” said Hayden, slamming down the lid of the piano. “I’m getting sick and tired of practicing!”
“Now, Hayden, it’s not always fun, but you need to have patience. Your recital is coming up in three weeks, and that isn’t very long to learn your piece. Mrs. Lewis said to set the timer for one hour, and you’ve been practicing only half that time!”
“Mom, I just can’t sit here anymore. Jordan wants me to go over to his house.”
“Go ahead, Hayden,” said his mother reluctantly. “But you know what Mrs. Lewis will say at your lesson on Friday. She can always tell if you haven’t practiced enough.”
“I know,” said Hayden, “but this is only Tuesday. I’ll make up for it tomorrow after school. I promise!” However, the next day when he came home he told his mother that Ryder had asked him to go over to his house for dinner. “I’ll practice as soon as I get home,” he promised.
That night Hayden draped himself over the piano bench and set the timer for one hour. Methodically playing “Waltz of the Butterflies” over and over . . . he made the same mistakes time after time. He looked at the timer. Time was going so slowly. I just can’t sit here any longer! He thought. I just don’t feel like practicing anymore. So he got up.
Day after day the same scene was repeated. There was always some reason not to practice. Then, before he knew it, it was the day of the recital.
Hayden swallowed nervously when it was his turn. Sitting down at the piano, he wished that miraculously the piece would sound right, but he made the same mistakes he always made at home. Boy, was he embarrassed! Now everyone will know I didn’t practice enough, he thought as he got up from the piano.
Next it was Lucy’s turn. She played the same piece he had just played—she didn’t make one mistake! That’s not fair, thought Hayden. We started taking lessons at the same time. Why is she so good?
That night as Hayden and his parents were driving home the air was heavy with silence. Finally Hayden blurted out, “I don’t get it! Lucy started taking lessons the same week I did. I made the same old mistakes I always make and she didn’t make any. It’s just not fair!”
His parents exchanged knowing looks, but did not reply. Hayden slumped back in his seat, despondent for the rest of the way home.
Once inside the house, Hayden headed straight for his room.
“Hayden,” his mother called to him, “Will you come into the living room and sit down for a minute?”
He trudged slowly into the room.
“Hayden,” said his mother gently, “What happened today was an important learning experience. I want you to look back on the last few weeks, and think about your practicing. Do you remember all the times you had something else to do? You know that you didn’t practice for an hour every day. And you didn’t have your mind on your music when you were practicing. Did you ever wonder why I let you get away with it? I decided you would learn more if I let you do it your way this time.”
“Oh, Mom, I get so tired of practicing! It gets so boring and all I can think about is getting done. I just don’t have the patience,” said Hayden. “Anyway, I’ll never be as good as Lucy, so I might as well not even try.”
This time his father spoke up from the other side of the room. “Do you know why Lucy played the same piece you played, without any mistakes? Because she had patience and stuck with her practicing. I’m sure she has had times when she didn’t feel like practicing, but she must have done it anyway. There must have been times when there were things she would rather have done, but she stuck with it. She proved that today. Now she can feel that all of her practicing and patience paid off because she played her piece so well.”
“Hayden,” his mother put in, “did you know there are different types of patience? Sometimes we have to do things we don’t want to do, like practicing every day for an hour. Patience can mean working hard without complaining. Sometimes that’s difficult to do!
“Then there’s another aspect of patience. After you have practiced or worked hard without complaining, and you see little results, that’s where enduring or waiting comes in. If you keep practicing, someday you will be very glad you did. You will get better and it will become easier to play. But that won’t be next week or even next month. It will be in the future.”
Hayden’s dad nodded in agreement. “We read in the Bible, ‘But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.’ All through our lives we will face things that will demand hard work. We must try not to complain. Patience doesn’t come naturally to any of us, but if we work at it and ask the Lord to help us, He will give us patience.”
Hayden sat silently for a few moments. Then he smiled at his parents. “I guess I’d better not stop practicing now. I want to be a good piano player someday. I’m going to ask the Lord to help me have patience.”