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Believing in Yourself
(Have the confidence that you can things).

  • English = A
  • History = A
  • Biology = A
  • Art = A
  • Economics = A
  • Algebra = D

That is what my report cards looked like every single six weeks of my twelve years in school. A good student, I had absolutely no trouble in any subject, but math. All through school, I would dread walking into Math class because I knew I would walk out feeling lower about myself than I ever wanted to feel. I can remember sitting in the front of the class, trying so hard to understand and yet always knowing that the material was completely beyond my grasp. To this very day, a sophomore in college, the six year old little boy I adopted, can do Math better than I can.

Finally, somewhere along the fourth grade, I gave up trying and told myself that I just couldn’t do math. I tried but I could not pass the tests to save my life. I always told everyone it was because math doesn’t make sense to me. 2 plus 2 is 4 but why isn’t it three or six? Teachers used to look at me and say, "It just is," But I couldn’t accept that and because my mind couldn’t understand the reasoning, I couldn’t work the problems.

Then I got to the sixth grade. I never failed a math class but I only passed by the skin of my teeth and I had absolutely zero confidence in my ability to work out even a simple math problem. Someone could have told me that 5 plus 2 was eight and even though I would have known that not to be true, I would have believed it, no matter what I thought "knew" because I knew how terrible I was in math. The sixth grade helped boost my confidence a little.

It was in the sixth grade that I met Mrs. Hogshead, my math teacher. All through math class, I skimmed by and then here came this major test that counted for a major portion of our grade. I studied. I tried. I failed with a forty something. I was saddened, but I thought, "Well, what did I expect? A miracle?"

Little did I know that’s exactly what I was getting. Mrs. Hogshead kept me after class to ask me if I wanted to retake the test the following day. Thrilled, I said, "Sure!"

I failed the exact same test again, this time with a 56. I wasn’t happy but a 56 was better than a 42. Mrs. Hogshead didn’t think so. She asked me if I wanted to take it again. She even allowed me to take it home. I could have asked my mother for help, or my genius of a younger sister but I was so worried about maintaining her trust in me that I didn’t ask for help.

I failed the test with a 68.

Mrs. Hogshead wanted to retake the test yet again. I was becoming discouraged. I mean, I had already f ailed the same stinking test three times. But, by this time, I was determined to show her I could do it, to live up to the belief I knew she had in me. I took the test for the fourth time and aced it. I don’t think I’ve ever been as proud of anything in my entire life. I hugged her and thanked her, and Mrs. Hogshead said, "I knew you were trying, and that’s what counted." In my book, what counted was that she believed in me enough to do that.

So many times, I think we feel as though our efforts to do the things we know to be right go in vain, unrecognized. I thought I was the most unrecognizable kid in any math class at all. But I wasn’t. I was quiet. I didn’t cheat and I tried so hard to pass every test that Mrs. Hogshead knew I was trying and wanted me to know that, with persistence, effort pays off.

You may feel as though everyone ignores you but I promise you, Jesus Christ is not ignoring you, and one day you will discover that, while most everyone on earth, may not have recognized your efforts, He always has. And one day, the people that love you will too. I have, over the years, learnt that it doesn’t change the love that God and my family have for me if I can’t do algebra. What’s more important is knowing that I try to do what’s difficult for me and that I remember to be true to myself. As Abraham Lincoln once said, "I am not bound to win but I am bound to live up to the light I have."