Several times throughout the Gospels, the disciples seem slow to learn what Jesus is trying to teach them. They don’t understand his parables, they are surprised by his miracles, and they ask questions about things they should already know. Their confusion makes sense … Jesus was teaching and preaching about an entirely new way to live. He was calling people to be in relationship with God and with each other in ways that they had not previously considered.
I try to remember those disciples when I am having a hard time learning how Jesus is calling me to live. If the people who were the very closest to Jesus struggled to learn how best to follow him, certainly we will struggle sometimes as well. It is not easy to learn how to radically love people – especially those who are difficult to love. It is a challenge to learn how to care for all when there is such overwhelming need. It is difficult to learn to forgive when I have been wronged and would prefer to hold on to my grudge.
In these moments, I offer myself some grace, remembering that it was difficult for the disciples to learn these things as well. I also remind myself that the disciples did not give up. Even when Jesus got frustrated at their slow pace of learning, they continued to do their very best to follow him. They continued to learn how to love and serve – even when it was difficult and even when they made mistakes. Following Jesus will always be a challenge, but may each day be a process of learning how best to be a disciple.