I am an impatient person. I like to see results now, instead of later. And if I don’t see those results? Well, there is this little voice that says “Maybe it is not meant to be. I am not good enough. It is time to give up and play it safe.”
When I was around twelve, I began mowing the lawn. I was excited. I had the chance of pushing this mower around creating a finely cut yard. I had begged my dad and finally he allowed me the honor, but it didn’t take long for me to realize it wasn’t that much of an honor. I forgot to take in the elements—the heat, the gas vapors that I smelled on my shirt, and the dirt and various insects flying out from under the mower’s power and sticking to me. Pretty soon I was eyeing the drivable mowers in the store and pointing them out to my dad, because even though I managed to make less than perfect lines when I mowed, he still would put me to the task every now and then. Even worst, he would make me start over if I mowed crooked, making the task even longer.
Finally at fourteen, my mowing duties stopped, but it wasn’t because I mowed crooked lines. I couldn’t start the engine. At the time, our mower had seen a lot of action including our cross-country moves, so waking it up took a little arm effort. I would yank the cord a few times and nada. Nothing. My dad would eventually start the engine and I would go on making my lines, but one day my dad had enough with starting the engine for me. “You will not be able to do anything else until you start the mower. You just need to yank it harder. Anyone can do that.”
I decided that I could not. So I walked around. Watched our neighbor’s kids play. Drank some water and told my neighbor that I was resting when questioned. An hour later, my dad walked out and started it for me. I haven’t mowed since. At the time, I told myself it was because I didn’t really want to mow, which was partially true. Yet, I was also ashamed that I could not start it and believed that maybe I couldn’t. What if I really gave it the effort that my dad asked of me and I still couldn’t start the engine? In my fourteen year old mind, it would have made me a failure. It would have proved that I was weak. So I quit.
No Positive Results = Failure
As the years pasted, I continued to exhibit that attitude of “No apparent results, equals not good enough.” My mom once told me “Life obstacles are not easily fixed with a microwave solution. It takes work.” I want to say that I have adopted my mom’s words as the motto of my life. But no . . . I continue to struggle with completing things when it gets rough or there seems to be no results I can take comfort in. Others are better than me, so why try?
Should I quit Running?
Today I ran twelve miles, but it might as well have been twenty or thirty. I thought about all the reasons I DID Not want to run today. I thought about all the people sleeping at six on a Saturday morning. I thought about how I did not like running in the dark. I thought about the noticeable shrinking of our running group due to injuries, travel, and deciding not to do the marathon after all. I thought about how my ankle and my knees were probably hurting more than usual. I thought about how I seemed to be the youngest person out here, but yet I was the one struggling to catch my breath with every step. I thought about being constantly tired from being on my feet all day teaching and then running for more than an hour. . . I thought is this even worth it? At least I thought about doing a marathon. Most people wouldn’t even give it a second of a consideration. I could say I had a knee injury, or say something about this being the wrong time in my life . . .
But Then Again . . .
The most inconspicuous tasks usually are building big things we can’t see yet.
Eventually, our minutes and days equal our lives.
I think in twenty years, we will regret more of the things we didn’t do than things we did imperfectly.
These quotes are from Restless, a Bible study, I am currently reading. They’re powerful words. Words that I need to live by because they are true, and I see the reflection of them in my life when God is trying to get my attention.
Last year, I thought was a disastrous first year of teaching. As I surveyed my bruised colored white boards, the blackened floors from pencils and dirty shoes, the battered textbooks resting on the shelves, and various sorts of paperwork peeking out of crammed full drawers, I thought “I am glad it is over. I need to forget about this year and its atrocities.” I was pretty sure I had convinced more students about the cons of reading than the benefits of it.
I came back this year thinking if I am not half as good Morgan Freeman’s character in Lean on Me than it is a sign that I need to quit being a teacher. I came back and I saw my former students, turned 7th graders. I was surprised at how many visited my classroom or stopped me to have a conversation about their current life; the challenge of 7th grade; making sport teams; the hottest music and books out; or asking me to check their work before they turn it in.
My prayer last year was for God to use me in my student’s lives. I was thinking along the terms of having my students with the best state scores and enjoying reading to the fullest. I was thinking about growing into the teacher with the immaculate classroom with smiling, hardworking students who are always engaged in the lessons presented (I mean that was my secret kid dream). But God has better plans and a purpose for me. Maybe it is listening to a former student share their worries with me. I shouldn’t quit just because there are those better than me, or I make mistakes, and the odds of me starting the engine on the first three tries are bleak. A truly meaningful life is not lived on microwave solutions. And as 2 Corinthians 12:9 says, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”
There is no giving up, but getting up and moving forward.