You've Got to Begin Somewhere
Peggy K. Mack
July 30, 2013
This morning I was thinking about the upcoming school year and my excitement over the opportunity to help Mickey Mullins in her four year olds Pre-K class at Forrest Brook Elementary. I thought about all the things I love to do with them from telling them a story and watching their eyes sparkle with anticipation, to assessing them on their progress in new skills they have acquired. One of the things I love about Mickey's room is the required, but adorable self-portraits that are replaced once a month by a new, and improved self-portrait.
That's when the thought struck me. As Christians, we all have to begin somewhere. We cannot wait for the moment when perfection strikes and then we take our first step. That's simply ludicrous. The reason it makes no sense is because all adults know that to get to a place of skill and understanding now, we have to first begin with the simple, easy attempts and with time, work, focus and diligence, we show a level of progress and improvement and growth.
With each little drawing you can see progress in their understanding of how they look to themselves and others. The first immature drawings are alien like and bear little resemblance to the precious child that created the "self-portrait". In some cases, the child's image is nothing more than a big circle in the middle of the page with four sticks "growing" out of his head that represent arms and legs and somewhere on that circle, maybe upside down, but nevertheless there is a smile. To the uneducated mind, a person is left to wonder what is wrong with the child. To those of us who spent a lifetime loving children and celebrating in their growth in knowledge and confidence, we see the potential, the beginning moment when the child will start to learn.
For this skill, of drawing a self-portrait, it comes with practice, observing other children, following a step by step lesson from a classroom assistant using a mirror. It includes songs like: "Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes" to help the child acquire an awareness of where everything is on his body. And with each passing month, a new "self-portrait" is created. We, as educators and volunteers watch for progress and a level of new understanding as we compare their picture last month to now. In a few rare cases, there is little progress and we call in professionals to help decide if further assessment is needed for the child. In most cases, the child progresses through the year from his alien like appearance to a precious drawing which might include teeth, glasses or a beautiful bow that matches an outfit. The child displays a growth in knowledge, a clearer self image and true progress.
We as Christians cannot compare ourselves to others who are walking in their own journey in faith. The truth is we have no way of knowing what their relationship is with Christ and it is not our job to focus on them and heavens forbid to judge them. Our focus should be on our own reflection. Wherever we are today is where we begin. Our resources are a few tried and true volunteers to walk with us as we begin. Along with those fellow Christians, we seek more knowledge through a few well recommended references and we keep the Bible as our main source of knowledge and light. We enrich our understanding with listening and following and practicing. We may not see the progress along the way, but with time, others will see it in us. Our focus remains on God and our walk with Him.
God has seen us as we are from the beginning and He sees who can become when we follow His will and His light. We do not see it, at first, but with spiritual maturity we begin to have a clearer image of how we can serve and our gifts in the Spirit and the mature Christian we can become.
Where we end up with our new adventure is unclear. The important thing is that we do not let anything stop us from beginning what we feel we are called to do. Our trust is in God who teaches, guides, corrects, assesses, reteaches and shows us His love. Just like the classroom teacher sees the child and knows their self portraits will improve and mature with time, God sees the best in us now and knows the best we can become.
When I return to the classroom in a few weeks, I will think of taking first steps for Christ and allowing myself to improve with time. The most important thing to do is take the first step. You've got to begin somewhere.
Dear Heavenly Father,
Through my lifetime of teaching small children I have so often been able to see your loving guidance and feel your support. Your children are such blessings to us all. I pray for the children we are responsible for caring for, teaching and loving. God bless your children here on Earth. May we all learn from them and keep our faith as the faith of a little child.
In Jesus' Holy Name,
Matthew 11:29 New King James Version (NKJV)
29 Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.
Luke 9:23 (English Standard Version)
23 And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.
1 Peter 4:10
10 Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God's grace in its various forms.