Throughout my entire childhood, Wednesday nights have been spent at Lake Bible Church. From 6:30p.m. to 8:15p.m., I attended the A.W.A.N.A. club. When I was three years old, I experienced my first night in a section of the club called Cubbies. There, the volunteer leaders taught us songs, games, stories, and most importantly, Bible verses. Each Cubbie was given a handbook, which contained Bible verses and activities. We were to complete the book by the end of the A.W.A.N.A. year. Each week at home, my parents would help me memorize the verses, and work through the Biblical games and activities. Then, on Wednesday night, I would recite the verses I had worked diligently on memorizing all week long. For two years, I got to enjoy the fun at Cubbies. However, as I entered kindergarten, I graduated from Cubbies, and got promoted into Sparkies. Sparkies followed the same concept as Cubbies, except the Bible verses we memorized were longer, and we had game time and counsel time, rather than craft time and snack time. After I completed kindergarten, first, and second grade, I advanced into the section of the club called T&T, or Truth and Training. As I got older, the handbooks were reasonably altered. There were sections that were required for me to complete, and there were also sections that were extra credit, or not required. As I began to work through my handbook in third, fourth, and fifth grade, I began to find myself getting very busy. I was enrolled in other extracurricular activities such as volleyball and band, and my homework load began to increase both in amount and difficulty. Although it was challenging, I finished my handbooks, as well as most of the not required sections.
Following this, as I ventured into the sixth grade and my final year of A.W.A.N.A., completing my handbook looked like a daunting and unattainable goal. With my mind focused on the task at hand, I began to map out how many sections I was obliged to accomplish each week in order to complete not only the handbook, but the extra credit sections as well. By doing this, I was making a promise to myself to work hard, push myself, and check sections off of my mental “to-do list.” In hindsight, the most efficient way to approach the task would have been to pace myself and spend a few minutes every night preparing, working, and memorizing. However, my life slowly started cutting into my quiet work time. I combatted this by advancing my time-management skills. I learned that every second counts, and that our time is precious and limited.
For example, there were many Tuesday nights that my brother, Brandon, had basketball practice. In order to make the most of our time, my mom and I drove to our local library. While we were there, I finished various homework assignments and reviewed the Bible verse I was to recite the following evening. My mom was always there with an outreached hand, ready and willing to quiz me on the information and verses I was trying to retain.
“Mom, will you please quiz me on this Bible verse?” I often asked.
“Sure, Megan,” my mom graciously answered.
During this year, I also began to realize that the exponential amount of time I spent in the car every day was being completely wasted. Thus, I started implanting changes into the ways I used the down time. I often brought my A.W.A.N.A. handbook into the car, and reviewed during the long commutes to and from school and other activities. Car rides that were not spent memorizing verses were often spent completing homework assignments in the hopes of more free time at home. However, as much as I tried to prepare ahead of time, the drives to A.W.A.N.A. on Wednesday nights were, more often than not, spent looking over and memorizing my verses for that night.
As I worked through the handbook, the small victories brought me joy, such as finishing a challenge, or chapter. However, with each milestone I attained, I reminded myself that although I was working hard, I could be working harder. With the clock as my competition, I pushed myself to work harder, faster, and longer. My mind was filled to the top and overflowing with Bible verses, references, and Biblical questions and answers. I had memorized such a large amount of verses, that one of my biggest problems in reciting the verses was getting the verse references mixed up. I often sat cross-legged in my bedroom, with my pen, highlighter, handbook, and Bible nearby. I poured myself into each section, marking up and folding the pages, as I attempted to retain the verses and information. Utilizing my creativity, I came up with many memorization tools such as acronyms and songs.
After what felt like forever, I completed my handbook. However, despite the fact that it would have been easy to conclude my hard work, I quickly set my eyes and heart onto the goal that I aspired to reach, which was completing the extra credit sections. Again, I charted out the amount of sections I had to accomplish per night, and continued to push myself. My ambition and passion for the goal I wished to reach, advanced my mentality and work ethic to become more efficient and effective.
Many Wednesday nights, schoolwork was pushed to the backburner, as Bible verses took the forefront of my mind. Generally, I would not arrive home until almost 9p.m. At this time, I would settle in and work as best I could with the little energy I still had left, to complete my homework as thoroughly as possible.
Finally, one warm, Wednesday evening in May, I watched in awe as my leader gracefully autographed her magnificent signature and flourished a couple congratulatory designs onto the small black line that meant everything to me.
“Great job, Megan,” my leader proclaimed, “You have worked so hard!”
“Thank you! I am so glad I finally finished it,” I replied back, happily. That moment was one that I will forever reflect upon, as my heart bursted with accomplishment, joy, and pride in the effort which I had exerted into completing the handbook.
The next week, at the award ceremony, I could not wipe the smile off of my face as I rose to my feet.
“Megan Erb,” I heard, as I scrambled onto the stage.
“Congrats,” I whispered quietly to the other girls on the stage.
“Thank you, you too,” they whispered back, just as quietly. I gratefully accepted the Timothy Award, which was the award that signified completion of all four handbooks. Next, I bowed my head to receive the medal, which was for completing the extra credit sections. As I stood on the stage next to the few other girls who had managed to accomplish an identical feat, I listened to the joyous clapping of my family and friends. I also heard clapping from those who may not have known me personally, but were still proud, due to the wonderful church family atmosphere our church holds between its walls.
Two years later, every Wednesday night, as I listen to my young Cubbies recite their Bible verses to me, memories flood back to my mind. Although I was happy and proud to have completed my handbook, I often remind myself that reaching the finish line is not always what matters most. It was the effort and discipline that was poured into the overall accomplishment that was truly worth being joyful about. Furthermore, I reflect upon the fact that I had set my mind on something, worked hard, and achieved my goal. I learned to push myself to my full capability, and to perform everything I did to my fullest potential. However, as I looked back upon the experience in its entirety, I realized that I could have worked harder. I could have had more self-discipline and I could have managed my time better. There is always room for improvement, even after the goal is reached. These words are engraved inside my mind, reminding myself to always work hard as I push myself to accomplish bigger and better things than I did yesterday.