Is Being Good at Something the Point?

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This is baby Pip on his favorite vehicle back in the day, the helicopter. But I’m such a good artist I doubt I had to tell you that, right?

I was a good student and a good librarian. At best, I feel like I’m a tolerable stay at home mom and a lopsided housekeeper (maybe better than usual baker? Worse than usual mopper?).

But I’m reminded of what I heard a priest say this All Saints, while I wrestled my toddler in the back pew, still seething at the preschooler is left with his merciful papa: “God doesn’t ask anything of us we can’t do, but he also doesn’t ask any less.”

I had heard the old cliche first part before, but never stopped to consider the second part. Easy isn’t a sign you’re doing things right, that you’re basking in God’s favor.

I feel like I’m pretty bad at being pregnant. On the one hand, I’ve brought two babies successfully into the world and so far things look good for this one. But the process is violent and draining for me and I can’t do anything much else while I’m brewing a baby and I certainly don’t make it look elegant or even desirable.

But I’m not sure being good at something is the point. When I was a kid, I took the classes I was good at, and hated and avoided the subjects in which I lacked aptitude (looking at you, geometry). But then I grew up (well, a little) and met this handsome boy not afraid to suck at things. He’d fearlessly invest time and money in a new hobby, limp along, and figure it out.

We see this throughout the Bible, too. Moses, for instance, was a terrible public speaker and still got recruited. And I’m not entirely sure sanctity is about efficacy, either.

My husband is a polymath, so the odds are stacked in his favor in a way they probably are not for me. (I’m not sure there’s enough practice in the world to help me understand Euclid, and he still laughs at that time he walked in on me doing a pregnancy exercise video.) But I came to admire that willingness to be bad at something, and even to imitate it a bit: in Uganda, where you were expected to just improvise and figure things out; in homeownership, where my dad cobbles together brilliant solutions and learns on the job; certainly in parenting where I find myself hitting Wiffle balls and doing funny voices while I read and trying not to be so damn self conscious.

Life is more interesting, for sure.

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