By: Katie Helmreich
Our ability to learn is such an incredible gift! The end of the school year is the perfect time to look back at lessons learned; this year maybe even more so, because so many of us had a more hands-on experience with our kids’ schoolwork.
My son learned to write in cursive. He learned fractions, the states and their capitals, and his multiplication tables. My eldest daughter can now create a truly impressive Google Presentation and has a far better grasp of Spanish than I expected. My three-year-old daughter learned all her colors and shapes and recently figured out how to do buttons and snaps. It’s been quite a year of growth!
It’s so much fun to witness the thrill of discovery as they master new skills!
Mastering those skills isn’t easy though, is it? “Struggle” doesn’t really do it justice. Heartrending frustration, repeated failures, unwanted advice over and over and over, tears, raised voices, broken pencil tips, eraser holes through the paper, more tears …
But in the end, success!
It’s intriguing to see how swiftly the thrill of mastery passes. So much effort goes into getting those little fingers to push a button through the hole and to tuck it around the edge so it doesn’t pop back through. It’s seriously hard work! But in no time at all, buttoning is such an ordinary skill that we don’t give it a second thought.
What are you learning these days?
Some are taking advantage of extra time to pick up new skills and techniques. I know several doing language and art courses! I’m learning to use alarms so I can keep track of what day it is and don’t accidentally leave laundry in the washing machine. Potato, pot-ah-to.
I’m also in the process of learning to keep my temper even when it’s hot and the library is closed. I’m trying to learn how to ask for help and direct my helpers graciously. I’m learning to stand firm on an unshakable God in the midst of so much unpredictability. I’m learning to extend grace to those nearest me going through so much growth themselves.
But, man, is it hard.
I haven’t mastered these skills yet. I’ve got all the heartrending frustration, repeated failures, unwanted advice, tears, raised voices, and figurative broken pencils and eraser holes.
Do you remember when you were struggling to learn what you know now?
Funny, how quickly we forget the efforts behind them.
Think back for a moment.
Those seasons of growth were no picnic. The skills and abilities that are such a part of your normal life now once took blood, sweat, and tears to accomplish. The strength cultivated in your heart grew most in the midst of your darkest hours. Truth in times of trial and tears has built trust. There were times where success, maybe even survival, seemed all but impossible. But God is faithful.
“… But we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” Romans 5: 3-5
What are you learning these days? How has the Spirit been working growth in you lately?
Don’t be discouraged. It may have been a while since you tackled something like long division or learning to tie your shoe; but even now, growth involves a lot of trial and error. Be patient with yourself. Trust that the God who called you to this task is faithful! The Spirit will work this growth in your heart and mind as you follow Jesus!
Look back at the times you have experienced learning and growth in the past and rejoice over these victories! Jane still exclaims with joy whenever she snaps the snap. It’s a big deal! Notice the skills and abilities you use today and celebrate these gifts!
Maybe you won’t shout, “nailed it!” when you’re done loading the dishwasher; but at least give yourself a little internal cheer. Look at all you’ve learned! Look at the myriad ways God is using you to bless other people! Isn’t it incredible? God has truly crafted a masterpiece for the Kingdom in you. The King has patiently loved, instructed, and encouraged you all along the way, and that won’t stop now!
Thank the Lord for dexterous hands, nimble minds, and loving hearts! And thank the Holy Spirit for the ongoing work of sanctification, granting growth and transforming suffering, slowly but surely, into hope!