The day my son wrote a whole paragraph without shedding one tear was a special day. Over the past week he had brainstormed his topic, written his draft, proofread it, revised it, and the tears he cried through it all equaled the number of his pencil strokes.
You see, my son hates writing. Actually, I should say it this way: My son HATES writing!
Sure, there have been glimpses of hope, like the time he saw me writing out my prayers in a journal and asked if he could try it too. I think he wrote something like, “Jesus, I love you,” then he walked away quickly wondering why in the world he thought that might be a fun thing to do in the first place.
Then there is always the larger-than-life-sized drawings he makes of submarines, castles, and ancient battle scenes on huge pieces of paper taped together. The little stick figures are always saying something like, “Help!” or “Run!” but those little stick men never wax eloquent.
The fits he throws over an assignment often take longer than the assignment itself. There has been so much groaning, stomping of feet, whining, and tears. Oh the tears!
So imagine my surprise the day he wrote a whole final draft without one complaint or protest. I had braced myself for a meltdown, but it never came. Instead, I just sat there asking the Lord for diligence on my son’s behalf, praising God for His work in my son’s life. There was a lot of tapping of the pencil, and stretching, and looking around, but for the first time I saw determination on his face instead of despair.
When he finally punctuated the last sentence he literally jumped out of his chair and yelled, “I can’t believe I finished! I did it!” There was so much hooting and hollering going on, that his little brother joined in the celebration. “Good job, brother!” he said giving him a big squeeze. “I can’t believe I wrote that whole thing,” he kept saying. I praised Him and told him what a great job he did, but honestly it didn’t matter, because he already knew it. He felt it deep.
Let’s get one thing straight; his paragraph was atrocious. Some parts didn’t make any sense, there were errors, sentences were incomplete. It was horribly written, but that’s what made it a success. It was written! That one badly written paragraph is one of my son’s biggest learning accomplishments of the whole school year.
He learned lessons that far outweigh the importance of spelling or punctuation. He learned the amazing feeling that comes from not shrinking from a difficult task. He learned that in life there will be many unpleasant things that we must do and that it is better to just put your nose to the grindstone and get it done with a good attitude. He learned that there is value in hard work!
These are the kinds of lessons that I get most excited about. The kinds that can’t be written into a curriculum. The kinds that have to be experienced, not taught.
My son may never come to enjoy writing, or maybe he will. But that doesn’t really matter to me as long as he learns that whatever he does, he ought to do it heartily as unto the Lord rather than for men. That one important lesson applies to whatever skill set or line of work he chooses to pursue. We all can learn from my son's bad writing.
Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men.