Solve for Y
My mother never particularly liked math, but I remember one thing she always told me when I was younger about algebra. When kids would say, “But algebra? When are we ever going to use this?” My mom would say, “I use it every day. Algebra says, ‘Let x stand for the unknown,’ and let me tell you, there’s a lot of unknowns in my life.”
The other day I was reading a book about how to make a quality school or a quality classroom. As I read, the author kept saying how it is critical to get a student to understand why they need to learn whatever you are teaching. He said the failure to do so is one reason students get burned out and tune out.
The famous question, “When am I ever gonna need this?” comes to mind. If kids don’t see the correlation between what they are learning and what they are going to need later in life, a few might learn it. Most will learn it and then promptly forget it. Others will never bother to learn it at all.
We see this as adults in people we work with. They show up to work. They even do some work. But they do it half-heartedly and can’t wait for five o’clock to show up so they can go do something that really means something to them.
Unfortunately we also see this in our families these days too. Couples get in a rut of going through the routine of days until the routine has become the relationship instead of the relationship setting the routine. With our kids we have short fuses and even shorter attention spans. It’s ever so much easier to set them in front of a Playstation and forget they exist than to make an effort to connect with them and get to know them.
I think the main issue behind all of this “opting out” of life goes back to algebra. We are not solving for y.
Why am I doing this? Oh, we ask ourselves that in a fit of frustration, but we never really bother to answer it.
Why am I raising this family? When we get to the end, what do we want this family to be, and are the moments we have now pointing in that direction or some other entirely?
Why am I at work? To earn a few dollars that will be gone in a month or a minute?
Why am I alive? To “get through”?
I don’t think God’s answer to why is about surviving or getting through or just anything… I think God’s answer has to do with abundance of living.
If we are “just getting by,” why are we settling for that? Of course, we don’t have to make wholesale changes like quitting our job or moving to a new state. We can simply shift our understanding of why.
Why am I raising my family? Because God granted me the gift of these children and this spouse. No, they are not perfect, but even God doesn’t require perfection. My job is to love them, to guide them, and to support and encourage them the best that I can with God doing most of it through me. That is my y.
At work, the answer is much the same. I’m not working to be top dog because if I am, someone is coming up very quickly to knock me off of that spot. No. I’m at work to share Christ’s love—not necessarily by evangelizing but by loving those who work with me. I can pray for them. I can help them. I can support them. That can be my new y.
I plan to ask my Sunday School class when we start a new year to solve for y. Why are you here? Why do you come on Sundays? Why is this important?
So now I ask you that question: Why are you here–on this planet, in this family, in this situation right now?
Solve for y.
It makes a difference.
Copyright Staci Stallings, 2008