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The Nature of Learning

Life is like classroom where we never stop learning. When we're infants, we learn how to talk and walk, and when we are old, we learn how to surrender our facilities. That is one of the wonders and terrors of being on this planet. It is always changing, and we must change with it, either that or remain mental-midgets. Forgive me if this is not politically correct.

It seems that huge changes in life require the most amount of learning. This is most obvious in the childhood years. If I had to guess, I'd say the biggest developmental changes occur at ages 2, 6, 10-14, 18-25. Marriage and child-bearing also seem to be life-changing thresholds. I imagine becoming an in-law and retiring are as well.

There are several things I'd like to note about these times of learning. One: they can be humbling, uncomfortable and scary. Two: they can require a huge amount of grace on the part of the learner's family. And three: the rewards are worth it! 

ONE: Learning is humbling, uncomfortable, and scary.

Learning is humbling because it reminds us how much we don't know or can't do. It reminds us, ultimately, that we are not God. And since everyone, me included, would really like to remain god of their own life, learning can cause people to violently defend their god-delusions. Thus, learners often pose and posture, judge and criticize, blame and refuse help even though they desperately need it.

Learning is uncomfortable; thus, learners often moan and groan about seemingly little things. The truth of the matter is these little things feel big to them. They've yet to realize that their pain is quite common to man.

Lastly, learning is scary because it involves being wrong or incomplete. That is scary, especially if a learner has their identity wrapped up in being right most of the time.

TWO: Learning can require a huge amount of grace on the part of the learner's family.

The learner's family needn't take offense at the learner's reactions to the humbling, uncomfortable and scary, so long as they remember that the learner is merely struggling against God and not their loved ones. The family can pray that the learner discovers that they cannot be everything unto themselves, and that God can. Praise God for that!

The learner's family can also, if they have any imagination, remember that they were once in the learner's shoes. A little empathy can go a long way. But the learner's family also needn't moan and groan with the learner. These growing pains are normal, and we can be assured this difficult time soon will pass. 

The family also needn't insist they have valuable wisdom and experience to share, and gosh darn-it, why won't you listen! The best teachers—surprise! surprise!—are also the humble of heart, meaning they too know how little they know.

Lastly, the family needn't mock the learner's fear. It is very real, the learner might actually fail at learning something new. But that's okay. The family can encourage the learner that is it okay to fail. Love, acceptance, and safety won't ever be withheld.

THREE: The rewards of learning are worth it. 

I'm pretty sure novels and self-help books have described numerous people who've stunted their own growth by resorting to self-preservation techniques in times of learning instead of running into the hands of God. But let's not be a people who does good out of fear of the bad. Let's be a people who learns because we are free to do so.

We don't have to worry about maintaining our position as god in our own minds or the minds of others. We don't have to worry about being alone or misunderstood in the midst of uncomfortable and new pains. God is always with us and he always understands. And we don't have to be afraid of making mistakes. The requirement of doing everything right all the time has been met in the person of Christ. We're free from having to have everything all together. 

We are free to learn!


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