While visiting family recently, I happened upon my nephew while playing his saxophone. He’d snuck away from the outdoor festivities to get in a few moments of practice. The booming sound filled the entire house. When he realized he was no longer alone, he immediately put the instrument away.


"When do you get to practice?" I asked him, thinking surely his family can’t tolerate the sheer volume of that instrument for very long.


"I practice every day, but I don’t like to play in front of people, because it gets kind of messy," he informed me.


I instinctively knew that by "people" he meant, anyone other than his mom, dad, brother, and sister. He meant me.


I remember my violin instructors from childhood calling practice "woodshedding," meaning, to play a passage of music over and over out in the woodshed, where no one can hear. How my mom endured hours of my woodshedding, I’ll never know, but while I was embarrassed to play in front of strangers, I felt comfortable practicing within her ear shot. It was OK for my mom to witness my messy attempts as I struggled to learn.


We all need a space for "messy," as we struggle to evolve into better versions of ourselves. We need environments and people with which we are allowed to get it wrong, and to make the messes inherent in learning. We need this for ourselves and we need to provide this for those in relationship with us.


Relationship means not banishing those dear to us to the woodshed, as they struggle to improve, but keeping them within the sphere of understanding, giving them room to eventually get it right. I’m so thankful for the room afforded me.


"Above all, constantly echo God’s intense love for one another, for love will be a canopy over a multitude of sins." 1 Peter 4:8 The Passion Translation


Antonette Weatherly is a wife, mother and minister who lives in the Sherman area. You can find her weekly serving at Victory Life Church. She can be reached at antonetteweatherly@gmail.com.