I thought I had hit my stride on treating myself well and working out and it all goes so well… until I get tired, until I get bored, until I get sick, until until until… I have so many excuses about not doing things that make me feel GOOD once I’ve done them. All these road bumps get discouraging. No wonder as Christians we have seasons to focus on consistently doing things that don’t always provide immediate gratification.
I’ve been doing a lot of things lately that don’t necessarily lead to finished products. That is hard for me. I thrive on a syllabus system= do items 1, 2, and 3 within this timeline and you get an A! then that’s done and you move on to the next class… but of course the syllabus isn’t usually where most of the real learning happens.
My son is going through the process of acquiring language which not only means I’ve become more careful about what I say around him, it also means that I get to watch him struggle with and both delight and break down over this HUGE learning jump. The excitement of a new word, he frustration over not being able to communicate what he wants or when we misunderstand or the silence when he needs space to process and has had enough for now. Sometimes you can see him focusing really hard on a new word and we work on it with him, and other times life is the best teacher and out the new vocabulary comes, seemingly from nowhere. And what blows me away is that, unlike learning to walk which is a huge milestone and then checkmark done, this will be a lifelong process. He’ll never be done learning language. I will never be done learning language. The wonder over that is part of my Shakespeare obsession.
And it’s dawned on me recently that it’s the same with the fruits of the spirit. We never reach a place where we get to say “Whew! passed my final on gentleness. That was a tough one. glad I have that A on my transcript” (and all the non-school obsessed readers who have already achieved this wisdom are surely saying DUH!) We will always be learning about self-control and kindness and how to better love each other and ourselves and our God. There will be times of HUGE spurts of growth and other times where we feel like we are working SO HARD and no new vocabulary is coming out, or where people misunderstand us, or where we just want to throw a tantrum and scream and cry. But if we want to, there will always be more to learn, more riches to discover. If we are intentional then the effort is more or less consistent, even when we may not realize it, but the results aren’t always predictable.
Those tantrums though… that’s where I’m living right now. Both with my toddler and my spiritual life.But just like my son, I have my favorite books that are encouraging me to learn these new things and I know that in the long run, we’ll both come out of the next few years with some skills that may seem perfectly normal to the world at large because they forgot how hard it was to learn in the first place. So here’s to lent, language, and a lifetime of learning.