I am sure most (if not all) of us can relate to the following story…
Twenty-five young teenagers are sitting at their desks in the classroom, minds focused on anything and everything except the complex algebra problem their teacher is writing on the board. Suddenly, their reverie is broken by the word of the teacher: “I need a volunteer to come to the board and solve this simple binomial equation.” Immediately, students become deeply involved with books under their desks. Pencils suddenly drop to the floor. Eyes become engrossed on a page, any page, in textbooks. No one dares look at the teacher. “Jerry, what about you?” asks the teacher. “I know you can do it.”
Jerry’s heart sinks to the bottom of his new high-top shoes. “Why me?” he thinks. “I can’t do this. I’ll be humiliated in front of everybody. I can’t do this. That teacher has it out for me for no reason.” Jerry rapidly sorts through his medical file of excuses: bad back, flu, torn hamstring muscle, chalk allergy, dentist appointment. None seem appropriate. Jerry slowly drags himself to the board. “Come on, Jerry. I’ll be up here with you,” encourages his teacher. “We’ll go through this together.”
We have all been there. We have convinced ourselves beyond a shadow of a doubt that we can’t do something. There is no possible way! We can’t do it and we can come up with at least one very good reason as to why we can’t. We can be our own worst enemies.
If it is not enough that we are telling ourselves we can’t do something, we have a cacophony of other voices that are more than willing to chime in and tell us we can’t do something.
The other day, I was putting Eliana (my three-year-old granddaughter) down for a nap. She asked, “Pappy, what is your favorite color?” I responded, “Ellie, I like purple.” She quickly responded, “You can’t like purple. That can’t be your favorite color.” “Well, why not Ellie?” I asked, “Why can’t I like purple?” “Purple is a girl’s color. Only girls can like pink and purple,” she said.
I know for a fact that Eliana has not been taught this binary rule; there are certain things that boys like and certain things that girls like and the lines cannot be blurred. Where did she come up with this way of thinking?
There are many voices out there in chorus telling us we can’t… for whatever reason. And as a result, we don’t and often fall short of our full potential.
Emmelia (my almost 7 year-old granddaughter) just recently learned how to ride a two wheeler. I had her out in the church parking lot on an unusually warm January Saturday. She was sure she couldn’t do it. I reassured her, “Pappy is right here beside you. I won’t let go until I feel you can do it. And no matter what, I am here to help you and catch you if necessary." That was all the reassurance she needed. In a matter of minutes she mastered riding that bike.
Just like the teacher who encouraged young Jerry as he made his way to the chalk board, I am right here beside you. We will do this together.
I don’t think we fully appreciate the power we have; the power to build up and encourage, and the power to limit and tear down. We don’t appreciate the impact we have on the lives of others.
Jesus says in His Sermon on the Mount, “Remember, you are salt and you are light.” You have the power to make a difference in the lives of others who are struggling in this world and/or who are seeking purpose and meaning for their lives.
I like the way Dr. Fred Craddock explains this.
Dr. Fred Craddock tells of serving as a chaplain for a week at a rural hospital in Georgia. It was a small hospital. During that week, a baby was born. Craddock noticed a crowd of people looking through the glass to the room where the tiny infant lay. He asked one of them about the child’s gender and its name. He was told it was a girl, Elizabeth.
Then he found the young father leaning against a wall. Craddock congratulated him on a beautiful baby. They could see Elizabeth through the glass, squirming, and red faced. She was so red-faced, Craddock was concerned that the young father might think that something was the matter. He explained to the young man that Elizabeth wasn’t sick. “It’s good for babies to scream and do all that,” he said. “It clears out their lungs and gets their voices going.”
The young father said, “Oh, I know she’s not sick.” Then he added, “But she’s mad as hell.” When he realized who he was talking to the young man said, “Pardon me, Reverend.”
Craddock said, “That’s all right. Why’s she mad?”
The father said, “Well, wouldn’t you be mad? One minute you’re with God in heaven, and the next minute, you’re in Georgia!”
Craddock said, “You believe she was with God before she came here?”
The young father said, “Oh, yeah.”
Craddock said, “Do you think she will remember?”
This young father said, “Well, that’s up to her mother and me. It’s up to the church. We’ve got to see that she remembers, ‘cause if she forgets, she’s a goner.”
People are ‘goners’ when they listen to all those voices telling them that they can’t, that they will never amount to anything good, that they are unworthy.
We have a very important calling as followers of the Christ. We are to be salt and light to others. We are to build up and to build bridges. We are to help each other and remind each other who we are, children of the Most High! Constantly remembering ourselves as we tell others… YOU CAN DO IT BECAUSE I (GOD) AM RIGHT HERE BESIDE YOU AND THERE IS NOTHING WE CAN’T DO TOGETHER.
Photo by rpphotos