Dear Inspiration Seekers,
I happen to read a bumper sticker, while walking through the parking lot, “If you can read this, thank a teacher. If you can read English, thank a Marine”. Do not fret. I am not going to deconstruct the theology or politics of bumper stickers. However, in reading the current section of Galatians, I see a common theme: we benefit from the efforts and sacrifices of others.
Paul outlines the progression from Abraham’s belief in God to Christ’s dying in order to bring Abraham’s blessing to the Gentiles. Paul suggests that the Law mainly showed us that our own efforts are insufficient to fulfill all the details. How often is our current prosperity and comfort derived from another person influence? How often do we fail to achieve the great expectations that those people had for us? Do we return the favor to others, especially future generations? Obviously, I am not talking on cosmic levels, but on a more practical level.
I think back to memorable adults during my childhood. Ms. Woodard, my 3rd grade teacher, saw my creativity that the curriculum did not engage. She went beyond the lessons plans to keep my attention, regardless of whether I would ever learn to spell. Mr. Durkee, my high school German instructor, taught me more about how to be anti-establishment within a bureaucracy, “You just have to learn the rules, then decide if you want to play the game.” Upon graduation, he gave me a volume of poetry by Schiller (damn, it’s in German!). Eric Swchartz, a friend at church during high school, though my peer, was well beyond my level of confidence in being able to analyze ideas and construct literary pieces. And, of course, my Aunt Barbara, whom I have written about before, taught me much about pursuing my own path in life. If she were alive, she would relish sitting on our deck with her cocktail, watching me buzz around the garden, and instructing me to give up my “fifty-cent” words.
I have purposely not included my parents in this list, not out of disrespect or lack of awareness of what they provided for me. But, the others had a different level of responsibility and authority in my life. They did not have to provide me the opportunities to learn and develop confidence. They did not have to spend the extra hours beyond being a teacher, friend, and aunt. They did not have to invest their energy on nurturing my scattered creativity. But, they did use their energy, time, and skills for my benefit. I certainly made errors, embarrassing memories even now, during my childhood, adolescence, and adulthood. But, the lessons they provided helped recover from my failings.
Had Christ not sacrificed to bring the blessing of Abraham to the Gentiles, the Gentiles probably would not recognize what they missed. In my work, I have often interacted with adults who did not have the teachers, friends, and relatives who provided them with opportunities. Often, they are miserable, but do know why, other than the current crisis. But, even if this crisis resolves, those core beliefs in one’s value, in one’s competence, in one’s relationships is missing. It is much more difficult to develop these beliefs after 20 or more years of neglect to abuse. What a blessing to have had those beneficial experiences because of someone else’s efforts.
Until next time, Inspiration Seekers