Saturday, August 6, 2011

One step at a time

When Jake was in 2nd grade part of the curriculum was that all students pass timed addition and subtraction tests by the end of the school year.  The point being to assess whether they had learned and memorized their math facts or if they were still figuring out each fact on their hands.  Although I knew Jake had memorized his math facts he continually failed these tests and often by large margins.  We decided to work on his math at home.  I had a math-it curriculum from when I was homeschooling him which was essentially a timed math game.  He had cards with the math problems on them and a board with the answers and was supposed to lay them all down in a minute.  I watched my totally capable son choke under the pressure of the ticking clock many times.  I could see he just didn't believe he could finish in 1 minute and was panicking.  I realized I needed to prove to him it could be done.  I took the cards started the timer and calmly and slowly laid out all the cards finishing just before the timer went off.  His first comment, "you didn't hurry."  Nope, there is plenty of time.  He finished faster than I did the next time and passed his timed tests at school with ease.  In the panic of believing he couldn't finish on time he wasn't actually focusing on the task but dwelling on its impossibility.

I have thought of this many times over the years, having done this many times and seen many people do this in their lives.

When I was at home I would feel overwhelmed with all the responsibilities before me.  My house needed to be cleaned but simultaneously I was home to care for and nurture my children who wanted to play with me.  Dinner would need to be made soon , what should I make?  Plus church called asking me to organize the next potluck and my girlfriend's life is falling apart so she wants to go have coffee.  And now my husband car broke down so I need to stop everything to go get him and we will spend money we don't have to repair it.  With all those tasks to perform it is easy to believe that there is not enough time to complete everything and start to panic.  It has landed me on the couch staring at the walls many times.

What I finally figured out is that, like Jake and his timed tests, the secret isn't in going faster, it is to just keep moving.  Many afternoons I would lay on the couch and tell myself to get up and do everything which led to me doing nothing.  When I finally started telling myself to get up and do one thing, go do the laundry, and do it at any slow pace I wanted I was able to get up.  When I was done I would decide to do one more thing and one more and pretty soon I had done all I needed to do in less time that I had anticipated.

A body in motion stays in motion.  Once I lay down it is hard to get back up but once I get back up it is much easier to just keep plodding forward one step at a time.

Now that I am working I see this truth even there.  I noticed one day I had several things left an hour before the end of the day.  I wanted to say I didn't have time to complete them all and sort of slack off but instead I just kept going.  I didn't know if I would finish but I was going to see how much I could do.  Even when there was only 10 minutes left I began my final task unsure I would finish.  Turns out that task only takes me 8 minutes because I found myself staring at the clock the last 2 minutes of the day with nothing to do.

I would say here that life is not a race but I Paul actually uses that analogy to tell us it is a race. Still the one who wins the race doesn't just fly forward in a panic but runs very specific and intentionally putting one foot in front of the other.  Paul also tells us to press on:

"I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.  Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it.  But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus."
Ephesians 3:12-14

Forget what is behind you just get up and start pressing forward today.  One step at a time.

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