In 7th grade I failed Home Economics. People don’t believe me when I say this but it’s true. Why I thought of that today when I was checking the air pressure on my tires I don’t know. Maybe because it was cold and my mind was on soup? Or maybe because I was handling a car-related job with ease and never took auto shop?
Once inflated my tires held the road a little better and I felt pretty smug. I came home and threw the penny I’d found at the gas station on the counter and thought this corner of my kitchen proves that Home Ec teacher got it wrong. If my espresso machine, kitchen torch, tape measure, and camera don’t scream accomplished homemaker what does?
So why in 7th grade did it look like I was doomed to be a failure—unfit to manage a home, prepare a meal, or sew up a costume come Halloween? I can’t say. I remember being excited about the class. Visions of Mary Richards in her swanky downtown apartment hosting parties and sewing her own clothes had me enamored with the idea that I could do the same.
But then in class I kept disappointing the teacher. I felt like Amelia Badelia. I couldn’t seem to get anything right. My teacher didn’t think it was funny. Neither did my Mom.
My solution was to take an entirely different class but the school counselor insisted that as a young woman I needed this class. The world was backwards then so I had to take it again. Fortunately I had a different instructor on the second go round, and with her direction I managed to pass.
Ten years later when I had my own kitchen plus a full-time job in a male dominated industry I was finally able to look back at the experience and laugh. My previous failure had become a running joke the larger my recipe box grew. Twenty years later when I whipped up the boy’s Halloween costumes I felt downright triumphant.
At lunch over my long awaited bowl of soup I finally realized the significance of the penny I’d found at the gas station. I was reading through my emails when I found one from Luke. He was frustrated that his biology teacher hadn’t shown up for his office hours again—something that would never be tolerated of a student but seems to be acceptable for the professional.
He was upset and that in turn made me upset. School doesn’t come easily for Luke. It never has. The jump from high school to college has been a hard one. Gone is the team of folks whose job it was to support him. Gone is the accountability that instills. His mentor summed it up well when she said, “In high school they make sure everyone is successful. In college you have to make sure you’re successful.”
Scenarios like the one with biology make me crazy because Luke is trying to be successful but absent the teacher’s commitment to the same it’s hard. If this were an isolated incident I could overlook it but it’s not. This is just what Luke is up against in college.
The worry this creates for me is hard to manage. It sucks the life out of me. One shift in the weather with Luke and I feel like my tires—deflated.
My trip down memory lane at the gas station wasn’t random it was needed. Remembering my own struggles is the anecdote for my worry. God’s word that tells me not to worry is a powerful prescription, but viewed in light of my own experiences it perfectly hits the mark inflating my spirit.
When Jesus says, “Take heart I have overcome the world,” I can say the same. I have overcome the world too. Not on my own but with His help I have triumphed in the face of many failures, some far more significant than Home Economics. I figured out how to be successful and Luke will too, even without a team. Overcoming doesn’t require one and it doesn’t require a commitment on anyone else’s part but your own. It’s just about not quitting because someone lets the air out of your tires.