Behind the Piano

She was so afraid, so insecure, that there was no other refuge for her. She had found safety under the piano as a child while her mother practiced. But when her mother died suddenly in an auto accident, all safety and security was gone. In fact, she had held her mother as she bled at the scene of the accident… She had held her mother as she took her final breath. In the months and years that followed, panic and extreme anxiety took hold of her life. She hardly ever left her home, making it necessary for her to depend on others for groceries or other needs. She was trapped by this insecurity and fear.
This character from Susan May Warren’s novel My Foolish Heart, struck a chord with me… and no, I do not mean that as a pun. I was heavily impacted by the fictional plight of this young woman. I at times have felt fear to the extent portrayed in the novel. But the fear was never paralyzing to the degree that I couldn’t go out into the outside world. Instead, my fears and insecurities are more of an internal battle— something that cannot be effected by the outside world.
Although my fears were very real, they were always fleeting; they would come and go depending on the nature of the situation. But my insecurities have stayed in place, causing me to hide behind certain people and things to mask what is going on inside of me. Musically, the piano has been a haven of sorts over the years. Since I am visually impaired and have found it hard to mirror the stage presence of others in my performances, I have always felt inferior with a microphone in my hand. My face on camera a few times was enough to make me grimace, so when I started to become more comfortable accompanying myself, I would slide onto the piano stool and sing behind the keyboard. When our church’s grand piano sat on the floor in front of the stage, I was hardly visible at all, and I liked it.
But I am insecure in other areas too. I am always uncertain when I entertain company at my house. Did I miss any crumbs on the counter? Did I manage to sweep up everything when I took a broom to the floor? Is my toilet clean? My visual impairment limits my perception of cleanliness at home. I can only try my best and hope it is enough. But then I start to wonder what my company might think and it sends me into a tailspin. I often ask friends or family to check things over before the guests arrive.
I had a bit of a revelation a few weeks ago when I hosted a casual evening of food and conversation at my home. Three members of the worship team sat around my kitchen as I laid out snacks as we chatted. We talked about our weekend plans, and I told everyone about my time at a Women of Faith conference. I relayed to them that we had talked about what might be on our name tag. This was in reference to Matthew West’s hit song, “Hello, my Name is.” I told everyone that it was easy for me to define that one thing that I had emblazoned on my name tag and that was “Insecure.”
That’s when the comments came firing back at me. They couldn’t seem to believe that I was insecure. So I explained further. I told them that my disability caused a great deal of my insecurity. I feel the insecurity rise up in house cleaning, doing my own hair, the fact that I don’t wear any make-up because I’ve never been taught how to apply it, my limited fashion sense, my lack of successful dating relationships, etc.
I was comforted by my friends’ encouraging responses. We talked about measuring up and feeling confident with who we are and the strengths we possess. It brought me back to the affirming words I had heard at the conference. I knew I wouldn’t be able to lay down all of my insecurities overnight, but I could start to reflect on what I needed to do to move forward. I need to step out with boldness some time soon, wearing those new shoes and an outfit out of my box. I need to have the confidence to do a performance without asking a friend to help me with make-up. Hey, I did it just a few weeks ago, and I didn’t feel the least bit limited by the fact I wasn’t wearing eye liner and mascara. Who cares if my eyes don’t look like those of other women? I have a visual impairment and my underdeveloped eyes are a result of that; I can’t change that reality.
Maybe, like one Sunday over the summer, I need to step away from the piano and just sing. I am singing for God after all, right? Does it really matter how I am portrayed on the stage? I might not be cowering beneath the piano, but I have certainly hidden behind it. It is time to embrace who I am and come out from behind the shadow of the piano. Only then can I start living in confidence of who I am in Christ. He made no mistake when He created me, and He is no stranger to my insecurity.
In My Foolish Heart, the character who was once paralyzed by fear comes out from under the piano, holding the hand of the one she loves. It is only in meeting a man like her father in character and profession that she is able to let go of everything that holds her back. As she stands in the shelter of his arms, it creates a picture in my mind of God’s arms outstretched toward me. He calls me out into the light, out of the shadow of the piano.

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