My son sat in the kitchen working on his math homework. He was stumped and called me in for help. I picked up a pencil and talked him through the problem, explaining each step. Done! “Now, you try it,” I said. But, even though he was capable, he resisted and wanted me to do the next problem with him, too. I informed him, “the best way to learn, is to take it step by step.”
In the kids game “Candy Land” you can land on an orange square that has a path that leads to another orange square, skipping about a dozen colorful squares between. It’s a shortcut! There are days I’ve wished for an easy route through the stage that I am in, skipping what seems to me to be stagnant periods in time. Wishing for a “free pass” past the struggles to the exciting parts of the dream or goal. It can seem that I take two steps forward, and then I sit on life’s ledge and wait. I wait for opportunity. I wait for others to catch up. I wait for God to teach me how to move forward. I wait for an answer to the questions in my heart. My impatience creeps in, and I feel like Marisa Tomei’s character in the movie “My Cousin, Vinny,” when she stomps her foot and tells her longtime boyfriend that it’s time for their relationship to move forward because her “biological clock is ticking!” I want to stomp my foot and speak upward to heaven saying, “Hey! I’m only getting older down here! Won’t you let me move forward?” (I’m thankful for God’s loving patience and that he can find humor in my dramatic nature.)
When I read about Peter in the Bible I am encouraged. Here’s an impatient, sometimes hot-tempered, speaking-out-at-times-he-shouldn’t kind of guy. Jesus saw his heart and his potential. Peter had such a journey from the fisherman’s boat to become the the bold speaker preaching to the multitudes. He had to learn to listen, trust, believe, use self-control, and submit to God’s timing. He didn’t go instantly from the fishing boat to the platform. No, he watched Jesus, learned from him, and made mistakes before he was given more and more responsibility as a leader.
I’ve tended to take times of rest as if I’ve done something wrong. I’m learning that times of rest are not punishment. Times of rest are blessings; in those moments so much can be learned, rejuvenated, and creativity can grow. If we skip the times of rest, we are skipping significant stages which we need as preparation.
When I was in my twenties I thought “I can do anything I put my mind to.” In my thirties I thought, “I can do all things with Christ’s help.” Now, I know that “I can do nothing without God’s grace and a whole lot of learning.” I’ve come to realize I don’t want the shortcut, because with each step a new lesson or skill is learned that builds upon what has been and strengthens my foundation of experience for what is to come. The best way to learn, is to take it step by step and sometimes the step we are on means waiting.