I’m continuing my series of 40 Things I’ve Learned By Age 40.
16. Not nearly as many issues are as black and white as some people want them to be and tell you that they have to be. This includes the people with all the detailed Scripture explanations, loud voices, guilt trips, pressing demands, threats, and big charts.
17. Some people, including Christians, do not want to be spiritually and/or emotionally healthy and there is NOTHING you can do to change this.
18. Children are capable of far more than our culture normally expects of them. By this I don’t mean adding more pressure to achieve to already stressed out children. I mean they are capable of being thoughtful, polite, thinking individuals.
My first year of teaching I taught at a brand new private school (Hillsdale Academy) operated by a Hillsdale College. I was green, the curriculum was still in flux, and I had a class of twelve students in the third, fourth and fifth grades who had come from all different educational backgrounds. It was hard to even know where to begin with these students, so I just made some decisions and jumped in.
The best thing I taught them that year was how to sit still and read. When the school year started, most of them could hardly sit still and focus on reading a book for more than five minutes. Each day after lunch we had quiet reading time, partially for the sanity of the teacher. As the weeks went on, the time we spent on it gradually increased.
One day they were all engrossed in their books and I decided to see how long we could go before someone would get restless, lose focus, etc. After a while I interrupted them and said, “Do you realize you have been reading for an hour?” Some of them thought it was funny, some of them looked like they had been had (in a fun way), but most of them were amazed that they were able to do that and enjoy it. I’ve often wondered how many of those children are avid readers today because of the training I gave them to learn how to read and how to read for a sustained period of time. They were certainly capable. They just needed someone to show it to them.
19. God creates us a certain way for His purposes and we find the greatest peace when we know what that is and go with it. I think I have told this story here before, but it was such an important moment for me it is worth repeating.
Several years ago, I was out for lunch at Taco Bell on a beautiful sunny day with a missionary friend. She is several years older than me and was home for a bit from her work as a nurse in Africa. At the time, I was doing campus ministry work at Michigan State University with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, mentoring students, leading a Bible study, etc. I don’t remember how the conversation got to this point, but I will never forget what was said.
I had said something about how I could never be a nurse in Africa (and I couldn’t). Ruth looked at me and said, “Sallie, I could never work with college students in a ministry.”
I was stunned. I mean, what could be easier than hanging out with college students, talking with them about spiritual things, leading a Bible study, going out for coffee, etc.? That someone would find it easier to leave her family, go to Africa, live at a certain level of deprivation to do so, etc. rather than go out for coffee and talk about the Bible with a college student was almost incomprehensible to me. And yet, it was true.
God created Ruth to do what she was doing and God created me to do what I was doing. We were each doing what we were called to do and enjoyed doing it because we were being true to how God had designed and created us.
More on this idea in another installment. 🙂
See all of the posts in this series:
- 40 Things I’ve Learned By Age 40 – #1-7
- 40 Things I’ve Learned By Age 40 – #8-15
- 40 Things I’ve Learned By Age 40 – #16-19
- 40 Things I’ve Learned By Age 40 – #20
- 40 Things I’ve Learned By Age 40 – #21-30
- 40 Things I’ve Learned By Age 40 – #31-39
- 40 Things I’ve Learned By Age 40 – #40