In my classes at the university, I sometimes give my students extra credit. Most of the time, it is specific to the subject matter I’m teaching, but occasionally I mix it up and ask them to do something that will stretch their brain and get them out of their comfort zone. For example, i’ve asked them to partner up with a fellow student and learn a hand-clap (or hand-jive) song. They all looked at me confused and stunned and anxious, but by the end of the three-hour course, everyone had earned their extra credit points. And, they were smiling and happy! Anyway, this semester I also gave them the chance to earn some extra credit by…completing a Suduko puzzle.
I actually love Sudoku and how it challenges you to think hard but doesn’t require any specific math skills. And I honestly believe that everyone should know how to play it and should attempt it at least once even if they decide they hate it. And so I went on Amazon to try to find a book of easy Sudoku puzzles, and actually found one called “Sudoku for Grandma: 50 Easy Large Print Puzzles.” With 49 students in my course, everyone would get a unique puzzle, and everyone (I hoped) would be filled with excitement and enthusiasm at the opportunity to exercise their mind. Alas, when I presented the idea to them, a few smiled but no one jumped for joy or anything like that. Most were like, um, what?
So then I explained them the rules, and I grabbed one and projected it onto the main screen for them to see, and was like, “Okay, so, everyone just watch me, I’m going to show you how easy this is.”
But it was not.
And I got all flustered, and was like, “What is wrong with me, this is Sudoku for Grandma! It says “Easy” right on the cover!” And everyone laughed but at this point, I didn’t want to entertain them, I wanted to show them I could do this and prove that they could too.
“What is wrong with me, this is Sudoku for Grandma! It says “Easy” right on the cover!”
But I seriously could not fill in a single number. Not a single one. I think that I just succumbed to the pressure I was under, with 49 of them staring at me and expecting me to solve it. I just got stuck, and I couldn’t think, and my mind turned to mush.
And so I was like, “I can’t focus right now, I’m sorry. I promise this is doable. And I will solve it. I give you my word, I am not going to ask anyone for help, or get any clues about how to solve my puzzle. I’m going to solve it myself. And I want you to try to solve yours yourself. And we’ll regroup next week.”
Well, guess what. I came home and tried. And then I flew to a conference and tried. And then I came home and tried some more. And I had the most miserable week. I wanted to ask Rachel for help. I wanted to check the Answers at the back of the book just to see if I was on the right track. I wanted to get a clue from somewhere to move me along. But nope. I couldn’t. I had given my word to my students.
WHY DID I DO THAT?!?!?!?!?!!!!
I don’t know. I shouldn’t have. But I did. And that’s the point.
From early on in my life, even before becoming a teenager, I have wanted to be someone who does what they say they are going to do. This was because I was so sensitive (and hurt by) the hypocrisy I saw all around me, with so many people in various spheres of life saying one thing, and then doing something else. I know it’s typically not because of evil intentions, but rather simply due to laziness.
From early on in my life, even before becoming a teenager, I have wanted to be someone who does what they say they are going to do. This was because I was so sensitive (and hurt by) the hypocrisy I saw all around me.
People say they will call you to check in, and they don’t.
People say they will pray for you, and don’t.
People say they will help you knock out a project, and they don’t.
That’s okay, that’s not even something that bothers me anymore. But it’s really inspired me to be different. And so I’ve prioritized it. And if I can’t do something, I don’t say I am going to do it. James talks about making sure your “yes” means yes, and your “no” means no. Moses encouraged us to be careful do to what has passed our lips. And David said that those who keep their promises even when it hurts them and do not change their mind are people who not only will experience God way more closely than most, but also people who will never be shaken. That’s freaking awesome. I want that. Don’t you?
Those who keep their promises even when it hurts them and do not change their mind are people who not only will experience God way more closely than most, but also people who will never be shaken.
It’s possible only if we keep our word.
So I’ve put in 11 hours so far on this Sudoku puzzle. You might think that’s such a colossal and even foolish waste of time. And I won’t try to convince you otherwise, because it honestly feels that way when I’m struggling to put the right numbers in the right boxes.
But I said I wouldn’t get help.
And so I’m not going to get help.
And even if it takes me an hour here and an hour there for the rest of my life, I’m going to solve it by myself, because I said I would. I’m going to keep my word to my students.