I took a tumble in the yard and dislocated the ring finger on my left hand. It was all askew. Grotesque, …actually. I thought it was broken, but Stephen saw it was dislocated, grabbed it and put it back into place. Not a happy thing, but even more disheartening, because I am preparing a series of classical piano concerts–the first one is in less than a month.
My hand feels foreign after the trauma, and my finger is quite awkward and definitely slow. Still swollen, still bruised. But, if you’re going to mess up a finger and still try to play the piano, the ring finger on the left hand is definitely the one to choose….you can work around it.
I’m working on Beethoven’s Pathetique Sonata–which I learned originally when I was 13. With all the shortcuts and bad habits 13 year-olds will develop. I used particularly bad fingering when I originally learned it, but years later did the right thing and spent a lot of time fixing the fingering. It took a long time to unlearn those bad habits, but worth the effort. I rued my youthful mistakes, but worked through them. I’ve performed the piece several times since then.
While practicing earlier today, I kept stumbling through a part that really didn’t use my traumatized finger at all. I kept focusing on my left–the injured hand–thinking something was happening there to throw everything off. Of course, it all felt awkward and a bit painful, but the stumbling was happening in my right hand. The un-injured one. Finally, I realized that my right hand had reverted to my 13-year-old bad fingering. That I hadn’t used in decades. Decades. Yowza.
Definitely took me sideways for a bit. I shared with Stephen, and in his shrink voice, he said…”of course.” And that’s all he said.
Then it hit me hard. This reversion to bad ways of doing things was a physical analogy of what happens emotionally and spiritually with most of us when “trauma” happens in one part of our lives. Hang with me here. Many times when difficulties come, we revert to bad habits that we carelessly picked up over the years. Things that feel comfortable, but we know aren’t good. But they feel….comfortable. Over eating, Over drinking. Over internetting. Over watching TV. Over shopping. Over exercising. Whatever it is that calls our name that isn’t right. That isn’t God. That isn’t holy. That isn’t part of the life abundant we have been promised. That we know better than to do. I was staring at my hands in their dysfunction, and waves of truth kept coming.
I have been perplexed about the “reason” my finger is messed up less than a month before giving a concert. I’m giving most of them in churches, for Pete’s sake. And one of them is raising money for a great cause. I had felt that these were God-breathed events. But my finger is black, blue, green and yellow and feels like an alien attached to my regular pianist’s hands.
I still haven’t figured it out, but I’m learning a lot in the midst.
I’m going to go and ice my left hand, re-learn some fingering in my right hand, and ponder and pray. And take another look at Romans 7:15…
I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.
NOTE: Stephen and Tammie are also missionaries, which means they raise their own support to enable them to care for their missionary “flock”. If you would like to know more about them, contact them or even support their work CLICK HERE.