Thanks A Lot Day Three comes from my sweet cousin, Erynn. I look up to her more than I can ever say. I have so many fond (hilarious) memories of her growing up, and so many things now as an adult that I want to emulate from her example. I have especially admired the grace and love she’s shown this year, for all the gratitude and faith after my sweet Aunt Donece passed. I love her very relatable words on gratitude, humility, and who gets the credit. I couldn’t help but think while reading it how proud Aunt Donece must be, smiling down on her wonderful family from Heaven, still cheering them on with their talents and through life lessons every single moment of every single day. I am so grateful for their family and for all the things they teach me. I’ll stop rambling and let Erynn’s sweet entry speak for itself:
“I think the best place to start this post on gratitude is by talking about pride. Pride is something that I struggle with every single day. I am a professional violinist, and let me tell you that all violinists are egotistical divas. And I am certainly no exception.
Learning to play any instrument makes you feel accomplished, and that feeling of accomplishment grows into self-confidence. The violin is so hard that I think learning to play with any degree of efficiency makes me feel downright cocky! When I started violin lessons at 11, I knew was good. I was recognized early on for my ability, which made me feel very special. The more I practiced, the better I became, and the more recognition and special opportunities I received. This all led me to feel still more confidence in my abilities, culminating 4 years ago when I was accepted into one of the most prestigious music programs in the country for my graduate work. By that point, my confidence was near bordering on arrogance.
During my time at graduate school, I remember sitting in a church lesson about gratitude. The teacher said that we should “receive all things with thankfulness” (D&C 78:19). I remember thinking, “Well of course I’m grateful for everything I’ve been given. But I have worked so hard and gotten myself here through sheer grit and determination!”
These are dangerous, dangerous thoughts. It is only a small step from “I made my own way” to “I’ll make my own way, and I don’t need you, Lord.” Several years later, Heavenly Father helped me change my way of thinking. I was pondering gratitude one day and the Spirit led me to realize some important truths.
God blessed me by sending me to a family where my mother and father, among other things, loved classical music. I was surrounded by music from an early age and grew to love it as a little girl.
God blessed me with a father who was willing to sacrifice so much time with his family in order to provide for us. Because of that, we had the money to pay for expensive violin lessons, after-school programs, and to purchase my instrument. Without his sacrifice, I would not have been afforded the opportunity to study violin.
God blessed me with a beautiful mother who loved and supported me through every step of my journey. She took me to and from lessons each week, practiced by my side for years, and came to every performance. Without her loving support, I may not have continued with my lessons when I became disheartened or discouraged.
God blessed me with scholarships in school so I didn’t have to work in order to provide for myself. I then had much more time to dedicate to practicing and honing my craft, which allowed me to dream big.
God blessed me to get into my wonderful graduate program. Because of the connections I made there, I have been able to create job opportunities for myself that simply would not have been possible otherwise.
I remember thinking in dismay after realizing this, “But don’t I get some credit? Yes, all these things created the fertile soil for me to grow into a professional violinist, but I’m the one who took the initiative and actually did the work!”
I could almost see Christ gently smile and shake his head. “No, Erynn, there is no credit. But you can thank me for the privilege of mastering your violin and coming to love music so much in your life.”
So I thanked him for all of these blessings and more.
Now, a little humbler, I am able to truly receive all things with thankfulness. I can see that everything I have become, and everything I will yet become is because of Him. Even my mortal life and my physical body all combine to afford me the opportunity to learn and become the best woman I can. More than learning to be a violinist, I have been granted the unspeakably marvelous gift to learn and become like my Savior, Jesus Christ. God has blessed myself, and each of us, with Great Plan of Happiness, which was created for us to learn, to grow, and to, one day, return to live with Him. Christ provided the Atonement so I may be forgiven for my mistakes and improve myself from good to better each day. I am so thankful for the privilege of living my life here on Earth so I may one day live forever with my family, with Christ, and with my Father in Heaven in joy and thanksgiving.
No, there is no credit. Only gratitude. And for that, I am truly grateful.”