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Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Learning from each other

What would you say is your "style" of learning?  There are those who would report they learn "best" when they can see something done for them a couple of times and then they "get the hang of it".  Many are quite adept at reading something in a book, such as a recipe or instructions, then replicating what they have read without much effort.  Then there are those who need to hear something described, see it in action, then be guided through step-by-step until they finally get it.  Most of us will say we "fit" into one style or another, but there are times in my life, depending upon the "thing" I need to learn where I need the teaching style to vary a little to accommodate what it is I need to learn.  For example, I would not say math is my strongest suite in life, but I get along pretty well. It took me a little longer to grasp some of the math "concepts" such as exponents and which fraction had to be "inverted" when you want to divide it and then be multiplied to get the answer.  Once I saw it a few times, heard the instruction, and even read it a couple more, I began to associate the "steps" to take with what I needed to replicate.  Now, knowing "when" to apply each type of equation or mathematical "experience" is another matter!  When does this situation "fit" into this type of expression in mathematical terms - this was the challenge!  Sometimes I go about things in the "long way" because that is how I "get" to where I need to be, but if I get there, does it matter?  My math teacher always told me it did!  I think God thinks it does, too.  He doesn't want us using "any old means" to accomplish the end result - he wants us using the "designed means" each and every time.  Maybe this is why he takes such great effort to help us learn as we need to learn so we can apply as we need to apply! 

Teach children in a way that fits their needs, and even when they are old, they will not leave the right path. (Proverbs 24:6 ERV)

I like how God gives us the same practical advice when it comes to raising our own children.  We aren't supposed to make them fit into some mold we imagine for them, but to design their learning opportunities around their "needs".  In essence, God is saying we don't all learn the same way and to think we do is kind of silly. When we begin to realize the uniqueness of each person we deal with on a daily basis - even those outside of our family - we begin to see there are different needs each of us has in this life.  At times we can be quite "needy" of another's hand-holding and instruction-repeating actions.  At others, we can hear it once and then strike off to get er done!  The issue isn't IF we can learn the needed lesson, but how it is that we will best learn it. 

What "way" fits your needs when it comes to whatever is in front of you today?  I think the "way" is important because it defines how it is we need to approach each other and not just the situation.  In essence, God is telling us people are not made with cookie cutters and our life-lesson opportunities are going to be as varied and unique as each of us is!  If God knows this about us, then he designs various opportunities for us which will help us learn whatever it is he needs to impart into our lives.  He is a creative God - after all, he made you and I and everything we see, feel, hear, taste, or just plain "know" is there even though we cannot see it (like gravity).  So, isn't it reasonable to assume he will be creative in how we learn as we grow in him?

If this is the case, then we might do well to not expect or dictate that another "learn" in the same way we do.  This applies to all manner of things from learning how to manage one's money to learning how to tie one's shoes.  My grandsons learned some "bunny ear" way to tie shoes, while mom "bribed" me with a penny each time I sat down and tied the bow in the "traditional" way.  Now, both of us are able to tie our shoes - but we learned it in a completely unique way. My grandsons are learning this "core math" stuff and coming to the right answers with simple math equations which I just somehow don't always get, but they do!  So, if they get it, who am I to say it is wrong?  I just didn't see the need for "new math" when we already had what everyone touted as "new math" when I was coming through school!

We often criticize or discount as "unworthy" whenever we don't understand something another is going through in their learning process.  We forget they are unique, complete with a unique set of learning needs, and God is designing the perfect "means" or "way" for the life lesson to be worked out in their lives.  We shouldn't criticize, but help them to embrace it according to their "style of learning".  After all, the God who created their very breath created the means by which they would learn this present lesson!  It isn't one-size-fits-all in this thing called life.  It might just take a few tries at the same thing until we get it.  If we stick with it and don't give up, we can count on getting it.  We just might learn something by watching how another learns in this life - because even in "their" lesson, we might take a lesson or two!  Just sayin!