On Gaining Vision
By: Leslie Yeary
Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. -Romans 12:11
Rejection from my beloved university and its prestigious School of Elementary Education tore buckets of tears from my fragile soul that sophomore year. It was my only idea. All I believed I could be. A teacher. And now, I wasn’t. Wasn’t good enough. Wasn’t allowed. Time had already been wasted and I didn’t know where to go from there,
be thou my vision–
in other words, oh Lord, where
do I go from here?
so I ran to my safe place. Singletary Center for the Arts. Choir: the hobby that brought me joy. A burly bass the shape of a giant teddy bear saw my hurt and side-squeezed a little of the ache out of me. He and a few friends pried laughter from behind my sobs, and then we sang with the fifty others who made me weak with humility. I get to sing with these people? These vocal performance majors who are well on their way to Julliard?
be thou my vision–
in other words, why do I
get to be right here?
I did everything I was told to do: gain experience, snag a different major (hello English and my secret love of poetry), consider teaching different grade levels, keep enjoying this experience…
be thou my wisdom–
oh Lord I am grateful and
leaning on your love.
so I did. I really enjoyed the classes in my new major. And, because I was still set on my own path, I completed the intensive one-year Masters in Teaching program after undergrad. I finished student teaching. I thought – thankfully – that I really did like teaching language arts to middle schoolers! All the while, I sang in the choir and strummed my guitar as quietly as I could.
High King of heaven–
I am trying to make you
the first in my heart.
It worked! I got the job. I was the teacher I had always planned to be. And yet,
be thou my true word–
your ways, Lord, are not my own
in fact, they’re better.
Reader, I hate typing this. I hate this vulnerability: I failed again. Not in the technical sense, no, I ran a fairly successful classroom (as well as any new teacher could). But – and this vulnerability could go deeper than the length of paper we have here – my body and soul were disconnecting from the Source of Life. I was drowning in people-pleasing, and I had grown ‘slothful in zeal’ as the apostle Paul had charged the church in Rome (Romans 12:11).
riches I heed not
nor man’s empty praise, oh Lord–
grant me your Spirit.
Now, I don’t know if God cares so much about what we choose as much as how we go about doing it. I surely could have served the Lord joyfully as a teacher. So many teachers do. However, in every bit of my own prideful complexities, I fell short.
be thou my vision–
God, I am your daughter, and
oh how I need you.
Here’s the mysterious thing in my story: in all His loving-kindness, God had already been gently directing my eyes to see a path he designed just for me. A path he knew I would love. A path he knew would require a lot of work and could be so rewarding. A path in which I could grow in my passions and serve him and his church. At the time he first introduced this path to me, I thought it was too hard. I said no to an invitation to join the University of Kentucky School of Music. I told Dr. Alan Hersh that I wasn’t capable of pursuing a degree in classically-trained piano performance. I stayed comfortably hidden in the alto section of the UK Choirs and played my instruments in the privacy of my own home.
talents buried deep
in the dark soil of fear–
a dead offering.
It was always there. God’s plan. And he was always near. Guiding me back after each wrong turn.
find peace in knowing
through it all, through it all God
will get the glory.
I still do not feel qualified to make music. I type this story as I simultaneously plan for this Sunday’s worship set at Crestview Presbyterian. I am still humbled by the people God continues to place in my life as I am pulled like gravity toward this passion, this first love of mine. And yet, here I am. And here God has always been in this ministry of worship to which he has called me.
be thou my vision,
my passion, my first love, Lord–
it’s always been you.
Haibun is the combination of prose and haiku poetry that tells a story of movement, growth or connection.
Lines from the haiku are taken from the lyrics of the old hymn, Be Thou My Vision.