Well…it looks like my 6th grade Social Studies Moon Mission (see my previous post) will be cut short. A couple of weeks ago, the principal came to me and said that although she’d like to rehire me, the school district (BISD) would probably not allow it. The district must cut quite a few positions and everyone who is on a “limited term” contract (those of us who were hired mid-year) will lose their position in August. Without taking into account our teaching ability or our teaching team interactions, we will simply be replaced by other teachers who have been with the district longer.
I’m extremely disappointed. I don’t like the situation at all. I love my job, my coworkers, and my students. I feel like I really “fit” here that I’ve been able to make some great positive contributions during my short time at Rasco. I still hope BISD will be able to find a way to fund all the positions, but will also be watching other job openings carefully. Miranda and I have gone through this before, and we have learned to trust God. Ultimately, He is the only provider that we can truly count on and He has never let us down.
Please say a prayer for us as we board this roller coaster of uncertainty once again. . . Wait. . . There is no uncertainty in His hands, just an unknown path.
We’ve been in the car a lot lately. Kasen and Kesleigh are pretty good travelers, but on our way back from Ft Worth recently, Kasen had a little meltdown. He was tired of being in his car seat, and kept repeating, “I want you.” to Miranda and I. It’s a phrase that he says quite often when he wants us to hold him, but the number of times he repeated it that day in the car was overwhelming. Sometimes we can get away with just holding his foot, but he was having nothing of it that day. By the end, he was screaming “I want you!!!” over our explanations of why he had to stay in his car seat. He asked. He cried. He yelled. He squirmed. He mumbled. He kicked. Whatever it took – he was willing to try anything to be with us. Unfortunately, for his safety we couldn’t allow it.
Do I scream “I want you!” to God like that? Am I willing to do whatever it takes to be with Him? When I feel trapped, do I cry to Him at all? Or do I just squirm around trying to get myself out of the mess on my own? When I do cry out to Him, what if He remains silent ’cause He sees some sort of danger or purpose that I can’t see?
I’ve always thought of myself as a bit of a risk taker. I love adventure. I love the adrenaline of not knowing. I love exploring. I love whitewater rafting, snow skiing, scuba diving, etc. I love the top of the roller coaster where you’re about to experience something, but you’re not quite sure how it’s gonna turn out. It’s these moments, where I truly believe I’m exercising my faith the most.
When I first decided to leave home to start a youth ministry job…When I decided to try and raise $20,000 for a student mission trip…When I knelt down to ask Miranda to marry me…When I step into the unknown…I believe those are the moments where my faith is being stretched. And I also want my life to be an expression of my faith in Jesus Christ. Even in the most uncomfortable and insecure moments, I hope my life reflects the undercurrent of trust in Jesus that somehow (by His power and grace) courses through my veins. Because of Him, I enjoy risk. Even when I’m doubtful, I still feel more alive when I’m risking something. (That’s when I’ve got to walk more closely to Jesus.)
I have also always said that I want my kids to learn to take chances - not stupid risks of course. But I want them to know Jesus personally, and I know that the life He calls them to, is one of risk. If you read the Parable of the Talents (Mt 25:14-30), it’s clear that Jesus Himself equates faithfulness with risk. I pray that my children will risk everything for the glory and name of Jesus Christ. Therefore, I want to be an example to them. By the way, if Jesus motivates your risk, it’s no risk at all.
My in-laws, Mike and Patti Mathews, are a bit of a different story. I don’t really think of them as “risk-takers.” Mike plans everything. He actually puts “Brush my teeth” on a “to do” list. By making the list, he’s making sure that all his bases are covered. He’s “playing it safe” by trying to be prepared for everything. Mike and Patti have gone on vacation to the same beach for the last 20 years and Patti has never gotten wet above her knees. (Well, she probably has been rained on.) Patti talks about Kasen, our 2yr old, breaking his neck when he jumps off the couch. I don’t know the real answer to this, but I wouldn’t be surprised if I heard that Mike and Patti had never been on a roller coaster in their lives. These are all examples of a “play-it-safe” sort of outlook on life.
But wait. . . Mike and Patti ARE RISK-TAKERS!!! We just got back from a Hawaiian vacation. In spite of their fear, Mike and Patti both got in the water during our snorkeling excursion. Although he had never been in water deeper than 5ft, Mike jumped into a cove where the water was close to 40ft deep. The terror in his eyes was evident, but he actually ended up loving it. And check this out…Mike and Patti both went ziplining through the treetops of Hawaii! I’ll never forget the sound of Patti’s voice as she stood 70ft in the air at the edge of the first line contemplating whether she could do it or not. They both faced their fears.
They were scared for sure. But COURAGE is NOT the ABSENCE of FEAR! It’s ACTION IN SPITE of FEAR!!
