One morning, I walked into my music teacher’s classroom to start my violin lesson and noticed two violins on the desk. My eye was immediately drawn to the first one, which looked new. A brand-new violin is something to behold, with gorgeous curves, a glossy, unscratched surface that shines in the light, and an engagingly twisting scroll fitted with squeaky tuning pegs.

Next to this beautiful violin freshly out of the hands of some expert violin maker was another violin. Its curves were still gorgeous, but in some places the outline was disturbed by a crack or scuff in the wood; its surface was dull and scratched; its scroll still twirled, but the pegs were surrounded by chips, and the neck was worn where years of hands had held it.

Yuck! one might think. That’s about as messed up as a violin can get without falling apart! But as my teacher told me, while new violins look perfect, it’s the old violins that sound beautiful. They’ve been bumped, clanged, dropped, forgotten. And they sound all the sweeter because of it.

A violin needs time to find its tone, to fully grow into its voice. To reach its full potential, a violin must be played for hours on end. It must be tuned and re-tuned. Its strings will snap, its bridge might slip, its pegs might come undone. But it’s all part of the process.

Sometimes I feel like I’m being endlessly bumped, clanged, dropped, and forgotten. Sometimes it feels like I’m scuffed up, chipped, and beginning to crack. There are days when my nerves snap, just like a string on my violin, and I most assuredly don’t feel beautiful. But from the seemingly never-ending succession of days, from each slip and bang, I learn. While I may not be able to compare to the flawless and beautiful, I grow and mature. And just like a century-old violin is beautiful to a violinist, I am beautiful to Jesus.

So don’t feel bad if you have a bad day or you slip up and fall. You may feel like you’re full of chips and scratches, but it’s just a part of the process that helps you to stretch and improve. Every clang and dent will leave you wiser, and your life’s melody will be the sweeter for it.