Prompt: What is the hardest thing you have ever experienced?
I thought long and hard about the answer to this question, but I came to two conclusions: first, I am EXTREMELY blessed, and secondly, I could only think of one story that fits the description of the hardest experience, and if I couldn't think of any other one, than I guess that's a great sign to share it.
It all started in the late fall of my 7th grade year. I was the "band geek" who played three instruments and was in more bands and music groups than anyone thought was humanly possible. My friends, my family, and I were all happy and proud of my achievements, but I heard about an excellent opportunity that became my big musical goal at the time: The University of Colorado Middle School Honor Band. So many of the older kids in 8th grade were auditioning and entering this band, and it was my dream to be one of the musicians that made it in.
One day, my school band director and favorite teacher, signed me up as a candidate for going to a recording studio in Boulder so that I could audition for the CU Middle School Honor Band. He gave me all of the audition requirements for bass clarinet, and all I had to do was buy a music book at my local music store, and practice up until I felt like I could earn a doctorate on the piece. So, I practiced for weeks, right up to the day where I got in my director's pick up truck with my bass clarinet and a few friends who were also auditioning, and drove to the recording studio in Boulder, CO.
At the time, I was nervous, excited, and jittery at the thought that this 30 minute audition in front of my director, my friends, and recording studio producers, playing into a microphone for the judges at the University of Colorado to hear could make or break my dream of entering this honor band I had been dreaming about for months.
When it came to be my turn to audition, I started to play, and all of a sudden, I realized that one of my keys was not working, and I simply could not play the piece well at all. My director tried to help me fix it, the producers gave me suggestions, and we tried every solution possible, and the bass clarinet would just not play the way that it was supposed to. It was absolutely embarrassing and humiliating that I would not be able to audition or play in the middle school honor band that year. My director had one more suggestion which was to take it in to the repair shop that night and later that week, I could go back to the studio and try to audition again. So I did just that.
I practiced a couple times more on the day that I got my instrument back from the shop to make sure I would be able to audition. It worked just fine, and an ounce of hope still remained, until...
On the day that I went back to the studio, I was well-practiced and ready-to-go for my audition. I was still upset that it wasn't working the other day, but I tried to forget about it and just play the audition piece to get it over with. All of a sudden, again, my bass clarinet simply would not work. Once more, I tried every solution, praying the entire time, "Please, please, please, I simply must audition! Please make it work!"
But at the end of the day, I was absolutely devastated. I didn't get to audition that day. It was possibly the most devastating moment of my life, when after trying absolutely everything I could, I still didn't get to audition.
My mom took me out to eat at one of my favorite restaurants, and everyone in my family reassured me that everything would be all right, but nothing seemed to make me feel better. On the way home that night, as I was talking to my mom about how disappointed I was, my mom gasped and said, "Hayley, look!" The van's headlights were perfectly positioned so that I could see a big and gorgeous Great-Horned Owl resting on a city sign. This isn't the exact picture, but it's very similar to my memory of what it looked like:
The next year, I went back to the recording studio to audition, and I was accepted as Bass Clarinet second chair in the CU Middle School Honor Band. When I auditioned for the Longmont Youth Symphony Orchestra a couple years later, the conductor saw that I had been a member of the honor band, and I was accepted as a bass clarinetist in the orchestra (and I didn't even have to open my bass clarinet case to audition).
I hope this was an encouraging story for you, even though it wasn't exactly a happy story. Remember that God has great plans for you, and rejoice in Him always.
Question for the Reader: What do you think about owls?
"Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!" --Philippians 4:4