What I Learned From Being in a Family Band #1

By: Micah Upham
If you haven’t heard yet, I used to play in a family bluegrass band. I was homeschooled and we traveled the country playing at a wide variety of venues including weddings, open mics, music festivals, hardware stores, and even coon clubs (yeah we went deep into the old Appalachian mountains). Sadly, the band fell apart when my oldest brother and the lead singer left for college leaving me with only the lessons I learned. This semester, I want to use this column as a place to interview students, share the lessons they have learned, and impart their wisdom to you all. But, for the first blog, I want to give an introductory “self-interview." With that being said, although you might not ever find yourself in a family bluegrass band, the key lessons I learned apply to everyone.

The first lesson I learned and relearned from my time in the band was to always have patience. I learned to play the violin by ear. That is the short way of saying that for weeks I had to practice outside before the squeals from the violin were bearable enough for my parents to let me practice in the house. Even if you have never picked up a violin, you are familiar with the squeaks and ugly sounds that life makes all the time even when you are working hard to improve. It is easy to forget why it is important to keep working through the ugly and remaining patient even when progress is not visible. God’s plan is often so deep and intricate that we can only see bits of it in hindsight and sometimes not at all. We see over and over again in the bible stories of God’s people patiently (and sometimes not so patiently) waiting for God’s promises to be fulfilled. If Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and even Jesus had to wait and be patient, we can all do it.  

The second thing I learned was what one of my professors phrased as “squeeze the juice.” This is a simple way of saying get the most out of every situation and soak it up. It is much more than being selfish in situations and getting what you want out of them. Instead, quite the opposite is true, and being selfless leads to a more deeply enjoyable life. Squeeze the juice also means that It is easy to get caught up in plans for the future and forget to live today. While it is important to look towards the future, God uses us here and now. Before we go to join him in heaven, we have work to finish here and that is done every single day. So go share your stories with other people, get to know the person who no one else is speaking to, get out of your comfort zone, and don’t forget to squeeze the juice.

The final lesson I learned is that we live for God and not man. Colossians 3:23 sums it up by saying, “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men.” Whether you are playing in a band, working at a job, or even studying for classes, we are to do it for the Lord. This might sound strange, but it is a critical mental shift. If our current calling as students is truly where God has called us, then putting our full effort behind classes will glorify God. It also means that everything is secondary to God. If you are the best student in your classes but you neglect a personal relationship with God, you have not succeeded. Part of the great challenge in college is finding a healthy balance between all the competing priorities in life. Start with God at the top and work your way down the most important priorities and do it all for the Lord, and if you haven’t tried it yet, play in a family bluegrass band and see what lessons you learn from it.

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