Beyond Math

Beyond Math

by Jan Powell


 n him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, in order that we, who were the first to put our hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory.

(Ephesians 1:11-12, NIV).


Memorizing addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division facts succeeded because my mother bought flashcards and drilled us. Despite the fascinating aspects of numbers, they still scored low on my interest scale.

The school curriculum confirmed the unhappy fact that math would be an ongoing part of my studies, whether I liked it or not. So, I plodded, stuck with teachers who simply repeated the same explanation even if I didn’t get it. So, I still didn’t get it. It appeared there was only one way to Rome or, in the case of math, to the correct answer.

If only I’d only been taught by my friend LeAnn, a former math coach. Hearing her describe the multiple ways she taught math revealed the deficit in my background. I’ve even been encouraged by her well-known saying, “No work, no credit.”

In high school, I had two years of substitutes.  The district didn’t replace the regular teacher battling cancer, in order to protect his insurance coverage. The subs would say something like, “Read the book and do the problems.” Being in class with the brightest students further undermined my confidence.

I graduated. Attended college. And did poorly in math. These experiences supported my unspoken suspicion I wasn’t smart.  This settled inside me like concrete. My dad called me “stupid” and I lived in the shadow of an older sister who was a valedictorian, a Presidential Scholar, and much more.

Thirty-plus years in abusive relationships solidified my insecurity. Before computers and flash drives, one abusive husband made me destroy everything I’d ever written. My dream was almost annihilated.

Some people have more support and fewer challenges.  Yet, we all have inner and or outer obstacles.  When we realize words are our destiny, we learn how to pursue them. Whether we write within fiction, non-fiction, children, poetry, historical, contemporary, or futuristic genres—mastery matters. We find writing buddies and nurture each other. We reach maturity when discerning what we dislike about required parts of the writing life and discipline ourselves to do it anyway.

The best writer’s life leans intentionally into balance. We learn to meet deadlines with ourselves and others. We help others and receive help. Some of us write alone. Others share in groups. Our journey is both solitary and communal, and often— beyond math.

Lord of my calling, strengthen me and give me courage.  Help me to be disciplined in attending to what I need to do, just as well as I attend to what I love to do. Amen.




Jan Powell, a graduate of the University of South Florida has two small businesses. Through Writing with You, she offers writing services: editing, rewriting, coaching and ghost writing for fiction and non-fiction. She loves to help polish manuscripts for others. She has been published in The Wordsmith Journal and Splickety Magazine.

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