Happy Monday, everyone! I hope your weekend was awesome! For this week’s inspiring quote, I chose a piece of advice from the legendary musician Beethoven.
The man Beethoven
Last semester in school, we were assigned to research a different composer every week. The composer the syllabus choose for the Classical period was, of course, Beethoven. Now, I don’t know about you all, but before I started to research him extensively, I had pictured Beethoven in the typical cliche way – untamed hair, fiery temper, grouchy disposition and all. Of course, he was a genius. But, I had never stopped to think about him as a person beyond the stereotype.
So, I started to research Beethoven’s life with that picture in my head – the only information I had really ever heard about him. At first, I found out that much of it was true; he was notoriously fiery in temper and had hair to match. Then I stumbled upon a collection of his quotes and letters. Suddenly, my prior conception of Beethoven was shattered.
In these letters, I saw a man who was heartbroken over his loss of hearing, a man who was tired of being unable to hear conversation or the sounds of nature. His ear had been the one gift that had set him apart- now it was his handicap. All of this personal information was completely new to me: now I was seeing the man Beethoven – not the myth or legend.
Yet, all this suffering revealed another part of Beethoven that I had never seen: his faith. Yes, it was probably a highly unusual faith, especially in the 19th century, since he rarely went to church and maintained a rather rough lifestyle. But, in most of his quotes, especially during his loss of hearing, he frequently mentions the role of God in his life. Here are a few examples:
I haven’t a single friend; I must live alone. But well I know that God is nearer to me than to the others of my art; I associate with him without fear; I have always recognized and understood Him, and I have no fear for my music – it can meet with no evil fate.
Recommend virtue to your children; that, alone can bring happiness; not wealth – I speak from experience. It was virtue alone that bore me up in my misery; to her and my art I owe that I did not end my life by self-murder.
Now, I do not mean to make this post a history lesson. But, I do think it is important for you guys to have Christian role models – especially from history. Another note: I am NOT saying that Beethoven was a Christian for sure, but from what I have read there is certainly a possibility. And, even if he wasn’t, he has some valuable advice that we can assuredly learn from.
Learning from Beethoven
So, back to the original quote. What I love about this quote is that Beethoven is focusing on what’s important. Obviously, he had been incredibly popular as a young composer. But then, tragedy struck as his hearing began to suffer. During this period in his life, he was extremely depressed. He even thought about committing suicide. Yet, the thing that sustained him through that tough time was God and the musical talents God had blessed him with. After he had lost his hearing, he thought that fame had passed him by. He probably considered quitting music forever – I know I would’ve.
But, he couldn’t quit composing. God had blessed him with an incredible musical talent, and he knew it. He knew he couldn’t just quit. So, despite the constant threat of failure, he continued to compose – and the rest is history. Many of his most brilliant works, including his 5th symphony, was composed in complete deafness.
I’ll start with a story from my own life. A few years ago – two and a half to be exact – I didn’t really have a sport to call my own. When I used to live in Florida about eight years ago, I did figure skating at a local rink. But then we moved.
I tried a couple of things, including ski team, tennis, running, gymnastics; but none of it really clicked. Then, my younger sister decided to try ballet that fall. In January of that year, I realized that I had always wanted to try ballet myself – but, I felt that I was too old to start now. Of course, my dad reminded me that that was nonsense; and I am so glad that he encouraged me to try it! I am now loving ballet, taking lessons twice a week, and am dancing on pointe!
Moral of the story: just because you think you are too old to do your talent professionally or make a living out of it doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t continue to do it! God often uses your talents for His glory, whether you are the best in the state or not. I know that starting ballet late has taught me so much already – and has opened up opportunities I would never have dreamed of if I had just played it safe.
The reason why I love this quote from Beethoven is that he encourages me (and you!) to continue to use our talents for God. If you think about it, God created you with those gifts, and He wants you to use them! Even if no one else appreciates them, remember that it is all about the “audience of one” – your Creator!
Back to Beethoven:
Remember Beethoven: even though his loss of hearing would most likely impede his career, he continued to compose because he knew that developing his gifts praised his Heavenly Father. As I have been reading in C.S. Lewis’ Mere Christianity, God doesn’t care about what situation in life you are born with – that is out of your control.
But, he DOES care about what you do with what you have been given. Maybe you don’t have the best coordination, or the best musicality, or the best athleticism. What you do with what you were created with is far more important than factors you can’t control.
I just want to encourage you all to think about that this week. Even if it seems as if continuing to invest in your talent isn’t “practical” (trust me, I understand – I think in practical terms as well) or won’t “pay off” in the end, remember that God has plans to use them in some way to develop YOU as a person and to develop His kingdom here on earth. Isn’t that freeing?
What talent would YOU pursue if you knew that you couldn’t fail?