During Lent, many folks give something up as their effort to go without a favourite treat or a guilty pleasure. I think it’s less about God wanting me to go without popcorn at the movies, and more about God wanting me to be aware of what puts me in a state where I’m vulnerable to temptation. The road to hell probably isn’t paved with Wonka Bars. But the weakness that happens when I’m tempted to do something not good for me – like watch too many Nick Cage movies, or eat All The Bacon, or punch someone in the throat, shines a light on where I need help to make good decisions. When I’m tired or hungry or lonely or angry, yeah, I’m going to totally be vulnerable to poor decision-making.
I said that I was going to do an allergy elimination cycle – that’s not going well. I said I was working on purging the extraneous stuff in my space – that’s stalled. And I know it.
I read an article about a parish in Louisiana after the hurricane blew through. I remember nothing about the article save this: Every night in her prayers there was a woman who prayed “Lord, I failed today. Help me do better tomorrow”. Amen to that. There are all kinds of sayings that talk about just showing up and giving it the good college try: “If you don’t play, you can’t win” and “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take” and “Doesn’t matter how many times you fall down, it matters how many times you get back up”. Giant leaps of progress are good, but baby steps count, too, and I forget that all too often.
Of all the scholastic injustices I’ve encountered, the one that still riles me up is The Basketball Grading Rubric debacle. The way we were marked was thusly: You got 10 free throws; [the number you got in] x 10 was your mark for the unit. So, if, at the beginning of the unit, you could make 2, and by the end, you had improved to be able to make 7 (so, a significant improvement), you still did worse than someone who started at 8, and didn’t improve at all. Effort should count. Improvement is the goal, and it was completely disregarded in that unit. It’s not just the destination, it’s the effort you put in to get there. Except it wasn’t. That was very disheartening for me. I mean, I know. The test was how well you could do. Just like math tests were about how well you could demonstrate your mad numeracy skills, and French and Chem and every other course was about how well you could do in those respective courses. But in that gym class it always just felt like that single marker was a poor measure of success. I don’t know why it’s different than learning a whole unit of net new information in a different course and being tested on that, it just was. Even as I type this it sounds irrational.
Good thing I’ve figured out ways to measure my worth that don’t include my basketball free throw prowess. For my misadventures and my stalled effort, I’m making some progress, so I know I shouldn’t discount the whole effort. I mean, if I can identify my obstacles, and mayhap even remove some of them so the progress is more/faster/better, then that’s even better. But continuing to move forward, even if you’ve been knocked back behind the line of scrimmage, is the important part, right?
This Lent, may I consider the scenarios that shake my resolve to be a better person, and may I see the perpetual opportunities to do better from now on.