I’ve been reading a book a friend sent me, “A Call to Joy” by Matthew Kelly. And in it, he describes a sad time in his elementary years — first grade to be exact — when he struggled with spelling.
When his mother learned why he was crying every Friday afternoon, that his failed spelling attempts were the cause, she assured him everything would be alright and he would learn to spell. She proposed a solution by focusing on how many words he’d gotten correct. He said he’d gotten six out of 20 right. So his mom told him if he got seven right the upcoming week, she’d take him “straight from school” to buy him “a big bar of chocolate.”
He got seven right — and the promised chocolate bar. It continued on with better scores each time “until not only had I developed a love for chocolate but I could also spell.”
Now that’s my kind of mom!
Kelly was applying this to the faith life and how God speaks to us, encouraging us little by little, layer by layer, until one fine day we find we’ve changed, grown, and become someone different than we were at the start. But we’re not made to change or grow all at once. We’re human and it’s simply too overwhelming to go at it whole.
I agree and can also see a parallel with the writing life. Who could possibly fathom writing a book in whole? But how many writers have sat down and tackled the making of a book one page, one essay at a time?
Everything in small amounts is doable, and it’s an astute approach for any area of life, really. We are all works in progress, as are our works. So we must keep our expectations reasonable, whether it’s tackling a dream project or setting goals.
One by one, if we put our faith in what’s on the other side and, even when we can’t see it, begin to inch toward it, we’ll find ourselves across what seemed at one time an insurmountable chasm, and it will not feel as though we’ve just run a marathon — only a lot of meters in succession.
Each word gets us closer…one by one. And every word counts.