boon-dog-gle: (noun) work of little or no value done merely to keep or look busy.
free: (adjective) provided without, or not subject to, a charge or payment.

1/7/06

slow to learn...

My new year's resolution this year (and as my wife pointed out, for about the last seven years) was to become more organized, diligent, and responsible with my time. I'm pretty slow to learn the lesson that procrastination eventually makes me pay a heavy price. And, I too easily get started on way too many projects at once. Then I get so overwhelmed, I just end up watching t.v., or playing online Scrabble, or blogging because I can't make a decision about where to get started. I refuse to endure the little bit of suffering now, in favor of the diversions that are set before me, but I just end up reaping greater suffering later--like bad grades, or stressful sleepless nights, or disappointed people who were counting on me.

To help me with my time management, I've created a detailed weekly schedule that accounts for the time I want to spend studying, doing housework, working at my job(s), and even playing online Scrabble (among other things). It is now early morning, a week after the new year began; I haven't been within the framework of the schedule yet. But, to be fair--or really, to justify myself--this has been a crazy kind of a week.

For one, we've been looking for houses. A few months ago, I mentioned that we were looking to buy a house and we even got our loan pre-approval letter. Unfortunately, the opportunity we were trying to get in on fell through, but we've decided to move ahead and move out, as soon as we can find a satisfactory place. We want to live closer to the city than we are now, in a diverse neighborhood, with at least a decent public school system, and in a house where our family can have room to grow and even have room to host visitors. Yes, we want all that and we're flat broke (more or less). We found at least one possibility this week, but I don't know that we're satisfied yet, so we're going to keep looking.

Another unusual aspect of the week was my acceptance of a fourth job (yes, fourth). Besides UPS, I have two part-time positions with Covenant Seminary, where I went to graduate school. O.k., to be honest, school is on break so I'm not working much there. My fourth job, however, is also with the school. One of my former professors e-mailed me around Christmas and asked if I'd like to serve as a temporary T.A. for him and grade a bunch of his term papers (it turned out to be 31). I thought that sounded like fun, so of course I said yes. Originally, they were supposed to be done by Jan. 5 (Thursday)--so when do you think I got started? Let it suffice to say, I graded the bulk of thirty-one, 8-12 page papers this week. In the end, I actually returned the last 3 to Dr. _____ on Friday, but he didn't seem to mind.

I was pretty excited because, since I want to be a professor myself one day, I thought this would give me a chance to see what one aspect of that life is like. I was not only to read the papers, but also make comments and assign grades. Though, the professor looked at all of my comments, and the grade and he obviously had the final say. It was an interesting and--I think--rewarding experience. One thing that was not so rewarding, however, was experiencing 31 people, all writing on a similar topic, make the same few mistakes time after time. After a while, I even wondered if I was mistaken, thinking maybe I misunderstood the assignment or one aspect of it myself. But, after checking with the Prof., it turned out I was right. Now, most of these papers weren't completely off base or thoroughly miserable experiences in reading. But, as I made the same comments on papers over and over again, I felt like I was bumping my brain against a brick wall. I don't know exactly how to explain it, but it was like my subconscious expected each new paper to have learned from the mistakes of the last one. And when it didn't, I felt like I wasn't getting anywhere.

Now after being done with that experience for about a day and reflecting on it, I've come to realize something about my relationship with God a little better. I realize that I'm not just slow to learn from my propensity to procrastinate; I'm slow to learn anything that would challenge me to grow in character. I may have been frustrated that 31 people all made the same two or three mistakes. But how must God feel when I--who am one person--make the same 31 mistakes over and over again? (Well, of course it's more like 31,000 mistakes, but I was aiming for some balance in the literary aesthetic.) Fortunately, God is not a man like me. No matter how many times I mess up, He is ready to forgive. No matter how many times I procrastinate, or act irresponsibly, or downright abuse His grace, He has never, and He has promised to never, withhold that grace from me. I am slow to learn, but God is slow to anger and quick to forgive because His Son Jesus did not put off 'till later the mission He had to do. When the time was fully right (and just then), Christ came into the world to save sinners. He endured the suffering that was before Him in light of the joy that was to follow--the delight of His Father and the redemption of His people whom He loves. I hope that as He continues to save me, He will ever more help me and enable me to endure the suffering that I might face in light of the joy of fulfilling the calling and mission He has given to me.

1 comment:

W Sofield said...

Good work! By God's grace, you may not be as slow as you once were.

G.K. Chesterton...

"The Bible tells us to love our neighbors, and also to love our enemies; probably because they are generally the same people."