Loving what I hate

Like anyone else I enjoy things I do well and things I can't do at all. Case in point: I love yo-yoing and karaoke. It is the disciplines just within my reach that cause real suffering. Learning is better than entertainment when progress is fast and easy, but I recommend the slow and steady war-path of the difficult but possible.

Education is easy when it fits the contours of our being. Some are naturally mathematical, some grammatical, others physical, marketable, logical, poetical, ad nauseum. Every person carries in their body and personality skills to benefit their fellow man. A good job should tap those skill, a good education should hone them. Still, an education that simply conforms to the prejudice of one's personality will be hollow or two dimensional. Such an education does not challenge but leads down a path defined by our genes, not our choice. Our lives will be a drip of water always taking the downward path of least resistance never fighting to change course of reach for something higher.

I hate language studies. In elementary school I hated grammar, in middle school I loathed language arts, in high school I languished literature and in college I only failed one course, Greek. So why was I up late last night reading Essential English Grammar and why did I just enroll in two more Greek and Hebrew classes? I need the fight. When education is entertaining I suffer for lack of discipline.

In my life discipline and creativity are at war. No, they are not mortal enemies, but through trickery and crafty deceit I have started a lasting cold war between them. Creativity is my ally against discipline. In high school I had a motto: Do as much work with as little effort as possible. That takes creativity. We had a physics project due one week. We had to transfer water across three types of systems before depositing it in a bucket. My classmates built intricate systems with pullys, sprockets, buckets, cables. I found a way to make it work with a nail, a funnel and a tube. The checkout lady at ACO must have thought I was binging that night. While some students spent weeks, I finished the whole thing in three hours. I lost no water; got a perfect score. Some of my college friends are still paying off student loans. I played with a yo-yo.

I'm not saying I never work hard, I just work hard so I don't always have to, so I don't have to be disciplined. In this unholy allegiance I have forged with creativity sometimes we must use the weapons of the enemy to win the war. And I am happy with the life we have fought for, a life with only intermittent discipline. But sometimes, in the distance, I hear a voice as if a spy has crept into my brain asking, "What if creativity and discipline were allies?" Impossible. The very purpose of creativity is to avoid discipline. But... what if?

Why did I sign up for a 4th semester of post-graduate-level Greek and Hebrew? What if? I will not master these arts without discipline by my side. There is in me nothing that coincides with the study of language. I never used to yell in anger, but I have taken it up this year as a part of my studies. The terms, the vocabulary, the grammar, the tests and the conclusion whenever I translate that the NIV has done a pretty darn good job all tell me you are living backwards, accomplishing little with much work. How can I persist? It is this drug of the unknown that drives me. Everything in me has always told me to turn right. Well, what about left? As soon as I freed myself from the path of least resistance, from my inclination to always turn right, I found that not only could I turn to the left I could also go straight, backwards, up, down or just be still. Before my life was narrowed down to a single direction but I have witnessed a world of possibilities all barely within reach, and only in striving will I experience their benefits. As I pursue the difficult but possible I find that much I held as true about life was the creativity working in me to define a world where my way is always right and best. Once I learned to resist myself I broke free from my presuppositions and saw a new world. Life was once black and white. When I lived in that world I could imaging gray, but only when I reached for the gray did I see color.

So I have learned to love the things I hate. I just took Greek exegesis this summer. I hate exegesis. They taught us to preach exegetically. I hate exegetical preaching.  Nevertheless I poured myself into the study, full of anger and suffering, and I have come out seeing the glory of this skill, a skill I still despise. I hate it because it is hard. It is hard for me. I hate it because I could never preach that way with affect. I hate it because it is not in me to love it. I knew the skills would be difficult for me so I invented reasons why exegesis was useless. But I have seen a glimmer of its value. Will this change my life? No. But I did learn things in a way I never learned before, things I never thought I could grasp. A new door is opening, the door to a harder more arduous life. Dare I peek inside and fight the life of least resistance?

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  • Amira

    Hi Adam. Long time no hear.
    Does this rethinking of ones’ comfort zone extend to asparagus?

  • Good question.