Written by: Amy Dalke
Luke started third grade last week.
And while I complained in late July about the encroaching end of summer, the first day of school felt like my birthday or something.
It was that good.
Thankfully, Luke had a great day, too. He came home eager to tell me how awesome third grade is going to be.
Reading. Listening. Analyzing. Deciphering. Processing. Luke would prefer to stay inside the boundaries of his comfort zone, which doesn’t require him to stretch a mental muscle. Because if it’s hard, he might fail. (Remind me to tell you some day about the time he cried when he made an 88 on a math test, convinced he was going to fail second grade.) (We have neurotic fears AND obsessive compulsive issues in this household, people.)
He walked in the door on Wednesday afternoon, promptly tossed his backpack on the bench, and grabbed a Gatorade out of the refrigerator. Because I’m clean-eating and whole foods focused and all, I tossed him a bag of Nacho Cheese Doritos as he sat down at the kitchen counter, and I asked him, “What was your favorite thing about school today?”
He grudgingly replied, “Recess. You know that already.”
At that point, I mentally scrolled through that list of questions I found on Pinterest..the ones moms should ask to get deeper answers from their kids.
I took the follow-up question approach: “What was it that you liked about recess?”
Luke, who had apparently not read the same script, replied, “Kickball.”
(Have I ever mentioned that this boy-child is just as wordless as his father?) So I decided to use the same fruitless approach that I use with Larry: I kept up the line of questioning in a determined attempt to pull more syllables out of his head.
“What about the actual school stuff…did you learn anything new?”
“Yes,” Luke emphatically confirmed, “I learned that third grade is going to be hard. And I have decided that I’m going to play in the MLB instead. Because baseball players don’t have to go to college.”
Well, alrighty, then.
(It was then that I realized Pinterest lists are pointless…)
I would like to say that a life-shaping discussion ensued, one in which I shared with Luke about how life is not easy, and so on.
I did manage to brilliantly reply with something like, “…well, MLB or college. Either way is a lot of hard work.”
But if you know an eight year old boy, you realize that Luke caught none of that last part. He had already moved on to another subject.
Our conversation stuck with me through the evening, and I kept thinking about hard things, trials, obstacles…anything that requires me to go through pain of any kind, whether that be mental or emotional or physical.
Luke and I aren’t too different in our tendency to do everything we possibly can to avoid hard situations.
I will choose the easy route, over the refinement process any day.
I don’t want things to upset my comfortable life.
Given the opportunity, I would choose the option that doesn’t require soul-gutting conversations with God, or analysis of my priorities.
Don’t mess with my priorities. I’ve got that part down: God, family, work, right? (Ha. I finally get that I never really got that.)
I would choose to avoid any kind of sickness, loss, or other major life upheaval that would cause distress or discomfort.
I would choose the option that required no change in financial comfort, and I would choose to sidestep the difficult conversations with my husband that those changes bring.
I will vote for the so-called ease of the major leagues over third grade all day long.
Our desperate attempts to avoid the hard stuff reminded me of a story I once heard about Michelangelo and his sculpture of David:
Michelangelo was once asked what he was doing as he chipped away at a shapeless rock.
He replied, “I’m liberating an angel from this stone.”
Michelangelo saw beauty beneath shapeless rock, and from that rock, he carved the famous sculpture of David. Like the statue of David to Michelangelo, so are we to our Creator God: we are his masterpiece, his work of art.
He uses difficulties and difficult people to sculpt our character.
He uses hard situations…the testing of our faith…to produce endurance, so that our faith matures until we ultimately become complete in Him.
He isn’t so concerned with our comfort, as he is with our character. Which is where his route and mine become truly divergent. I’ll take my comfortable life with an iced latte on the side, please.
God uses the tools of his Word and his Spirit to shape us. He chisels and chips away at our lives, until the beauty is carved out, until we are fully liberated, beautiful works of art.
Is it just me, or do we all want the God-style results of beauty, but we want to take the short-cut to the beautiful? It just seems easier to detour around that “chipping away” part.
Kind of like skipping from third grade to the majors.
God planned for us before we were born, and life in Christ is about becoming who He made us to be…little by little…chisel by chisel.
If our lives are comfortable, maybe it’s because we aren’t letting God work in our hearts.
You are God’s masterpiece. I’m praying that you will let him chip and chisel until the beauty comes out…to the display of His glory.
Because otherwise, you’ll just be a deformed looking piece of rock. And who wants to look like that?
p.s. since you’re dying to know, I’m thinking we’ll probably keep Luke in third grade. You know, since the major leagues really aren’t an option at this point.