Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Math

OK, so I'm NOT a math person, not that this fact was ever in doubt.  Math and I have had a rather hostile relationship since seventh grade when I encountered long division ala Mrs. Irwin who had terrible halitosis. Fortunately, when she stood at the front of the classroom, it wasn't an issue.  Unfortunately, my inablity in the subject meant she daily leaned over my shoulder to assist me in my struggle.  I think it was then that I started wearing turtlenecks--and realized that the name actually explained the best part of those sweaters.  I lived with my nose stuck in my sweater that year, and it took just about that long to conquer long division (OK, so I really think we did division in 6th grade, but it makes a good story--I can't even remember what we studied in 7th).

And then there was the kafuffle of my first year in high school, where the math block really grew.  I mean, I struggled with math when it was associated with numbers but suddenly, for no apparent reason that I could discern, some genius out there decided to use the alphabet.  ARE YOU KIDDING ME?  On top of that, I was placed in an independent study class.  UH-oh.  My sister, two years younger but only a year behind me in school, was also in that class, though she was only in 8th grade.  Everything I hate about math--er, and algebra, geometry, and don't get me started on calculus!--she loves.  And she soared in that independent study class.  Not me, baby.  Well, I enjoyed the class.  I mean, what's not to love?  No one was forcing me to actually study if I didn't want to, so I just sat around and talked with my friends.  By the end of the year, even my father had been to a conference with Mr. Ostetler, which was highly irregular in our family.  My parents lowered the boom, so to speak, and I squeaked out the work by the time school ended. My parents' tactics of rewards and even sheer bribery ruled the day and I moved on to geometry--but didn't take another independent study class until I was 40 years old and in my second stint in grad school.

OK, so the point is, it literally makes my head hurt to do anything other than simple math.  And this weakness raised its confounding head today.  I started a new quilt a couple of days ago and suddenly realized today that I completely messed up the math needed to cut the right number of squares for it.  I just tripled the number I needed...when I should have cubed it.  Sigh.

Are your eyes glazing over?  Yep, mine too.  Luckily for me, E came home from work about that time, and she got all the math genes from my family that clearly passed me by.  I was scribbling all over paper, trying to figure it out, but she just sat down at the other end of the couch, did a few calculations in her head, and came up with the right number.  So off I went to slit my wrists--er, make that my finger with the rotary blade.

It takes all kinds, I tell myself.  I don't have to be good at math in order to be a fully functioning human being. And by the same token, though it's a little hard for me to imagine, people live perfectly acceptable--even fulfilling--lives without reading a book a week (I was going to say 'a day' but thought that might sound unlikely, even if it is true in my family).  Yep, it takes all kinds.  The hand, the foot, the toenails of God's Body.  We're all something in His economy.  This makes me feel a jolt of joy to know that He made me this way--THIS very way.  In my earthly family, I might be a bundle of recessive genes, but in His economy, I am who He intends, so only need one simple equation: Jesus + me = resurrection life.

That's it.  That's all I've got today.  After expending my modicum of algebraic energy on quilting equations, I have little left to think theologically--or even think at all.  So I'll just lay down my pencil (and rotary cutter!) and thank God!

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