Be diligent in these matters; give yourself wholly to them, so that everyone may see your progress. Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers. 1 Timothy 4:15-16 (NIV)
“Don’t quit” has always been my motto, but I’m rethinking that philosophy. Life’s too short to waste on something you don’t enjoy or that doesn’t have meaning. I’m contemplating quitting an art class I’m taking. For several years, I’ve been fascinated with the art of enameling where you take small pieces of metal, like copper or silver, paint on it with finally ground colored glass and fire it to a high temperature so that the enamel sticks to the metal with a lovely bright sheen. It is so beautiful and looks so simple, that I determined that I wanted to learn how to enamel. Instead, I took up fusing glass which I love, but enameling continued to lure me. Over time, I took two weekend classes in the art, but was not satisfied with my experience. I didn’t really like what I made or the process of enameling, but kept making excuses. The class was too short. The class was too detailed. The instruction poor. Surely, if I found the correct amount of time and the right method of enameling, I would love the craft like I was convinced I should. Finally, our local art center offered a five week class in enameling, and I rearranged my work schedule to attend. In the middle of the second class, I realized something important. I don’t like enameling. In fact, I’m pretty close to hating it. It is very tedious and time consuming. There is a large margin of error so that chances are high whatever you are have invested hours into making will turn out awful. Most importantly, I am challenged to learn something new. I don’t like being a beginner and not being able to do something good the first time. Perhaps glass fusing is an easy craft to learn, but I picked it up fast and well. Instead, enameling is so difficult I despair of being able to ever make anything beautiful. I was so upset by that realization that I stood in the middle of the art center studio staring at my little copper bowl that didn’t look anything like I thought it would be and almost started to cry. I think that the instructor noticed my distress. She knows I fuse glass and brought out a box of tiny glass fragments and suggested I embellish the bowl with the pieces and then, place it back in the kiln for another firing. Working with a familiar medium, I began to feel better. While my bowl still looks amateurish, I might be able to finish out the class now, though I will never be an enamellist. My frustration made me think about how as Christians, we expect new believers to change their ways and act like Christ from the moment of conversion. We need to cut them some slack. No one will be perfect at least here on this earth. What’s important is that we don’t quit trying because unlike my art, following Christ has eternal value.