As I look a little closer at their lives, I realize they’ve been risk-takers all along. They both gave their lives to Christ. That’s not a risk, but it certainly feels like one when you’re taking that first step into a new life. They both gave up a “safe” career in order to go to seminary. And my experiences in watching how Mike leads/disciples people, it’s clear that he encourages and lovingly pushes people to take more risks as they follow Jesus. Who knew??? Mike, the play-it-safe list maker, is also a risk taker!!
GOOD NEWS!! I want my children to be risk-takers and now I realize they’ve got “RISK in the BLOOD” from both sides of the family!!
(PS – Mike and Patti, I’m sorry for misjudging you.)
Here’s another cool psychology experiment I read about in “Sway” by Ori and Rom Brafman:
The Love Bridge:
Capilano Canyon (near Vancouver, Canada) can be crossed on a rope suspension bridge (built in 1889) which spans 450 feet at 230 feet above the surface of the ground. There is also a solid wood bridge 10 feet off the ground further down the canyon.
The suspension bridge sways underneath your feet when strong winds blow through, but unsuspecting hikers were also swayed by it’s power.
For the experiment, a female research assistant was told to approach men (one at a time) between the ages of 18-35 as they stepped off the end of each bridge. She was supposed to follow a scripted story with each man. She was to tell them that she was a psychology student conducting a study on the affects of exposure to scenic attractions on creative expression. She would then ask each man to fill out a short survey. When he finished, she would offer to tell him about the study later when they had a bit more time. She was then instructed to tear off a corner of the survey paper, write down her name/phone number and hand it to them. Most of the men happily accepted the number and hiked on down the trail.
The team also sent a male student with the same instructions. Not surprisingly, he was repeatedly turned down and many men wouldn’t even fill out the survey. Over the following few days, there were only 3 curious hikers who called him up. The female student received many calls.
Now here’s the interesting part. Of the 16 men who crossed the small wooden secure bridge, only 2 called her. However, half of the 18 men who crossed the suspension bridge called.
Hmm. . . now what made the difference? Most likely, the feelings which developed during the rope bridge crossing affected their perceptions of her. Their heightened anxiety/adrenaline simulated the same sort of feelings that you get when you have a crush. Their emotional state impacted their decisions and their perceptions. She represented the safety and security they needed as she greeted them on solid ground. For the men on the other bridge, well. . .they didn’t have the same needs/emotions.
Emotions Matter. When you’ve got to make an important decision. Make it at a wise time. Don’t make big decisions right after periods of heightened anxiety or adrenaline.
Stress is something we’ve all experienced: that feeling right before taking a test (especially if you haven’t studied) or the feelings you get when there are too many things to get done and not enough hours in the day. Maybe it’s the tension in the air when certain people are around. Stress causes us to behave differently, to not think clearly, and in some cases it can cause physical illness or even heart conditions. It can also lead to anxiety or depression. In our “normal” use of the word, stress is not a good thing.
Recently, I heard about a distinction that some are making. They describe two kinds of stress. The first and most commonly used understanding – “distress,” and the second is called “eustress.” Eustress is a positive form of stress – a “good” stress. You know this one too, but probably never considered it stress. It’s the feeling you get when you’ve got a good workout going and your adrenaline is rushing through your veins. It’s the feelings you get when you’re riding a roller coaster or that hopeful concern right before your wedding ceremony. These are all forms of stress too. They cause us to behave differently, to think differently, and can cause physical reactions too, but we place this stress in a different category – for that matter, we don’t even call it “stress,” but use words like excited, nervous, or apprehensive to describe it. Another interesting phenomenon is when both collide. This is seen before childbirth. The physical might be considered distress, while the emotional feelings are typically experienced as eustress.
Interestingly enough, the body cannot discern the difference between distress and eustress. Both are equally draining. It’s important to keep a healthy balance of down time to combat these effects.
Here’s why I went into all this: What if we could trick ourselves? What if we could look at our “distress” situations as “eustress?” Could we take threats and think of them in terms of challenging opportunities? These kinds of ideas really bring me back to the Scripture in Gen 50:20 where Joseph says to his brothers, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good.” Can we follow Joseph’s example and see the distress of our lives as something that God can use? Opportunities for Him to show up? Situations where He can be glorified? Areas where we can learn to trust Him more?
Prayer: Lord, You know my stress. I don’t know what the future holds. I won’t have a job in a couple of months or any way to support my family. I feel stressed – distressed. Help me to think differently – to see things as You see them. Help me to understand that this stress is simply another way that You’re at work our lives. Help me to trust You with the situation. Help me to bring You glory and feel exhilarated and excited rather than anxious and depressed. I know You are close to me, but I still feel alone sometimes. Touch me. Comfort me. Allow me to walk in Your Shalom. AMEN.