Per­se­ver­ance Pays Off

Activated - - NEWS - By Jes­sica Roberts

Any mother who’s tried to get her tod­dler to sit still long enough to fin­ish a meal can tell you about chil­dren’s short at­ten­tion spans, but there are also mo­ments when they’re driven to learn a new skill, such as pick­ing up a small ob­ject with chubby lit­tle fin­gers, or crawl­ing, or walk­ing. Th­ese new skills re­quire a huge amount of con­cen­tra­tion and ef­fort—and a great deal of time, com­pared to the child’s short life up to that point. They also put de­mands on mus­cles that are just be­gin­ning to learn co­or­di­na­tion and are barely strong enough to sus­tain the child’s weight.

When I re­cently moved to a new coun­try, I went through a dif­fi­cult time of ad­just­ment. I threw my­self into vol­un­teer work, but I felt I wasn’t very good at it. For ex­am­ple, I chan­neled my en­ergy into a toy-and-book drive for needy fam­i­lies, but when it was slow in tak­ing off, I grew dis­cour­aged and felt like giv­ing up.

One day I was play­ing with a co­worker’s baby, Rafael, who was try­ing to crawl. He’d start by push­ing him­self up on shaky arms and even­tu­ally get up on all fours, but then he’d get stuck. No mat­ter how much he rocked or wig­gled, he couldn’t get any closer to a toy just out of his reach. He did man­age to scoot him­self back­wards, but that only moved him far­ther from his goal. Even­tu­ally, he looked at me with Pick me up! writ­ten in frus­tra­tion on his lit­tle fea­tures.

I could sym­pa­thize, as I felt just as frus­trated in my new sit­u­a­tion. I knew, though, that all that strug­gling was strength­en­ing his mus­cles and teach­ing him about his body. So I picked him up and en­cour­aged him a bit, but then put him back on the floor to try again. He’d have to learn to crawl on his own; I couldn’t do it for him.

Sud­denly I re­al­ized how like Rafael I was. I’d been strug­gling, try­ing to fit into a new job, pick up a new lan­guage, and fa­mil­iar­ize my­self with a new cul­ture, and my nat­u­ral re­ac­tion had been to look up to Je­sus and say Pick me up! Save me from this! But He knows that this time of learn­ing, dif­fi­cult as it may be, will make me stronger. Even though His love is al­ways there to cheer me on, I have to do the work. I have to per­se­vere. If Rafael could keep it up, so could I!

Rafael is now hap­pily crawl­ing and start­ing to pull him­self up to stand. I’m also tak­ing baby steps in learn­ing new skills and broad­en­ing my hori­zons. I know we’ll both be up and run­ning be­fore long.

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