Thursday, December 18, 2014

Published 11:56 AM by with 5 comments

A Christmas Miracle: Finding Jane

I wrote this true tale from my life almost exactly a year ago, but I loved it so much that I wanted to share it again as a testimony of how incredibly connected our lives are, all of us humans all over the world.

This is the story of a girl who loved music. Who felt in her bones that she was meant to be a guitarist, a classical guitarist, since she was four years old. Who waited both patiently and impatiently until she was eight to begin guitar lessons. Who was determined to pursue music in college, go on to grad school, and hopefully dive into the world of competitions, and maybe tour some day.

She gave up that dream.

Halfway through college, a book came into her life: Hidden Art, by Edith Schaeffer. One of her mentors (now a beloved best friend) suggested that she read it, because it spoke about the beauty of expression and art that can be found in ordinary life. One story stood out. In the chapter about music, Schaeffer wrote of a woman named Jane.

"I have told in "L'Abri" how Jane came to a place of certainty, after much prayer and struggle, that God was calling her out of opera, where she was having a tremendously successful career, into the work of the L'Abri fellowship. She was willing simply to cook, garden, scrub floors, talk to people, and teach the Bible. There is a place for the conscious sacrifice of the expression of a talent, asking God to show His will for the use of our lives in any way He plans- rather than insisting that it must be fulfilled in particular ways. It is a turning from or giving up- with complete trust that God really is love, and all wise, and would not waste the life of any one of His children... among those who have met in L'Abri [are] people who have chosen to put aside ambitions, and are simply enjoying musical expression without the desire for 'success'."

If you look at the picture below, you will see question marks inked across this page. When the girl read it, her world exploded. How could someone give up their musical dreams?! To mop floors? To SACRIFICE years of study, hours of practice every day for months and months, the fine tuning of a talent? WHY would you do that???

She and her friend discussed the possibilities at length several times. There was obviously a deeper turmoil going on in this girl's heart and mind. Recently the girl had begun teaching, a job she enjoyed very much, but one that she intended to use just as financial support through college until leaving for grad school. Maybe someday she'd pick teaching back up again, but the world of music performance called!

At least, she thought it did. Now she wasn't so sure.

Reading about Jane in "Hidden Art" planted a tiny seed of change. Now, instead of plunging ahead with her own plans, the girl began asking God to show her what His plan for her was.

Long story short: by the time she reached her senior year, she knew without a doubt that she was not meant to be a performer, but a teacher for children instead, a teacher in the same classical music program she had studied in when she was eight. It took months of prayer, listening for the Spirit, seeing her path change, watching opportunities come and go, realizing that she didn't really have the mindset it would take to make it in the competitive realm of music, and most importantly, discovering where her joy really lay.

Fast forward almost five years.

The girl was at a Christmas party, happily chatting with an elderly man, the grandfather of one of her new students. During the conversation the man mentioned that he used to live at L'Abri. And then went on to describe how wonderful the music was at L'Abri, especially when a woman named Jane was around. "Not the same Jane from the book by Edith Schaeffer?" the girl gasped. Yes, the very same.

The Jane whose operatic debut was on stage in Vienna. The Jane who was set to become a Wagnerian soprano. The Jane who spent some time at L'Abri to search for answers and felt the Spirit gently whispering to her that there might be another Path for her life, who finally found that she felt most satisfied by serving others, singing with handicapped children, and teaching at L'Abri. And more than just being satisfied: she felt that she was doing exactly what she was meant to do, created to do. She found joy. She found peace.

The girl blurted out her own story, how Jane had been a key to a new way of listening to God instead of forcing her own way. The elderly man nodded and smiled, then he reached into his pocket and pulled out his cell phone. "It's late, but I know her. She'll still be up." He dialed a number, listened to the ring, and spoke to the hello on the other end: "Good evening, Jane, my old friend. There's a young woman here, a classical guitarist and teacher for children, who would like to talk to you."

Tears filling her eyes, the girl took the phone. In the midst of the Christmas festivities going on around her, she was oblivious to all except the quiet, gentle voice of the eighty year old woman halfway across the country. Jane asked for her story. The girl managed to tell her of a Path changed, of tough decisions, of the pages in a book that inspired her to think differently, of a new life as a wife and mother that would have been hard if not impossible as a performing musician, of her love of teaching, of the incredible grace given in spite of so many mistakes.

"God will never waste the life of one who lays it down for him," Jane said, her ancient voice still deeply rich. "My dear, I am so glad that our journeys have crossed here! What a blessing to know that God always works in mysterious ways. We may not understand at the time what he has in store, but he always has a plan for our future good."

Passing the phone back, the girl cried tears of wonder. Now, whenever the question of "what if" arises, this miracle of a woman named Jane speaking across the page and over the phone, a living testimony to the incredible Providence of the Living God, echoes through her heart.

"And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose..."

Questions are Marked in the Pages of Our Lives



Speegg said...

Awesome story. Thanks for sharing:)

Jennifer - The Deliberate Mom said...

This is so beautiful and so like God. Wow. I got goosebumps and bawled while reading the words of Jane spoken to you.

Absolutely beautiful.

Thanks for sharing at the #CHRISTMASbloghop!

Wishing you a lovely weekend and a very Merry Christmas.

Lyssa said...

Thank you very much, Harry! And thank you for supporting my musical endeavors!

Thank you, Jennifer! Have a merry Christmas; I enjoyed the holiday blog hop!

Abigail ~ said...

OH MY WORD! this is amazing. i love love love this story. being a senior in high school this year, I've found my thoughts wandering along some of the same paths lately. when we're doing God's will, everything will work out. maybe not exactly to our ideas, but better.
thank you for this :)

Lyssa said...

Oh, sweet Abigail, you were on my mind as I posted this! I know you have the same kind of decisions to make regarding your musical journey. Whatever you decide to do, I'm sure it will be beautiful, and you appear to be eager to let the Lord guide your steps, and He will bless that : )