My sophomore junior year in high school, I was placed in the lower level math classes. It was thanks to my freshman algebra teacher, Ms. Beadle, who didn’t do much teaching. In fact, at least 80% of the whole class ended up in the same level math the next two years as me. A few months into my Junior year, my teacher Mr. Harms – the total opposite of Ms. Beadle – sat me down and told me I had a choice: I could stay in the math class I was in, where I was not being challenged and therefore was extremely bored; or I could move up to the upper-level math class, where I would be challenged and have to work for an A. He gave me a week to decide, so that night, I went home and told my parents. I expected them to demand I choose the upper-level math class, because it was obviously the right thing for me to do. But instead, they told me I had to decide for myself. They were not going to intervene and tell me what to do. I didn’t know how to handle this sort of power back then. My fate was in my hand. This decision was going to alter that entire year and probably the next. It was too much pressure for me.
I’ve always been a helplessly indecisive person. I remember, whenever our family was traveling and it was time to stop and eat, they would turn and ask my sister and I where we wanted to eat – I could never decide, so I always made someone else make the choice even if it meant going the one place that didn’t sound particularly appealing. There are few phrases I despise more than, “Are you all ready to order?” to which my answer is always either, “Uhhhh,” until the server offers to come back; or, once that has already happened at least once, “No, but I’ll go last” and once it is my turn, and I haven’t yet decided, I panic and pick the first thing I see which often times isn’t even one of the choices I had narrowed it down to.
So, as you can probably guess, having to decide my own future in mathematics was one of the hardest things I had ever done to that point. As a result, I pawned my decision off on my friends, bugging them all week to decide for me. And of course, the one friend who finally broke down and gave me an answer told me to stay in the class I was in. When the end of the week came and my decision was due, I chose to stay in the easy class, because it was the only vote I had and my own vote was still on, “Ask again later.“
The following week, my mom told me that her and my dad were disappointed in my decision, and I remember thinking, “Well, why didn’t you tell me to join the other class?” I was furious that they would leave the decision up to me, then question the road I took. But, I didn’t understand what they were doing.
They were instilling their trust in me and simultaneously telling me it’s time I start making my own decisions. It was a brilliant parenting move if you ask me, because they understood me better than I understood myself, and they knew my decisiveness was going to be a problem down the road if they didn’t give me more responsibility in situations like this one. But, I was clueless, and I didn’t necessarily want to be challenged. Most of all, I didn’t want the responsibility.
I think this is a big reason why, when we ask God something, the response is so often silence. He’s telling us that he trusts us, and that we are more capable than we think. Trust is a powerful thing, because when other people trust you, you begin to trust yourself – especially when that trust is unearned, and especially when trust has been difficult for that person to come by.
By B.R. Mt.