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Saturday, 6 September 2014

Gaining Perspective

   When something new comes into our lives, our self-talk helps us to either cope well or cope poorly. Change is inevitable, but even changes we perceive to be positive, such as the job promotion, getting married, or purchasing a house bring with them a level of stress, according to psychologists. How much more so when change is deemed to be an intrusion to a well-ordered life.
   For myself, I have consciously sought a broad perspective when examining change in my life. Here are two examples I'd like to share:

First teaching job

   After I graduated from teacher's college in 1994, I was offered a job at a brand new school with an enrollment of just 27 students.  Knowing that one-room schools had been the norm in my dad's generation made me relieved that my assigned classroom would consist of only four grades, from Grade 5 to Grade 8.  Other people had done this, including one of my uncles.  He actually taught Grades 4-8 in one classroom for a number of years, so I decided to spend a few days with his class before school let out that June.  I gleaned classroom management tips to help me with a tough assignment for even a veteran teacher.  By the time school actually started that fall, class assignments shifted so that I had only Grade 6, 7 & 8.  About one month into the school year, the board of directors, which consisted of parents at this privately funded school, recognized the need for one of the teachers to take on the role of principal.  Yes, I was still a rookie teacher, but I was single and energetic and felt this was something God had called me to do.  At least a few people who heard what I was doing frowned upon it.  Because I chose to see my situation as being within the realm of things that ordinary people have dealt with, I was able to cope. (I don't mean to say it was sustainable because after getting married it really was too much for me, and I resigned at the end of the third school year.)

Short Notice   

   One time when I was on the "Welcome and Hospitality" Committee at a former church, I was given a couple days notice to find hosts for over a dozen choir members from India.  Through an oversight the pastor forgot to share this information with me until that late hour.  First, I was overwhelmed with the task.  The group was also expecting a catered dinner at the church when they arrived in the evening.
   I took a step back and broke the task down.  I began to focus on the needs of the people coming on this choir tour and found a way to create three sleeping spaces in my own house.  I called people from my committee, who I felt would be open to hospitality, and persisted beyond that list when some said they could not do it because they did not have enough notice.  I thought of the early church which provided hospitality so freely because hotels and inns had a reputation for immorality.  
   After I had made all the sleeping arrangements, I thought about which busy women would answer the call to cook a meal for those they considered strangers.  I looked in my More With Less Cookbook and found two simple stew recipes (one vegetarian) that I could double and make at home.  I informed the contact person that the choir should come to my residence instead of the church for dinner.  When I think about it now, it turned out to be such a blessing to be able to serve a meal to these people, even though all the bowls did not match.  I heard them perform later that night and was incredibly moved to help them in what I began to see was just a small way.

Questions that give me Perspective amid Change

  • How did people in Bible times deal with similar circumstances?
  • How do/did people manage (without a car, without mattresses, without a washing machine) in other places and times?
  • Where can I find support to help me?  How can I rely on God?
  • How can I find something positive in this situation?
  • How can I become more understanding of the struggles of others through this situation?
  • Is this a "first world problem"? (from the title of Craig Kielburger's pocket size book, Your Grandma Follows You on Twitter and other First World Problems We're Lucky to Have.) 

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