I don’t know why, but this morning as I was walking to work I was remembering some of my earliest childhood memories that taught me some of the most important lessons.
My first year in school I went to a Jewish school in Sacramento called “Shalom School.” It was a great school. I remember how easy it was to make friends there and they had seriously the best playground. It was at Shalom School where I had my first crush and where I learned to slide down a rail Mary Poppins Style. My birthday was near the beginning of the year so I was always the oldest in class which I was OK with until later years. Out of all these memories one specific memory sticks out.
I remember our teacher walking in the room and saying, “I have a special deal to make with you.” all my friends eyes WIDENED with kindergarten excitement as all the A.D.D. kids started making wild guesses. “Your gonna take us to the zoo?!” “We get to bring ice cream!?” “No more girls at school!?” all the girls scowl at Ro’i. “Nope, if you all learn to tie your shoes by the end of this year we will all go rollerskating.” Immediately 1/3 of the class began to tie their shoes to show how they already knew how. I was not one of these. I had always owned a good pair of velcro strap shoes and never needed to tie shoes. In my head tying my shoes seemed relatively easy, especially when you have telekinetic powers like I always had in my day dreams.
On the ride home I told my mom that I had to learn to tie my shoe and so when I got home I found a pair of my dad’s shoes to practice on. I was motivated not by the end prize, no I had my own rollerskates and lived in a cul-des-ac. What motivated me was simply the skill. I thought, “this is important, I need to learn it.” So I spent hours trying to figure it out, I drew out diagrams, I watched Aaron tie his shoes to try and memorize the sequence. I still kept ending up with knots in the shoe laces and now I was at the end of my rope. I went to my mom and asked her to show me what to do, and she did. A few minutes later I had successfully tied my shoe and it was forever ingrained in my head. My mom took me to payless shoes and got me a new pair to tie myself.
The next day at school I had some shiny new shoes and I showed all my friends how easy tying them was. But something happened, all my friends agreed that the way I was tying them took way to long and that Ro’i had found a quicker and better way. What!? Are you kidding me, my mom taught me the slow way? Darn It! So all of my friends, Ro’i, David Wax, Miriam, and Alex, in unison showed me how to take two loops and knot them together. (They all had brand new shoes too.) Something about their technique felt wrong. I mean it kinda looked like it was tied but there had to be a reason why my mom would show me a different way.
I was always a big fan of short cuts and finding an easier way, but this was not right. Later that day during nap time things went terribly wrong for my friends. A proper nap time requires kindergartners to lay on a mat in the middle of the room with your shoes off…so as we all sat down to take of our shoes I pulled the outside string just like my mom showed me and my shoe untied and I slipped them off. My friends were not so lucky, as they struggled to undue the knot their faces all became red. During recess earlier that day the knot on their shoes had gotten even tighter and now they were suffering the consequences. Soon, Miriam was crying, Ro’i’s Jew fro was sweaty, and David and Alex had given up and tried to nap with their shoes on. The teacher came to aid them but she could not untie the knot. In the end she had to cut the laces with scissors.
The next day I instructed them how my mom taught me to tie a shoe and soon they all had it down.
How often do we try to figure out how to do something on our own without help or instruction? This is called pride and everyone has got it. Pride separates us from getting the help that we really need and it damages relationships. Pride sneaks into our lives in the smallest things and causes the most damage. The Bible says that pride comes before a fall. (Proverbs 16:18) If you believe in original sin or not, it does not take long to realize you are a sinner and it is your pride that tells you that you do not need God’s help to deal with your sin. Many people treat sin like they are in girl scouts trying to earn the goodness badge. People think their goodness will outweigh the sin. But God says differently Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. This is good news and something very amazing. It is called Grace and it requires nothing from us except to have faith in that Grace.
So stop trying to tie your own shoe and let your heavenly Father show you how it is done.