I have a confession to make.
It’s not easy for me to make this confession because it causes me to expose a vulnerability which is not something I particularly enjoy doing but I’m going to do it anyway because I came across two thoughts this week that have stuck in my brain and they are these:
You have to be brave with your life so that others can be brave with theirs.
Let your faith be stronger than your fears.
And so, with that in mind, my confession is this: I am not good at math.
I was a freshman in high school before I figured out how to accurately subtract digits that included zeros. (And that was only because I had a teacher who noticed a pattern in my schoolwork. I knew I couldn’t do it was too prideful and embarrassed to ask for help and compensated for it by making sure all the other questions that didn’t have the zeros were answered correctly).
My childhood dream of becoming a nurse was waylaid when I was fifteen and making poor grades in Chemistry. That teacher told me I’d need to pick a different major in college.
College math requirements were different twenty years ago and I took the bare minimum that I needed to receive my degree. I studied harder for that class than any class I ever took and many times would spend upwards of six hours before tests working every practice problem in the book just so I could maintain my GPA.
Graduate school was trickier. I had to take a statistics course that was so over my head I almost quit. Just ask Amy how horrid it was. I called her late one November night crying. I was in my last semester of coursework, mere weeks away from finishing and I had to pass my statistics class to do so. I was so discouraged that I would never get it that I was ready to quit the program that very night, drive six hours down to Louisiana to move in with her and plan the next course of action. We spent two hours on the phone while she talked me off the ledge. It is no joke to say I literally owe both her and the computer lab geek who practically did my stats homework for me in exchange for weekly dates playing penny poker for my graduate degree and subsequent gainful employment.
I was secretly relieved to step off the professional track when the babies were born because my next career move would have required me to prepare budgets and profit and loss statements and since I dropped out of Accounting my freshman year on the last drop/add day….well, I think we ALL know how that would’ve turned out. But to my great chagrin, even though I’ve been an at-home mom for thirteen years, I still haven’t left my old friend Math behind. Now my role is to be the homework helper for three boys, two of whom are taking ridiculously hard algebra for 7th grade and, quite frankly, they’re not doing so well. I’m doing the best I can with what little knowledge I retained but if we’re honest here, they passed me up about a year ago. We’re doing after school tutoring for them, Dad helps in the evenings when he’s home, but bless their hearts, they are still struggling.
And I’m struggling too.
People, I cried last night over a stupid word problem about some dumb dogs.
That’s after spending an hour on the internet watching math videos and still not figuring out how to arrive at the correct answer.
It was humiliating and beyond frustrating. I don’t know if I have a learning disability, whether it’s just preference, disuse of skills, giftedness in other areas, a right-brain/left-brain thing, or a combination of all of the above, but I think if I had to name just one thing that stands most in the way to keep me from conquering this stronghold it would be fear.
Fear that I’m a failure.
Fear that I’ll never learn.
Fear that my boys will be consigned to a subpar life because of my inadequacies as a mother.
Fear that it’s too late.
Fear that I’ll invest the time and money to learn and it still won’t work.
Fear that the boys’ teachers will think I’m stupid and not awesome.
Keeping it real.
Fear that my husband thinks less of me every time I call to ask for help when I’m stuck.
Which is all the time.
But I can’t be fearful because I’m not called to live that life. I can’t be fearful because I need to show my kids how to persevere when life is hard. I can’t be fearful because I need to teach them how to throw off the shackles that bind and how can I do that when my feet are as planted in concrete?
So today I’m going to be brave. I’m going to the library with lined paper and pencils and I’m going to start to learn math.
I’m going to spend quite a bit of time on the internet NOT checking the latest updates on People.com and instead learning about the distributive property. I’m going to download practice sheets
with answer keys so that I know what I’m doing. But more than that, I’m going to pray as I panic and the numbers swim before my eyes that the Lord would grow my faith more than enough to conquer my fear and that He would give me victory so that He can use this weakness for His glory and for the good of sweet, smart boys who need a little bit more from their mama right now.
But until I can figure out how to write an equation with fractions to solve for x and figure out how many ding-dang puppies were left at the pound, I will cling to the one constant that I know to be true.
Jesus = Enough.
Have a nice day.