Monday, August 27, 2007

I Can Do It

For several days I watched her struggle with the assignment. It was fairly simple- for her English class K had to interview a classmate assigned to her and ask him 10 questions, then assemble the answers into an oral report to be given to the class. The teacher required each report to be between 2 and 3 minutes long.

K's problem with the assignment was simple too. Firstly, despite her best efforts, she could barely get the words she had written to stretch beyond one minute. The second is of course her fear of public speaking. According to the Book of Lists, it ranks number one with most people when asked what they fear most. Number two is most often death.

Michelle mentioned to K that I might be able to help her, since most of my life I have written and rehearsed words to be delivered to hundreds, and sometimes thousands, of people. On many occasions I have done it off-the-cuff, and despite a natural fear of public speaking I have managed to conquer it for the most part. I listened to Michelle encourage K to ask me for help (I was sitting on the couch nearby) and observed K's response- she shrugged and told her mom she could figure it out and would work on it more in the coming days.

She reminded me of one of our families favorite animated characters- Lola. She always tells her older brother Charlie “I can do everything that’s anything, on my own.”

Last Wednesday night, the night before the report was due, I watched K argue with one of her sisters. K was standing in the kitchen next to the microwave using the timer button by setting it to 2 minutes and trying to get her latest revision of the oral report to get to the minimum mark. She was still barely over one minute. Her sister was nearby making a racket doing one thing or the other that was distracting K and causing her to reset the timer again and again. I suggested to K that she take my Blackberry and use the stopwatch software I had and go in the other room and practice. As she came to get my phone I let her know that I was here and ready to help her if she needed it. She thanked me, said she could do it by herself and went in to the other room.

Sometime later she came back into the living room and sat beside me. She smiled, and then asked if I could help her. Finally, I thought.

I read through her report and pointed out where she could expand on her subjects answers, use more descriptive words to paint the picture of how he answered the questions, especially the hard ones. I uncovered more and more information about her interview that she never thought to capture in the report. In under 10 minutes we had expanded the report to run over 3 minutes so we had to go back and cut a bit. Within 15 minutes she was done.

On Friday morning I had coffee with a friend at my favorite local coffee shop, The Good Cup, in Franklin TN. Few people know about this place, so it is so much more pleasant to have meetings there rather than at Starbucks. We chatted about several things, and I recounted this story for him. He pointed out something rather interesting to me. He thought it was a wonderful illustration of how we interact with God. He is there. We are here. We need his help. He knows it, and waits on us to reach out to him- to lean into him for help and guidance. And too often we try to do it on our own. We struggle, push, pull, fight, fail, tire and then throw our hands up in frustration saying “this simply can not be done.” Then, in desperation and as a last resort, we come to the Father. We say simply- I need help. I cannot do this alone.

And he helps. And either we succeed with His help and direction, or we learn that what we have been trying to do all along may not be what we should be focusing on and we are led or directed elsewhere. The whole time he is there, waiting, for us to turn our face and heart to him. He is always faithful and there for us.