While I was praying this morning, I was reflecting on a shift in how I’ve come to deal with compliments and praise from others. First of all, the more I grow, the less I look to others for approval…I’ve found that happiness is largely an “inside job.” But that aside, I was thinking about my recent stay in Baden, and a number of sisters who made a point of telling how much they appreciated my contribution to the music for the jubilee and one of the sisters’ funerals. When that happens, it makes me really happy, because I feel that God gets the credit anytime someone is touched by the music that comes from the sax or clarinet. I know this is not exactly true, but I feel almost as if I have nothing to do with it – when I get up to play, especially if I don’t have music to read and I’ve never heard the song before, I just listen and let whatever I hear guide what I do. In other words, my music is prayer, and what comes out is pure inspiration – God’s gift! So when people say they like what they heard, I have the real sense that the praise really is for God, and that makes me happy at a much deeper level than imagining the praise is for me.
Now if I can just get to that place more consistently in my professional life… There’s just so much scrambling around to keep up with new courses, committee meetings, assessment, research, advising, that it’s harder to get to a place where I can just close my eyes, listen, and depend on God for the next words to come out of my mouth. I like to imagine that my whole life, including work, is a prayer, but I still have a ways to go with that, especially with increasing pressure to be more and more productive. How about you?