Saturday, August 18, 2012

Letting it grow on you...

They walked into the class and took a seat.  Twenty or so minutes had already gone by and my husband was well into the topic of the day.  I didn't recognize them from the first session, but then again, I hadn't had a chance to get to know most of the people that had signed up for that particular marriage course.  About fifteen minutes later, she whispered to her husband who had been sitting and listening, and out they both went. Later I found out that she felt confused and lost, didn't understand what was being taught, handed back their workbooks and demanded their money back.  So much for the Succeed in Marriage course for them.

There is probably much more to their story than just feeling out of place, but it reminded me of what can distinguish people who learn, from people who remain stuck in their ruts.  This goes beyond school or the courses that we offer, just life in general. Funny how common sense, logical conclusions can make all the difference.

If I want to learn, I have the choice to tell myself:

  • Showing up on time always helps, but even if I don't, there's a good chance that I might eventually catch the drift of what's going on if I'm patient.
  • If a large number of other people have benefitted from learning this, there is a good chance that I may benefit as well.
  • Learning to fix a serious and ongoing problem (like a marriage, or a broken relationship with God) will require the use of tools and approaches that I probably have not yet considered.
  • This fix will also require that I put aside my preconceived assumptions and listen first before judging.
  • If I don't get it the first time around, I have the option to ask questions and seek out specific advice
  • The fact that I don't quite get what's being explained is not a personal attack on my intelligence.  In  other words - I'm not stupid because I don't understand, and I can't assume that others see me as stupid either.
  • My problem already humiliates me - what's the harm in humbling myself to learn how to solve it?
  • I traveled long and far to get here, I paid, and I'm sticking around to really see if this will help me!

Learning new information or a new teaching is rarely like a giant light bulb that switches on in your head - a blast of illumination.  It's more like a creeping moss that grows on you over time.  First it's strange and different, then after you hear or read about it a while, your imagination begins to piece together how it could function for you.  Then real life situations unfold that present the chance to test out this information, and know for sure if it's true and viable.  Only then does it really make sense.  And even so, this new revelation can easily be forgotten over time and with plenty of distractions.  The moss can recede. That truth will need to be reinforced and rediscovered many times over to really stick.

A group of young ladies, eager to be inspired, rushed to buy the book that had been recommended.  A week later they gave me their scathing review.  "Mrs. Evelyn, it was weeeeeiiiirrrd.  I didn't like it at all.  It was boring."

"No," I reply, "it's very deep, you have to give it some time."  But their heads were already shaking in disagreement.  Conclusion: if they, of sound mind and stellar intelligence, deem a book to be weird, it is therefore weird for eternity, no matter what anyone older or more experienced may tell them.

*Sigh*  I remember that I have been just as guilty of using the same logic on others - what goes around comes around!

So though our impulses look for the lightbulb, those rare moments of brilliant inspiration.  But when they happen they are often found at the tail and of a long slow period of looking, seeking, and asking.  A lot of asking.  Lightbulbs are fun, exciting and flashy, but the wise know how to let things grow on them.  Like moss.

For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. Matthew 7:7

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