Math is my thorn. It creeps through my brain like a crippled snail.
In my early years of pigtails and knee socks, I could add and subtract with the best of the smarties, but when division and fractions were introduced, I hit the pause button and it stuck, rusting down to unrecognizable gunk.
It kept my GPA at a boring average. I ached that smart meant fined tuned on the technical side of the brain. Whoever decided that measure of intelligence has slayed the confidence of a thousand souls… and probably has misguided concepts about the other side of the gray matter.
Mrs. T. got me through junior high. She was the 7th grade teacher as well as the
band teacher, and fellow artist. A kindred spirit, that blond haired, billow-skirted teacher who seemed, at the time, a smidge shy of seven feet.
She had a perfectly coiffed blonde hair-do along with a glorious temper. A mandrake from Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry could not compete with Mrs. T.’s screech. Don’t. Make. Her. Mad.
My ears are still ringing. Thankfully, she liked me.
I joined the band and several of us played the flute along with an electric guitar, a bass guitar and a drum set. Rockin’ Robin and Johnny B. Good still hold a special place in my heart. She trusted me to wing it when we performed a little jazz for the school. Awesome.
I suspect she kept me afloat by adding some artwork I did as extra credit…
She also gave me the golden nugget that kept me feeling like more than a crippled snail – confidence in me.
Something about artists…we are a clan of misfits. Our culture calls the arts wonderful and important…until budgets need cutting and then we are just hobbyists. People who need real jobs; dreamers, strange, rebellious people.
Mr. M. encouraged me through High School. My art teacher extraordinaire could pull off mismatched socks better than anyone. While in the midst of an art project, he entertained us with stories about his clunker of a truck and taking off on a road trip with Jimmy Swaggert. He was kidding, of course, but proved his creativity with storytelling as well as the paintbrush. He was also one of the few teachers who refrained from comparing me to my older, smartie pants brother. He just saw me.
Many of the traditional teachers and administration thought him an oddball – our community thought art was nice, but understood sports. That’s where the funds went. So we painted on broken tables. If the table got bumped, better grab it or your painting became a Jackson Pollock (unless, of course, that’s your thing).
Mr. M. taught me that being an artist would automatically be thought of as rebellious by the pleated pants type, and that was ok. “Be you”, he said.
And no hard feelings toward the pleated pantsters – someone has to balance the budget, and for that accomplishment I give my gratitude.
I joined band my senior year, but there was no winging it, everything was ship-shape, shiny and structured. It was okay, but I put my flute down that year and went on to other more rebellious endeavors.
College art came easily; creative English assignments and all things teetering over the edge of normal felt great. My GPA even soared when I completed my math (imprisonment) classes.
There was a little career detour, but hey, that’s what happens when Jackson Pollock spills on your life.
God is lovely and has offered us all a place in His family, the body of Christ. Some may be the dreadlocks, some may be the pleated pants, but He is no respecter of persons (He even has a few special mentions for us misfits).
He mentions the original non-technicals, by name, in the Bible.
Then Moses said to the people of Israel, “See, the LORD has called by name Bezalel the son of Uri, son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah; and he has filled him with the Spirit of God, with skill, with intelligence, with knowledge, and with all craftsmanship, to devise artistic designs, to work in gold and silver and bronze, in cutting stones for setting, and in carving wood, for work in every skilled craft. And he has inspired him to teach, both him and Oholiab the son of Ahisamach of the tribe of Dan…Exodus 35: 30-34.
His brother’s name was Jubal; he was the father of all who play stringed instruments and pipes. Geneses 4:21
We are not meant to hold each others abilities to the standards of our culture, but to the standards of God’s. If He lists the names of artists in His great book, I feel at peace with being me.
Be you today.
Do you have any similar experiences? Tell us in the comments.