Even though my hair is silver, and I’m a card-carrying member of AARP, I still ponder the wisdom my maternal grandmother, Mama Farley, possessed. The world undoubtedly saw her as a simple Appalachian mountain woman, but her strength and understanding of life rippled out to her extended family and beyond. And even though she never had read Henry Ford’s quotation of “Whether you think you can or you can’t, you’ll be right,” she understood the power of confidence. In fact, she summarized the King James Version of Proverbs 23:7a—-“For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he”—-with her own interpretation: “Believin’ makes it so.” If I said I couldn’t get the dumplings right, she’d add a quiet “Believin’ makes it so, honey,” as she checked the amount of flour I used. She refused to let any of her grandchildren accept defeat before we had exhausted every creative solution. If no solution was possible, she had a saying for that, too: “There are some things in life that all you can do with ’em is bear ’em.”
Years later, when I’d captured my dream of becoming a classroom teacher, I read a study stressing the importance of helping children believe in themselves. I’ve forgotten the study’s name, but I do remember it involved giving students a test and then reporting to the teachers higher scores for those students who had received the lowest ones. Since the teachers believed the students could do a better job—and told them so—the students believed it also and unfailingly lived up to their teachers’ expectations.
Mable, an elderly friend, modeled this principle for me when she enrolled in college when she was in her eighties. She had raised her family, helped her widowed daughter raise hers, and then decided it was time to do what she’d always wanted to do: get an education. Because she believed she could accomplish her dream, she did exactly that. When she died in her nineties, she was making plans to start her master’s degree.
If a dream seems unachievable, we can look at it another way. Barbara regretted not getting an education but, at 43, she wasn’t about to sit through four years of teen classes. Then she heard about the GED (graduate equivalency degree) that would take the place of her high school diploma. Within a month of passing the test—on the first try—she signed up for classes at the local community college and was working toward her dream.
And we shouldn’t hesitate to add “silly” things to our believin’ lists, too. As Jean approached her seventieth birthday, she regretted activities she had never had an opportunity to learn, particularly roller-skating. Something inside her demanded she call the local rink to check on lessons. Though she was the oldest one in the beginners’ class, and was decked out in knee and elbow pads and a helmet, she learned! And she didn’t break anything in the process. Once she’d achieved that goal, she decided to tackle something else. Soon her list was rather lengthy, and she decided she had so many fun things planned she didn’t have time to get old.
So let’s ponder this: If God has placed a dream within us, He will help us achieve it. So let’s take a deep breath, grab His hand and step forward. Remember: “Believin’ makes it so.”