I have many bittersweet memories from my teaching days. Teaching is something I was drawn to- because I wanted to make a difference in people’s lives. I wanted to inspire others to dream and to find joy in doing what they love to do. For me- that “thing” has always been music.
I had one student in particular that I really connected with. She was very shy. She took both piano and voice lessons. She didn’t always practice- but who am I kidding? Neither did I when I was her age. I always told my students that my greatest desire was for them to have passion for music. Not to be the next Beethoven or Mozart, but to really love music and to find joy in creating music. When this student sang, she lit up the room. I saw her passion and it inspired me to be a better teacher.
I will never forget the day her mom called me to tell me she would no longer be taking lessons from me. I was devastated. I grieved the loss of this student I had poured my heart and soul into for several years. She even babysat my children. Over the years, I learned that this was just a part of teaching. We pour ourselves into students, and then we let them go. I later found out that she started taking lessons from someone who concentrated on opera and classical singing.
That made me feel even worse. Because when we have a pity party- it’s all about ME! I thought I must not have been a good enough teacher. For years this thought of not being “good enough” has plagued me.
I walked into the grocery store the other day, sort of feeling like I wanted to hide from the world. I smiled and chit-chatted as I saw several people I knew that day. I was getting into the check out line, and wouldn’t you know- the mom of my former student was pushing her cart by me. I smiled and asked her how she was doing. Then I asked her how her daughter was.
She told me to hold on just a minute. She took out her phone, and to be honest- it looked like she was texting or checking her email. I stood there for what seemed like an unusually long period of time, and then she said “I wanted to show this to you.”
She handed me her phone and showed me a youtube video of her daughter- a beautiful grown woman now- sitting cross legged on the floor playing guitar, and singing her heart out. I heard the joy in her voice as she sang, and I had to hold back my tears.
Her mom leaned in close to me and said, “You started that. She learned that from you, you know. I am so grateful to you, Julie.”
She looked right at me and pointed at me as she spoke. It was like God Himself had spoken those words to me. I finally heard someone say I had made a difference.
I told her mom that hearing that from her, and hearing her daughter sing again meant the world to me. After all those years of feeling like I had done something wrong, or that I wasn’t a good enough teacher- I finally realized something…
I had planted a seed. Sometimes God uses us for only a short season. I was no longer sad about her moving on- but thankful to have been a part of her journey.
In that moment He took a bittersweet memory and made it beautiful- all in His perfect time!
He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end. Ecclesiastes 3:11