Each day contains innumerable occasions for lessons and surprises, especially in a house with growing children. It is the little moments that make life worthwhile, yet too often we get carried away with the stress and worry of checking off everything on our "To Do" list. When we focus on simply getting things done, we miss out on golden opportunities to observe, discover, learn and experience so many wonderful things. I struggle (and have for many years) with knowing when to be firm with the schedule and when to let things slide a bit so as to enjoy life. I have always wanted to have a plan, and a solid one at that. Over the past few years, I have lessened my grip on controlling every aspect of my life. (College helped a lot with that.) Now, in my work with children, I am discovering more and more that life is full of surprises and unexpected changes in plan. Thankfully, rather than spiraling because my carefully-laid plans have changed (slightly or drastically), I focus (most of the time) on the unexpected happiness or silver lining to be found within the unforeseen alterations. A few examples from today may suffice for explanation.
While going through the schoolwork with one child, I was explaining verbs from the English book. We were only supposed to complete one lesson (which I would have been perfectly content to do), but the child was driven by some force or other to continue on and complete above and beyond the work required for today's lesson. While I was a bit surprised (since schooling is generally a "get it done and over with" type of activity), I was genuinely pleased to see such a keen interest in the child. She flew through the exercises, and I glimpsed a thirst for knowledge that struck me very hard. While she may not have understood completely why she wanted to do more work, I know that it stems (at least partially) from that innate thirst within us all to know the truth and to learn all we can so as to draw closer to our Creator. If only that thirst would burst forth when we were studying math. ;) Taking this instance, however, we can first understand our desire for knowledge, and then we may begin to call it forth as a means of encouragement and persuasion when faced with a task undesirable. In my case, these disagreeable tasks mainly revolve around teaching/learning math and studying for exams (which are done for the time being). Yet I understand the importance of learning and receiving a well-balanced education; therefore, I strive harder to pursue equally well that which I enjoy and that which I must do. No person likes everything they must do, yet they should do it anyways. A child who hates math must still learn the concepts because they are essential to their education. In life, there are things we must do, whether it is studying in school, working through a drudge job, or (most importantly) sacrificing our own selfish wants and desires for the path of God. I have found, through my experience, that it becomes easier to accomplish an undesired task when you remember the real reason behind whatever it is. Basically, when we remember that God is in control and that all of our actions should be for His glory, we can better offer up our own sufferings for the good of others.
Not all learning experiences are difficult or painful. Today I witnessed the true joy of "practice makes perfect" as a little one-year-old girl walked (or stumbled) about the room. Whenever she fell down, she got back up again. Now that she knows the joy of walking, crawling is a lesser option. She would rather struggle to remain on two feet rather than crawl about on her hands and knees. The happiness that glows in her face from this accomplishment is a beautiful sight. As she toddles around, I reflect on that joy and recollect that we should approach all of our lessons with the same attitude. The more one must work for an end, the more fulfilling the success becomes. If only we remembered this when faced with a tough exam or a problem at work, perhaps we could become better people and create a happier world. So treasure the lessons to be learned each day, and do not cast aside those taught by even the smallest of children. For in God's eyes, we are all His children. If we can regain the innocence and trust of a little child, we can accomplish anything through God Who strengthens us.