Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Competent confusion

I was more confused than usual reading the chapter on competence. It was posted on-line and I had it blown up 200% to make reading a bit easier on my eyes. I couldn't shake the feeling that things were not making sense. I would be okay in the middle of the page but moving from page to page left me re-scrolling up and down to see if I had skipped something. Slowly it dawned on me: the pages were out of order: 62, 63, 60, 61, 58, 59, etc.

The really sad thing is it took me half an hour to figure it out.

The other day the research we read talked about testing motivation with reading passages that were purposefully confusing to see how long the subjects would persevere. I wondered if this is what the professor was attempting to replicate? I started to panic; what if I did not have the correct kind of motivation? What if I had an entity view of intelligence instead of the much more productive incremental view? What if my attributions were about blame which would obviously mean that I didn't have what it takes to succeed? What if all of this was in vain? Maybe my deepest fear is true – I am not competent to see this assignment to its completion.

Take a deep breath, have some chocolate, relax.

Our first discussion in this class was over a reading that basically took 20 pages of really big words to tell us that we cannot trust the meaning of any terms. Most of my studying this last year has been an effort to bring me up to speed on vocabulary, so I can hope to comprehend what is on the textbook page. Now they tell me that the words I have been writing down in my notes and committing to memory have no meaning.

It is times like these when it is really great to be a child of God. When you have faith you have certainty. When I worry that I am not good enough, or smart enough, or motivated enough; my faith reassures me that I am right. In fact, I can do nothing.

I am so very glad this doesn't depend on me. God is good enough, God is smart enough; God is in control. Sometimes He puts the pages in the right order and gives me a glimpse of His plan. Other times, He tells me to just keep on reading, writing, listening and learning.

When I read my psychology text books I get an interesting picture of mankind's folly. We strive to understand ourselves and how we think, work and hopefully, thrive in the world in which we live. The folly is in believing that we can understand ourselves. One of the researchers cited in my textbook is named Eccles. See if you don't think this is God's sense of humor:

"Meaningless! Meaningless!" says the Teacher.

"Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless."

Eccles 1: 2

It is meaningless, isn't it? I don't mean to say the work God asks us to do is useless. He has a purpose for everything that happens and a promise to bring good out of it. It is just that it is meaningless to us because we are the children and not the Father; we are the tools and not the Artist. We are to trust and obey, to believe and have faith, to work and to wonder. We leave the meaning and the outcome up to God. Now that makes sense.

And whatever you do, whether in word or deed,

do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus,

giving thanks to God the Father through Him.

Colossians 3:17

1 comment:

Walquist said...

I'm wondering when you're going to take these blogs and publish them into a devotional book. Each devotion brings me to tears. I wish you could publish them and reach more people. (Oh, and I probably won't stop insisting until you do there!) Thanks for your encouragement through your words.