Several nights this week, I have found myself shooing my children off my bed so I could go to sleep. Somehow, my bed is their favorite homework hangout. Honestly, I'm not sure if the problem is procrastination or massive amounts of homework. Either way, I’m tired of my kids camping out on my bed, staying up late, and trying to finish their assignments!
One night, my daughter was struggling with her math homework. She has these online assignments wherein getting full credit for the assignment requires getting a certain percentage of questions correct. The unfortunate part is it that if you are not careful, and you make a mistake, your percentage correct goes down exponentially. You then must complete several more problems to bring it up. Thus, it requires meticulous attention to detail and doing your best with every single problem. That night ended in utter frustration as we sent her bed, very late and tired, as she was trying to get out of the hole from previous careless mistakes.
The next day I was stricken with the irony when she came home with her end of grade scores from the 5th grade. (Yes, I know we are halfway through 6th grade and she is finally getting her scores from 5th grade! Gotta love education bureaucracy!) I was blown away by the fact that she obtained a perfect score on the math end of grade test! (I know you're not supposed to brag about your kids but I am so very proud of her.) When it mattered, she could stay on task and ace the test. Yet, she had endured several sleep-deprived nights because did not pay attention to details to complete homework. Not fun for anyone in the house.
Later this week at work, I encountered one of my patients who is an articulate, accomplished educator. He was sharing with me all the accolades he had received concerning teaching awards and student achievement. He is truly brilliant. And, he chooses to invest his time in developing his students. How amazing! Yet, when I asked him about his health and how he was managing his long-standing diabetes, he said he had fallen off the wagon. When I saw his labs 24 hours later, I realized he wasn't lying. His diabetes was raging out of control. He was investing 100% effort in teaching his students, yet he was ignoring his health to the detriment of his body. I wondered why he had compartmentalized that part of his life. Why didn’t his health get the same effort as his teaching?
Then, the next night, my boys were engaging in creative play with their block sets. (Yes, I am referring to the little wooden blocks, like the kind you have in any kindergarten classroom.) It’s amazing how creative kids can be when they lose their electronics privileges! In a matter of about an hour, they built an extraordinary obstacle course for their Hot Wheel cars. Unfortunately, however, the course was built in the middle of the hall, and you could not walk between the bedrooms. Just before bedtime, I asked them to put away the blocks. When I went upstairs to tuck them in, they had gathered up most of the blocks (I only tripped over two), but instead of putting them in the bin where they go, they had dropped them in the middle of their bedroom floor. Needless to say, they had to get up and complete the tidying task. Why they could not put the same meticulous effort into putting blocks away that they did into building the course, I could not understand!
These experiences have led me to ponder our uncanny ability to do our best at some things and then to “just get by” with others. I was reminded of our call as Believers to do our best in all things. The verses I memorized as a kid came flooding back to me.
Whatever the activity in which you engage, do it with all your ability, because there is no work, no planning, no learning, and no wisdom in the next world where you’re going. (Ecclesiastes 9:10)
Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ. (Colossians 3:23-24)
I want to inspire my kids and my patients to do their best in all things. I was feeling much like a failure based on the experiences of the week. Then, last night, we walked to dinner at a local restaurant. My oldest daughter was jabbering (incessantly) about friends, school, dance, summer camp, etc. It was like a stream of consciousness, and I was savoring with every word. At some point in the soliloquy, she mentioned encouraging a friend about an upcoming test. She said, “Mom, you know, I just told her to do what I do. I say a prayer before every test and ask God to help me do my best. Then, I just give the test to Him. If it’s my best, that’s enough no matter what the outcome.”
Ok. She gets it. At least on that point. Maybe I’m not failing so badly after all!
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