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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Father (as in paternal parent, not God) (04/10/08)

TITLE: Principles of Geometry
By Glynis Becker


Dictionary’s definition of geometry: The mathematics of the properties, measurement, and relationships of points, lines, angles, surfaces, and solids (American Heritage Dictionary)

My definition of geometry: class required for graduation from high school which inspires fear, loathing, frustration, shouting matches with parents and many, many tears

Enter: my father, whose years as a career military officer and college degree in mathematics education, along with his faith, might be what gave him the edge to withstand the strain and difficulty of training his daughter in the finer points of geometry.

Every night, I would sit at the dining room table, pencil in hand, notebook at my elbow, while Dad knelt on the floor next to me. I would sigh. He would say, “Let’s try it one more time.”

I would run my fingers through my hair (or try anyway; this was 1987, after all, and the hair-spray was definitely not made for the natural look). He would just pat me on the back and tap his finger on the textbook.

I would start to cry, saying, “When am I ever going to need this?” He would smile and say, “Trust me. You’ll need it someday.”

I would pout. “I just don’t get it.” He would say, “Don’t worry. You’ll get it. You’re just not used to having to work at it so hard. You’re smart. Geometry isn’t going to beat you.”

Not surprisingly, my dad was right. I did get it (or enough of it to pass the class with a B average). And yes, I did need it. (It was fairly essential to the engineering degree I later graduated from college with.) But it wasn’t just geometry that I learned that year.

For many reasons, God gives us earthly, temporary families to teach us heavenly, eternal truths. During that season, through my father’s encouragement, love and prayer, I saw the patience of God.

How often does my Heavenly Father say to me, “Child, just try it once more. I know you can do this or I would have given up on you by now.” Or sometimes He says, “I know you don’t think you need this, but I know that you will. Learn it now, so I can teach you something even better.”

Thank you, Daddy, for showing me more than just the principles of geometry and for making a frustrating, angst-ridden year of school into a lesson in patience and encouragement that I can pass on to my own children.

“Hear, O sons, the instruction of a father,
And give attention that you may gain understanding.”
Proverbs 4:1 (NASB)

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Sara Harricharan 04/17/08
I love your opening! It made me chuckle here, too funny to read your definition of geometry! I liked watching-this felt more like a movie than a story-the scenes unfold and could see you sitting on the floor with your Dad helping you understand the geometry. Loved this piece! A favorite of mine for this week! great writing! ^_^
Gregory Kane04/21/08
Wow, what an excellent application! At school I never really got to grips with geometry (I blame the teacher) but years later I found myself having to teach it while living in Africa. To my great surprise and delight, I found that geometry was beautiful in its logical progression. My students however didn’t share the same excitement …
Jan Ackerson 04/21/08
Really readable voice, and a superb object lesson.

I have an aversion to stories that open with a dictionary definition, but your approach to it was very unique. I also think it'd work if you just started with your definition--quite funny.
Joanney Uthe04/21/08
I loved your definition of geometry. I know a few kids that would agree with it. Great message delivered in a fun, engaging manner.
Debbie Wistrom04/21/08
You did this so well that I went back to a time that was difficult for me too. Well done and right on. The biblical tie in wrapped it up in a neat package.
Joshua Janoski04/22/08
I liked how you began this one with the two definitions. I also liked the lesson being taught about God's love and patience.

Great read. Thank you so much for sharing.
Catrina Bradley 03/15/09
Congratulations on having this story turned into a WONDERFUL drama! I loved it (the story and the short film, and the message most of all.)