During my college days, I spent a lot of time with my aunt and my cousins. One day, my older cousin told me, “as long as you live, you will always be learning.” This holds true for me, as even today I am still learning.
Taking a new task or learning a new thing is not easy. It takes time and effort. They may be challenging at times and need courage, or it may be easy and we can get it done in a short time. There may be times when we feel like quitting. Whatever it is, let’s remember the promise in Hebrews 13:5, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”
Years ago I accepted a new job in another hospital. Before I started my work, the boss asked me if I would like to take up the offer in their teaching hospital in Malaysia since I had some experience. I told him that I was happy to give a try; however, I was not fluent in the language that they were using for teaching, which was Malay. I only understood a little. The boss gave me the assurance that I would be given the training, and the principal of the school would guide me. I was excited with this new challenge, but at the same time I was fearful. That night I went home and prayed. I remember the verse in the Bible found in Isaiah 41:10, “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” A week later I started my new job. Not only was I well taken care of, I was guided step by step, and sent for training. My boss and the senior workers patiently taught me. It took me a while to learn and acquire the language. However, I never forgot the wonderful experience of the years I had working there. Each day, I knew that God was with me.
Today, I am still learning. As parents or teachers, we want our children to do their best. We first have to remember that each child learns at a different pace. Some things we cannot expect them to learn overnight. It may take time or more time than we expected. Through my own experiences, here are some things that I would like to share with you. These help me, and may work for you.
Patience: Learning new things takes patience. Sometimes we want to hurry and finish it. When my daughter turned four, she started piano lessons. She was born partially blind so it takes a little longer for her to read the music notes. Her teacher was very patient with her, and went slowly until she understood. A few months later, she took up violin. Since I do not know much about violin, I was learning with her while sitting in on her lesson time. When we came bac homek, we worked together. I learned to be patient with her because she got upset at not being able to progress faster than she wanted to or seeing the wrong notes. Somehow, she was a fast learner and wanted to do well. She learned to memorize every piece of music. In the beginning it was easy, with only four measures in the song, but each year it got tougher and tougher. We were thankful that all her teachers were very patient with her (even when we changed to a different teacher for her piano). As she grew older, she also realized that she needed to be patient with herself, too, in order to do well. God is good. Teaching is a challenging job, as well as being a parent. We need to have patience and show interest in what we do and in what our child does. With busy schedules, deadlines to meet, one may tend to be impatient and get irritated easily. There may be fear of not being able to achieve or complete the task. 1 Peter 5:7 says, “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” Pray and ask God to guide.
Prioritizing: Some things may take a little longer than others. We need to make a plan. Set an estimated time of how long it will take to tackle the project or learn. One of my hobbies is cooking. I love to learn new recipes. But, there are some that take more time to prepare than others. So, during my free time or while waiting for my daughter in her music lesson, I study the recipe. It gives me an idea of how long I need to take to prepare that dish. If there’s a lot of time required, I might have to wait until I have more free time. I need to see what needs to be done first. It’s similar to learning a new subject or a new lesson/topic. When we learn a new thing, we want to see it done well. I remember a quote from Benjamin Franklin that goes like this: “Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.” So, tackle the things that need to be learned and finished first, and then move on to learn the other things. Once we are able to do this once, the next time we come to the opportunity, it will be much easier. Mistakes may happen, but we all learn from our mistakes.
Positive Thinking: Keep a positive attitude when learning new things. This is not easy. When things are hard, we feel like quitting. It has happened to me many times when I am learning new stuff. There are times when I have to start all over. I have to remember to keep a positive attitude in order to set an example for my daughter. I told myself, “I can do it,” even if it means taking extra time. Philippians 4:13 says, “I can do all things through him who strengthens me.”
The other day, I was sitting on the deck chair under a small tree by the pool while waiting for my daughter at her swim lesson. After a while I heard some chirping and saw two tiny backyard birds. I believe they were looking for things to build a nest. There was a string hanging on the branch. It looked slightly tangled up. I was watching the birds taking turns trying to get the string out from the branch. I could see they were working hard on getting the string out of the branch patiently. After a while, one flew away while the other was still working on it. Soon, this little bird flew away too. I thought they had given up. A few minutes later, I heard the birds back again. They resumed working on the string, and finally they got it.
So, when things are hard, don’t quit. If there is time while working on your goal, take a short break and come back to it later. Sometimes, we may need a little help from someone.
Going Step by Step: As mentioned earlier, learning new things may not be an overnight thing. We may have to go step by step, just like a baby who learns to walk. The child is taught to go one step at a time so he does not fall. Over the years, as I sat in my daughter’s music lessons, I watched her teachers going step by step with her. It was a joy to see her reaching her goal at the end of each year. I also have learned to try to take small steps and not jump right in (although sometimes I still do). Having a schedule and planning out roughly how much time I need for each project helps. When you have free time, or while waiting on someone, try pondering your goal. Jumping right into it may finish the work, but will it be a job well done? By going step by step, we can help both ourselves and our children learn. Don’t be afraid or be discouraged if it doesn’t work out, either. Try a different method if possible. Pray and trust in the Lord to guide you. Proverbs 3:5 says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not unto your own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your ways.”