Have a Little Faith

I need to start listening to my own advice.

Today, I was tutoring a friend’s daughter in algebra. A smart, confident girl, she got particularly frustrated at one point, letting her pencil fall, heaving a giant sigh, and saying, “It’s just not worth it. I don’t think I can do this. I don’t think I’ll ever do this.”

I picked the pencil up, put it back in her hand, stared straight in her eyes, and said, “Yes, you can. You just need to have a little faith.”

Except in calculus. No amount of faith can save you there. I advise running far, far away.

After a few tries, many eraser marks, and some elbow grease, she was able to work out the exact problem she thought she was incapable of solving. I was so proud of her, but more importantly, she was proud of herself.

Lately, I’ve been finding myself worrying more and more about our friend who has cancer. I find myself oscillating between being very positive, and seeing everything turning out alright, and, well, the opposite of that. I’m an optimist by nature, but sometimes there are certain things you just have to be real about. I’ve yet to decide which this is. I think I need to have a little faith myself.

We got a call from our friend, who let us know that the doctors believed they figured out his cancer had not spread to his other organs (so it’s not stage 4), nor are the cancer cells themselves very mature, so there’s a decent possibility that the stage could be lower. Hopes are high; he goes in for surgery within the next few weeks, where they’ll find out more and hopefully be able to remove some of what’s there. He asked us to keep up with the good thoughts and, coincidentally, faith.

Perhaps that’s my resolution for the year. I never officially set one, and though I don’t particularly feel the need to set one, I don’t see any harm in reminding myself, the same way my student did, that sometimes, all you need is a few tries, many eraser marks, some elbow grease…and a little faith.