The other day I was coloring with a very young boy named Ben. Ben was having a blast sloshing red, green and blue markers around on a piece of paper. I had no clue what he was making, but boy was it colorful.
When we were finished coloring and ready to move onto a new activity, Ben wanted to help put the markers away. He grabbed the red marker in his left hand, and the marker’s cap with his right.
After about a minute, the cap was still not on the marker and Ben’s right hand was covered in red ink. He was trying his darnedest to get that cap on the marker, but it just wasn’t happening. He was like Shaq shooting a free throw — he could hit the rim, but just couldn’t get the dang thing to go in.
We all have been in Ben’s shoes. As kids, each one of us struggled to put a cap on a marker or the square block in the right hole. Manual dexterity is a big, and often frustrating, part of our physical development.
But we probably don’t remember that. That was so long ago, and the struggle seems silly when we are texting with one hand and gripping coffee with the other. We have such command over our heads, shoulders, knees and toes, that we wonder how we ever failed at putting a cap on a marker.
Our ability to coordinate our hand and finger movements to grasp and manipulate objects is no small task. It is a challenge that we struggled with and overcame.
If we can handle that, we can definitely handle starting a new job, or public speaking, or figuring out iTunes. In the midst of any struggle, we think we will never advance. Our confidence is shot, our future is clouded and our hands are covered in red marker.
But hope is not lost. We learned before and we can learn again. And again. And as we learn, the pain of the struggle will dull until eventually we will all but forget that we struggled in the first place. Much like we did when putting a cap on a marker.