I love the idea of new things, new skills, new places, new people. But I also like order, control, and definition. As I have had to spend the last couple of weeks saying, “I’m new here,” or “I’m new at this” and then ask for help, I realize how much out of my comfort zone I am right now.
This reminds me of when I was a little girl, trying to tie my shoes. I knew what I was supposed to do. Cross the laces. Make a loop with the one on the right. Pinch it with your right thumb. Bring the other lace over your right thumb and pointer finger, and then through the loop you just made. Pull until secure.
I would repeat the process out loud over and over again as I tried, but I just couldn’t do it, my fingers were too clumsy.
The same was true of the piano. Those first couple years, I would ask my dad to play the song my teacher assigned so I knew how it was supposed to go. When it was my turn, and I realized after three measures my rendition would be no where near his, I would bang my fists on the piano in frustration.
But if you think about it, no one would blame a child for this, would they? Well, minus the violence towards the piano. When you’re learning something new, you’re not expected to do it right the first time. Making mistakes, asking questions and getting help is okay as long as you keep on trying.
The same is true today. I have to Google how to get everywhere, even church. I have to ask for clarification about every last detail of enrollment. While I may be frustrated with the fact that I don’t know how to be a knowledgeable citizen of my new town or school, it’s to be expected. I’m a newbie here.
My frustration in learning mirrors my frustration in my own spiritual experience. After being born in a sinful condition, just because I have become a Christian doesn’t mean I’m automatically holy. I’m new at this too, although not as new as I was, say, seven years ago, or even a year ago.
So when I stumble, I shouldn’t be surprised. Just because you’re new to an area doesn’t always get you out of a traffic ticket, as a friend of my discovered this summer. We mess up, we have to deal with the consequences, but after making that mistake, we probably won’t make it again. The same is true in learning to be a Christian
And just like my dad showed me how to tie my shoes and played songs on the piano for me so I would know how to sound, I have an example to follow in Christ. He has given the Holy Spirit to instruct on how to live to be a citizen of heaven, rather than of this Earth. It’s a process, from one level to another.
“And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.” 2 Corinthians 3:18.
One more thing. By now, I know how to get the grocery store. I can tie my shoes just fine (most of the time). I still know by memory some songs from piano lessons. I can’t stay new forever.
In the same way, not learning lessons that I need to learn in my Christian experience because “I can’t be perfect today” is not an excuse. Christian growth isn’t static–you never arrive. It’s dynamic, growth should always be taking place. I should always be new at something, but not new to everything.
Humans were made to learn new things, how to tie a shoe, how to play a piano, how to learn directions around town. But the most important thing that we are supposed to learn is how to be like God, to have His character perfected in us. Just because you mess up once, twice, ten times, doesn’t mean it’s time to give up Christianity. Jesus promises forgiveness, and we get to try again as He changes us to be better equipped to do better.
The point is try.