By Ruth T. Reyes
She was a child prodigy leaving her homeland to follow a dream of being a concert pianist. She had lived a charmed life, performing on television and concert halls for government dignitaries and a first lady. Now she was armed with a scholarship to the prestigious Juilliard School. It was a kind of fairy-tale story, one thousands of aspiring musicians would wish for—and it actually happened to me. On my way to America, my thoughts turned to Little Jimmy Taylor’s gospel chorus “Dear Jesus Abide with Me,” which my mom would sing with me when I was facing the uncertainty of the unknown.
I was raised and baptized in a Christian home, attended church religiously, and accompanied congregational singing almost every Sunday. My normal schedule included long school days, and even longer hours of practicing as I prepared for competitions and concerts. Unfortunately, “normal” also included minimal social interaction, loneliness, and a lost childhood.
The separation from my parents at the age of 16 tore a piece from my fragile, developing heart, whose hope for stability rested on that place called home. It was a devastating situation for an introvert. In a new country, my identity now lost, I relied on my propensity to be a high achiever to kick into overdrive in order to survive. Independence, self-sufficiency, and relative success followed me, yet pain and conflict plagued my relationships. I was determined but still was lost. The theme of “life’s troubled sea” mentioned in Taylor’s chorus took on different forms. It was but a search for home.
I suppose I could say Jesus stepped into my life in a most dramatic way, taking me from the inevitable journey of inward focus and selfishness to a vibrant pursuit of his holiness and purpose. His rescue, likewise, took on several forms, but after a period of wilderness, home found me in my marriage. Home found me when I savored each moment with my grown children. It found me when I returned to my first love of knowing the surpassing worth of Jesus Christ. Home found me when I finally accepted that my identity truly rests in my Redeemer. A good story of the precocious prodigy became a better story of the wounded warrior now blessed to tell how Jesus found me!
Ruth Reyes is assistant dean of the School of Creative and Performing Arts, Johnson University Florida, Kissimmee.