Learning vs. Educating

After my first seizure, I didn’t really blame God for anything. It was a gradual thing. I didn’t see it at first, but in about two years, things started drifting away from me. In one year, my grades had slipped. Good grades had always been a constant. I clearly remember when I got a C+ in math in 7th grade – I was horrified. In 8th grade, I would have been overjoyed with a C+, because I ended up failing the course that year. I didn’t have a great teacher, and I tried hard, but that didn’t make up for anything. Then, in 9th grade, while I was retaking Algebra 1 – the course I had failed the year before – I passed with a grades like I had in 7th grade. And I was pleased. But something else had been taken away – friends.

I have always been blessed with good friends. Ever since I could remember, up until 8th grade, I had always had good friends. I had never questioned anything about it, since I always had someone to sit next to in lunch, on the bus, or just about wherever I went. In 9th grade, my first year of high school, that all changed. Those friends had faded away. The people I had known for years had disappeared. Of course, people come and go with new schools, but even the people that I had known had left me. Hattie. Lyndy. Gone. Hattie had moved to Chantilly HS, so the only way we could communicate was when we ran into each other or on Facebook. But Lyndy… I wasn’t really sure what happened to her.

The next year, sophomore year, my grades fell like never before. But this time – I am so thankful – I passed the chemistry class, thanks to an amazing teacher. But barely. I had failed, failed, and failed some more. I tried – I really did! But eventually, I could not do it on my own. I had asked God to help me out, but I guess I didn’t really rely on him as much as I could have – or should have. Then, my teacher told me something: “If you pass the SOL (Standards Of Learning), you will pass the class.” Wow. I had a chance to pass! Just the chance was good enough for me. So every waking moment, I studied. I wrote down notes, looked over review sheets, and did everything possible to boost my chances of passing the SOL. Everyone got an index card where they could write anything they wanted down on it. I wrote down as many notes as I could, but I left a large chunk of space for one thing: a Bible verse. I can’t remember exactly what verse it was, but it encouraged me. I also left some space that had a small drawing of a sweating bunny and a description underneath that said “STRESS BUNNY!”. Although I ended up not using a lot of the notes that I had written on my index card, I had a sense of peace after I finished the SOL. Now, I just had to wait for the results. And I can safely say that it was a long, long wait. But eventually, my teacher came up to me with my result. “You pass.” Not only had I passed the SOL, but I had also passed the class. Yes! There was so much to thank God for! Without his help, I could never have done it. Walking out of the classroom that day, I had an extra spring in my step. If anything bad happened the rest of the day, I didn’t care – the news was too good. For the rest of that day, I felt like I had it all. Looking back, I had to put it all in God’s hands, because I couldn’t do it on my own. I didn’t realize it, and maybe I did it unconsciously. But He carried that burden for me. I was carrying the weight of the world, and it was only during the day of the test that every burden I had carried up until that time was lifted. I never have blamed God for anything. It was more of a “why me?” thing.

But although that was a time of feeling sky-high, there were also the times where I fell. When I was having a bad day, feeling like my seizures were getting a hold of me and realizing that everything I could do – or rather, couldn’t do – was limited, I took it upon myself. Although there is nothing wrong with them, I looked up verses about pain and suffering. But those were the only ones that I read. I looked in the wrong direction; I though I had so much pain. I have some, sure, but it’s nothing compared to others. For instance, my learner’s permit and my driver’s license. I hadn’t gotten my permit yet. I had put it off, and then once I tried to get it, the DMV wouldn’t let me because I had seizures. So now I have to wait another 6 months, still counting.

After visiting New Day, I realized that I have it so good. So I began looking at different verses. Some verses were a little off in terms of what angle I should be looking at them, but there was one verse that really stuck out to me. There was that verse that I had mentioned in an earlier post, from Romans 12:2 –

“Do not be conformed any longer by the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.”

Now, wanting to be different is the exact thing you don’t want to do in high school. And for the past few years, all I tried to do was blend in. But I think – and hope – that in my junior year coming up, this will be my year to make a difference and to be different. I don’t need friends, I don’t need to be able to drive, or need good grades. Just making a difference now is good enough for me. All I need to do it put everything in God’s hands and trust that he will take me in the right direction.

But then, what am I supposed to do about college? I can’t just say, “God will take care of it” and not do anything. All of my life, when someone asked me about what I wanted to do when I grew up, I answered honestly: I don’t know. And I still don’t know. But I was asked during my time at New Day not what I wanted to do, but what gifts was I given that I could use when I grew up. Now that was a curve ball, and gave me a lot of things to think about. But this much I know: I love kids. Elementary education, special ed, I’m not sure just yet. But I also know something else for sure: I have a sense of belonging at New Day. Not just because I love everyone in the New Day community, because I do. Not just because I love playing games with everyone, because I do. But because of two things: the kids and friends. The kids there are full of energy and will never leave you alone. Sometimes you might want to be by yourself for a little while. It’s exhausting and tiring, but it’s also exhilarating and satisfying. What they get is what they give – and that’s love. But also at New Day, I have something that I don’t come across too often – friends. Like I said before, I am often lonely. I’ve perfected the art of a plastic smile. When people say, “How are you?”, I put on a fake smile and say, “fine” or “great”. But then, I don’t even get that question asked too often at all. I’m praying for friends to come along with me for my junior and senior years. But then, although I would very much like them, I don’t need them.

One of the things that I learned at New Day was about education and learning. An education requires you sitting at a desk, taking notes, and abiding to the rules. With learning, you pick things up as you go along. And the teacher might not even know that they’re giving that knowledge to you. When or if I become a teacher, I want the kids to learn. Because you can learn while getting an education, but you can’t get an education while you learn. Learning cannot be taught by any one person, that single person has to figure it out for themselves.

“You cannot teach people anything. You can only help them find it within themselves.” -Galileo


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