The standard for getting into the club was pretty stiff. You had to make all A’s one semester and then maintain an A/B average for the rest of your high school career. (We didn’t keep grade point averages way back then.) The only shot I had at all A’s in a semester was the year I didn’t take math. I wasn’t a terrible math student – just not an A student. So sophomore year, I took no math. I signed up for typing instead.
Typing. Sounds like a crip course, right? You’d think…
The standard was way high, however. An “A” was 80 words per minute on a manual typewriter. (Mary Jane Ward was the only A and she overachieved in everything.) I tried so hard to improve but the best I ever did was 75 words a minute. I got A’s in everything else that year – all year. English. History. Chemistry. Band. And then a B in typing. How degrading! After that I gave up trying to make Beta Club. In fact, I gave up achieving academically.
And then came college…standards way beyond my small town mentality, I believed. I never measured up there and though I did graduate thank-you-laude I always felt that the bar was set higher than my abilities. Always.
It’s taken 60 years to find my confidence and tenacity buttons. I still struggle with “what-if-I-fail syndrome,” and sometimes it gets me down. But I’ve learned that if I don’t try, I’m putting huge limiters on everything from my hopes and dreams to my service to God.
So right now I’m trying TOO HARD in my master classes. I’m making it way tougher than it really is. Sometimes I wonder why. My tenacity button is locked in the “on” position.
The day before my 60th birthday last December, I went to the doctor for my annual checkup. For the first time in six decades my “numbers” were far from perfect. High blood pressure and high glucose levels were – well, not extreme, but higher than normal anyway. With tenacity button on, I dieted and exercised with everything I had, vowing that I’d beat these hereditary ills.
One month later, there was no change in the numbers. None. My doctor, who is maybe 30 years old, gave solace by assuring me, “Sometimes as we get older these things happen.” Hmmmmph.
So I put the tenacity button on idle and agreed to surrender to medication. I’m still waiting for those to kick in. In the meantime, however, I’ve got a balancing act to practice – the one between commitment and surrender.
In the Christian community we’re often receiving mixed messages about these two things.
“Press on” – says Paul and the writer Hebrews. “Press on. Don’t quit. Reach for the prize.”
Then Jesus says, “Deny yourself.” “Blessed are the meek.”
Commitment and surrender – a delicate balance, one I’m still trying to master.
By the way, my typing is no better than it was in 10th grade but I get by!