We started finals today and as soon as I get done posting this, I'll get back to grading my Bible 8 Semester 1 Exams. I can already tell some of my kids studied much and some......did not. This is about a girl who always studied. It's from from 12-6-05.
Life is relative. The first thing Todd Burnett, one of my students, said to me this morning was "It sure is cold!" The temperature in Houston was 38 degrees, which for where we live is frigid. Thirty-eight degrees in many places in December is considered evidence of global warming. One Christmas, we visited my sister Cece who lives in Montana. The temperature one morning was 30 degrees below zero. It was so cold, it hurt to breathe. Now that's COLD!
I attempt to help my students understand the relativity of certain matters. I'll ask if a girl who is five feet in stature is short or tall. The invariable answer is 'short', to which I reply, "Not if she's in kindergarten." I'll choose a young man who is 6'3" and ask if he is tall. When they assert that he is, I state, "Not if he's in the NBA." Comparisons show discrepancies in any number of areas that we deal with. Most of my players and students think they work hard. There is always someone working harder.
Her first name was Elsa and she was a Copeland. It seemed like half the kids at the school were Copelands or related to Copelands. I taught her for three years in history classes and was blessed to be her coach her senior year. Elsa was driven. Life was full throttle for her. She was a student in an elective US History class which was unlike any I have ever instructed. The kids were beyond competitive in their test grades. The exams were simple, usually only two essay questions, but they would write non-stop for the entire period and beyond. Elsa was always extraordinarily prepared. She always made a perfect score. Curious to find out how much it meant for her test to be flawless, I asked, "Elsa, how much extra would you study to make a one hundred on your test instead of a ninety-nine?" Notice, I didn't ask how much would she study but how much EXTRA; she was already putting in hours the night before. She thought and her reply was "Five hours." That blew me away. The difference between 99% and 100% is minuscule. On top of that, we were on the A-B-C-D-F system. A 99% and 100% were the same grade. Elsa was such a perfectionist that the one point, which would never show up on her transcript, was vitally important. That May, at graduation exercises, guess who gave the valedictory address? There was never any doubt it would be Elsa.
Most don't understand hard work. When I tell the story of Elsa, my students are incredulous. Her study habits, according to them, were out of line with rewards she might reap. We have a conflict- we want to be good but we don't want to do what it takes to get there. I had a young lady who played basketball for me as an 8th grader and a sophomore. Last season, she made the NCAA All-Tournament team and her Baylor Bears won the Women's Final Four. Her name is Emily Niemann. I believe she was the best shooter in the country. In class, I asked one of my middle school basketball girls if she wanted to be as good a shooter as Emily. Her quick reply was "Yes!" Then, I described the countless hours which Emily spent on becoming a tremendous shooter; how she would come in an hour and a half before school in 8th grade, go through both MS and high school practices, lift weights, and then find a pickup game against guys. I described how as a 10th grader, she told a FOX reporter in a TV interview how she had played basketball everyday since 4th grade. After going through Emily's story, I asked my player if she still wanted to shoot like Emily. When she saw what it took, she changed her answer to "No." We are all like that. Jesus had people say they would follow him but they did not know what it entailed. I have to love you more than my family? My possessions have to be sold and given to the poor? What's this about carrying some cross daily? We haven't changed much. We talk a good religious game. We want to follow Jesus sort of. I have my classes write letters to the seriously ill or grieving. When a student asks, "How long does it have to be?", they are asking, "What's the least I can get by with?" That describes our spiritual lives at times- the minimum effort to still be considered a Christian. I don't see in myself the dedication I see in those who gave up all and followed Jesus. Elsa would dedicate five extra hours for one point. What is worth five hours for me?
Applicable quote of the day:
"A man sits with a pretty girl for an hour, it seems like a minute. He sits on a hot stove for a minute, it's longer than any hour. That is relativity."
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