9/01/2002 Back to School: Tips on Doing Well in "Life
As anyone with school-age children knows, the last few weeks have been a time of running around, making sure to have the right pencils, folders, lunchboxes, and other assorted items gathered in time for the upcoming school year. While it hasn't exactly been fun to tally up the cost of all these items, it has been a joy to watch my young daughter so anxious to get ready for her classes, with all the new subjects, learning and challenges to come.
It made me reflect on how different the concept of learning is to an adult as opposed to a child. It was so much easier when you only had to put a huge amount of time into preparation and study if you wanted to end up with a successful test score or grade.
It just doesn't seem fair that once you grow up. Life often seems like an endless parade of tests and trials. But unlike in our younger days as students, our best efforts don't always get the results we expected or thought we deserved. One plus one starts equaling who-knows-what. You show devotion and hard work at your job, and instead of recognition and promotion, you get downsized or outsized. You give love and trust in a relationship and instead of getting the same back, you get your heart crushed. You try to live a good, healthy life and illness hits you out of nowhere. It would be great if we would just reach into our pencil case, whip out our trusty ruler, calculator, or magic marker, and fix things up.
Of course, we can't go back in time, and usually we can't simplify and trivialize our problems into neat and tidy pop quizzes. But we have something at our disposal just as powerful as the handy school aids of our youth: the availability of prayer. A little something that can help you even things up when you seem to be facing an insurmountable problem without a solution. Remember, there's no rule that says we have to be able to bear all our challenges alone. Life is definitely an open-book exam. We have a God who cares and wants to be called on to pass our daily trials. And we have a dear friend and brother in St. Jude who wants us to help us get through the difficult parts of our tests. The best part is that this help is close by, freely available, and endless in its supply. You only need to say "I don't have an answer for this one - please help me!"
If there is a "cheat sheet" to succeeding in the school of hard knocks that many of us are forced to attend, it is this: how we deal with, reconcile, and keep ourselves together during the struggles we face along the way has as much, if not more, value than the ultimate goals we seek. Your difficulties and pains force you to bring out all the strength that makes you what you are. That alone is something for you to be proud of - even more proud than any good test score you ever received in school.
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