Slowly But Shirley

Back when I was a sophomore in high school, we had this substitute teacher named Mrs. Shirley. Now, when you hear the name Shirley, images of a happy bubbly person might spring to mind. Maybe a bouncy little girl like the silver screen actress Shirley Temple.

Mrs. Shirley was not that type. At the time she taught us, I’d say she was probably in her mid to late sixties, stern of face and countenance, and kept her blond locks in a bob as blunt as her opinions. There was no nonsense when it came to Mrs. Shirley.

Ironically, her first name was Bunny.

At any rate, when our English class rolled around after lunch, we’d all be at the top floor waiting by the classroom door for Mrs. Shirley to climb up the stairs and let us in.

She moved slow…agonizingly slow at times.

One day, while leaning over the banister watching her from above, I said, “Here she comes, slowly but Shirley!”

There were a few chuckles at the comment. It became a running gag for a time. But not one meant entirely to poke fun. Despite her age, Bunny Shirley was the epitome of perseverance. And because she was “old school” she knew how to teach English right. So I held a great respect for her.

I don’t know if she was a Christian. But, considering the example she set in pushing on, it sparks to mind, how much better that kind of perseverance would be, if it were Christ-led.

Now, there’s a term I haven’t used in awhile!

The thing is, lately, God has put all sorts of reminders like that in my path. Reminders that it doesn’t matter what the world sees in my efforts, or the works of others, but what Christ sees. My perseverance comes in His timing.

Not my own!

Particularly in my writing journey. Even though God has allowed me great strides this year, and a wonderful support group, the process still seems slow. Like Bunny Shirley hobbling up the steps, slow.

But you know what?

She made it up those steps every day. She may not have bounded up like a super athlete, or strutted up with poise and grace. But she made it up, all the same. While we looked on with worldly eyes, seeing flaws–seeing weakness. On the inside, determination brought her through the task.

The world looks on us, pointing out our flaws and weaknesses. But Christ is in the business of using the flawed and the weak. We might not make the journey the way others think we should. But Christ will carry us through to the end.

Slowly but Shirley.

4 Thoughts

    1. Thank you, Pearl! You know, you’re exactly right. It is a rich memory. I never would have thought it back in high school. But looking back now, it’s very clear. It goes to show that there are no “small roles” in the theater of life. Even a person who’s invested in others for a short time can make a great impact.


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