“Nothing good comes from laziness,” a more experienced parent once told me as she challenged me to teach my children the value of hard work.
I agree with her philosophy, but over the years another facet has been added to it for me. I have also come to understand that any time we choose the lesser version of ourselves because it is too hard to choose our best, it chips away at our hearts. We were created for the glory of God, and instinctively know when we abdicate excellence.
Excellence means not doing something grand necessarily but giving the best we have. It means leaving nothing in “storage” but walking away from a challenge devoid of strength and resources, to find ourselves filled with peace instead.
It is a life free of regret.
Not long ago, we watched “Facing The Giants” as a family. I loved that the coach challenged his team that although winning is good, the more important thing is to “leave it all on the field”.
That is what I want in the lives of my kids.
My oldest son is quite honestly the one who has taught me the power of this truth. He is the kid who is most skilled at “work avoidance” in our home. We have struggled, prayed, admonished, disciplined, and even ranted in frustration at times yet, lazy he remained. He is 15. We have only a few more years to sculpt a productive member of society, you know? Then, God’s answer came in an unlikely package- the US Army.
See, for a lazy kid, P.E. is a real downer, so when he found out he could avoid it by joining JROTC his freshmen year, he jumped (Well, not jumped exactly. That would take a TON of energy.) at the opportunity. He even joined the competition arm of JROTC, The Raiders.
During that first practice he must have felt like he had landed on a hostile alien planet. He texted me afterward to come get him, and “bring deodorant”. A week later, he began to seriously entertain the idea of quitting. He slumped in his seat on the way home- filthy, knees scraped, and drenched in sweat.
“I just don’t know if I can keep it up,” he said.
“What is the problem, honey? Are the upper classmen mean to you or is it just because it is so hard physically?”
“No one is mean,” he said. “I am just exhausted.”
“Well,” I said softly as I pulled into Sonic to get him something to eat. “Then, I think you should stick it with it. It won’t always be this hard. You will get stronger. More importantly though is the fact that if you quit, you will feel terrible about yourself.”
“Yeah,” he said.
It is still tough, but he hasn’t quit. What is more, even though I haven’t told him this, I have absolutlely no intention of allowing him to do so.
Last night, I looked at him and saw the first hints of muscle beginning to form, but more precious is the look in his eyes that says he is beginning to respect himself. He is realizing that he is stronger than he knew.
Oh, how I wish American parents could make peace with the truth that their children need to struggle while they still are still in the safe, encouraging haven of home. Without that struggle, they can never discover the glory that lies dormant within them.
The road to success leads through the valley of humility, and the path is up the ladder of patience and across the wide barren plains of perseverance. As yet, no short cut has ever been discovered.
by Joseph J. Lamb