A couple of minutes ago, I made one of the hardest decisions of my life. As you may or may not know, for the past year and a half I have been interested in pursuing a major in music education here at UCLA. After talking with the head music education professor, I applied on voice as my instrument, but I was rejected in February because I do not sing operatically. The professor and I saw–and still see–things differently. Neither of us thinks that singing operatically is any indicator of my musicianship, and should not be used in the criteria of admitting music education students who apply on voice.
Because of this, I fought against the rejection. The music education professor wanted to create a new instrument for me, called “choral voice.” That effort did not pan out. Then he told me that if he could procure funding for private lessons, I could be admitted to the major. He also proposed alternate paths to becoming a music teacher in the event that I could not be admitted. We discussed these things until now, when earlier today he informed me again that if he could get the money for private lessons, I could be admitted to the major. My original plan was to take two pre-requisite music classes and two pre-statistics classes (Stats 10 and Math 31b) to give him one more quarter to make it happen. About an hour ago, I called my parents to tell them what I was thinking.
In short, they were not happy. My mom was concerned that his response was again conditional, that I could be admitted to the major, but only if x, y, and z. She thought that the emotional roller coaster I have been on for the last year or so was enough for all of us and she wanted me to pursue a stats and econ double major. (This is what I had planned earlier in the summer, when I had little assurance that I would be admitted to the music major.) My dad was concerned that I would stop at nothing to become a music teacher, consuming vast tracts of my time and money to do so. They both wanted, and instructed, me to stop pursuing a music major and to do other things.
Usually I am understanding of the positions of others. I try my best to see things from different points of view. Today, I could not. Becoming a music teacher is my dream. It is my passion. It is something I desperately want to do. Hearing my parents tell me to cease pursuing it was devastating. But I remembered the command to obey and honor one’s parents (Exodus 20:12, Deuteronomy 5:16, Ephesians 6:2). I remembered a staff member’s testimony from GOC’s spring retreat, where she stayed at a less-than-solid church because that was the wishes of her parents. (After much intercession, her parents finally let her go to a different church.) So I made one of the hardest decisions of my life–I let the music major go.
Jesus said, “[M]y yoke is easy, and my burden is light” (Matt. 11:30). Is it true? In one sense, it is, because we are freed from trying to fulfill the demands of the law. But we are told that following Christ’s commands is not an easy thing, either: “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me” (Matt. 16:24). We do it because our love for Him overcomes our love for self. We do it because we have faith that He will take care of us through heart-rending choices. We do it because we have faith that He will honor our cross-bearing, perhaps in this life, but most certainly in the next. We look forward to the day when He will say, “Well done, good and faithful servant” (Matt. 25:21, 23). We do it because this is a God who loved us enough to send His own Son to bear the punishment of death in our stead, though He is perfect and we wholly deserve that punishment for our sins (Romans 5:8). We deny ourselves and take up our cross because we love Him and trust Him.
Tomorrow morning, instead of going to music classes as I had wanted, I will go to my econ lecture. I pray that God would make overwhelming the reality of the reward of honoring my parents. I pray that He would show me it was worth my tears, because honestly, I just don’t feel it yet. I ask for the faith to trust in His providence and grace. I pray that He is glorified. This decision was hard and painful, and I want to know that it was not for nothing; that it will be a pleasing sacrifice to the God I love.