Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Don't Give Up

from March 2008

Have you ever noticed that twisting sensation when your brain bumps into something new? I have. My body tenses; my eyes squinch; my brain begins its contortions. Sometimes I hear a voice say, "You can't." At other times, I hear one calling, "Keep trying."

Learning can hurt.

I've put in my years in the classroom, so I suppose I could coast now as I require my children to take up the mantle of learning. But why give up now? Don't I have all eternity to discover my infinite God and explore the Home He has prepared for His children?

Ah, yes, I must press on.

I've already mentioned the math class I'm taking. I worked ahead of the others, so the leader suggested working on Sudoku puzzles. "Ugh," was my first thought. Since we have a little book of the puzzles, I decided to give them a shot. The first two fit together magically. I don't know what happened with the third puzzle, but the magic was definitely missing. Do you know what happens when you make it through almost an entire puzzle, only to discover you have two 4's in a row with no remedy other than to erase the 4 you especially like? My brain does those twisty things and my poor eyes, which keep lobbying for bifocals, strain. No one stands over me insisting that I master Sudoku, but I can't quit. I want to figure out the proper homes for those annoying little numbers.

Today I took the girls to drawing class. I can't draw--or so I've insisted for most of my life. The teacher thinks otherwise. To help me jump the "I can't" hurdle, she told me to sit down and join the class today. Suddenly, the familiar symptoms returned. I wanted to quit. Then I looked around the table at the children doing their work with confidence, none of them older than twelve. I knew I had to persevere--at least for the hour. Besides, some of them know me as a teacher. Can a teacher declare, "I can't"?

Somehow along the way, maybe I am developing a bit of sympathy for my own children. I have one who turns angry at the sight of difficulty. Another lets the tears flow. The third would rather play. I correct. I encourage. My desire is that they find ways to deal with the pain of learning when it appears but not with their natural responses. When it's tempting to quit, we can learn a better way--the way of prayer, patience, and perseverance. And humility. Our inability points to the ability of Another Who is faithful to refine and help us.

Toward the end of drawing class today, I silently schemed to set my drawing aside and quit. Who would know or care? Then out of the mouth of the ten-year-old babe next to me came the words: "Don't give up."

Those words ring in my ears and urge me to press on.

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