Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Reaching your goal Step-by-Step

Several years ago, it was popular for Evangelical Christians to ask the question “What would Jesus do?” by wearing W.W.J.D. bracelets. Though I no longer take part in this fad, questions like these are always good to ask.
I don’t do this because I constantly need to know what Jesus would do in a situation, this act sounds too frantic to me, but because I want to differentiate myself from the current situation. As I have talked about elsewhere, self-differentiation is the ability to emotionally remove oneself from a troubling situation, and view it from an alternate perspective. Then, when we have “the ability to separate feelings and thoughts” we see that the problems in front of us become smaller and smaller.
Organizational Skills Training (OST) is a way for students with ADHD to do this. Its objective is to teach children how to acquire “skills that can be linked to easily recognizable situations [that] are directly relevant to children’s daily functioning at school and home.” Then through a series of small steps, kids learn to manage school more effectively.
Whatever questions confuse us, whether they are about education, our faith, or something different entirely, making the challenges smaller and smaller until they are obsolete is the goal.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

What Leadership Needs

Meaning “good judgment” and “good taste,” clinical pastoral counsellor Mike Nichols defines discernment as a process of “giving conscious attention to what we think and feel in relation to particular choices we are making.”
In Richard Adams’ classic Watership Down[1], Hazel the Chief Rabbit shows how discernment enables him to be a leader with good sense. After hearing of a dispute that needed attention, he calmly asks for information.
“Hello,” said Hazel, “What’s happened? Where are the others?”
“Over there,” Blackberry anxiously answered, “There’s been a fearful fight. Bigwig told Hawkbit and Speedwell that he’d scratch them to pieces if they didn’t obey him. And when Hawkbit wanted to know who was chief rabbit, Bigwig bit him.”
Blackberry, Hawkbit and Speedwell are undifferentiated rabbits. Their anxiety is troubling their thinking and confusing their decision-making. Bigwig, whom they thought might be the self-differentiated leader they needed, was not acting like it.
To make a wise decision, Nichols says we must “read the facts and pay attention to our feelings because our immediate experience contains elements of both. Paying “attention to these processes enables us to recognize and choose what is better rather than what is less good.” [2]
Hazel draws the situation to a differentiated conclusion: “There was no need biting Hawkbit... Now Bigwig’s put their back’s up, and they’ll think they’ve got to go on because he makes them. I want them to go on because they can see it’s the only thing to do.” 
Hazel’s slow, methodical and thoughtful manner resulted in the best and clearest conclusion.

[1] Adams, Richard. (1972) Watership Down. London, England: Rex Collins ch. 11
[2] Nichols, Mike. (2015) Learning the Art of Pastoral Care - Challenge Care p. 8

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

N.A.P.ing: It’s not a common trait

Anxiety can be thought of as “distress or uneasiness of mind caused by fear of danger or misfortune,” and experiencing it makes us human. Though we cannot minimize these feelings, we can lessen how we transfer them to others. Rabbi, psychotherapist and author Edwin Friedman says that a well-differentiated person has “clarity about his or her own life goals, and therefore is less likely to become lost in the anxious emotional processes swirling about.” This person “can be separate while still remaining connected, and therefore can maintain a modifying, non-anxious and sometimes challenging presence.[1]
As a regular user of public transit, I was not surprised to hear that city bus drivers have stressful jobs.[2] But I have realized that they are a non-anxious presence on our streets. Though their minds may be racing, they must be calm on the outside, able to transfer people from one place to another, be willing to chat, answer questions patiently, and solve problems with a smile. Therefore, though prohibiting their surrounding situations from impacting their emotions and actions is exceedingly difficult, it is a requirement.
Are you a “non anxious presence” who experiences the highs and lows of life without adding stress to the situation? If so, you are rare and the world desperately needs you.

[1] Friedman, Edwin. (2007) A Failure of Nerve: Leadership in the Age of the Quick Fix. New York, NY: Seabury (p. 14)
[2] http://metronews.ca/news/vancouver/676533/what-is-the-most-stressful-job-in-b-c/

Friday, May 1, 2015

Defining Ourselves

Whatever our age, gender, philosophy or creed, we desire to do something great with our lives. Edwin H. Friedman says that it may require persistence and patience, but if we are self-differentiated and focused, we will not care what others think.
Before Columbus finally set out to discover the new world, he spent thousands of hours working towards what Friedman called ‘self-differentiation.’ He was training himself to be "head strong" and "ruthless, . . not allow[ing] relationships to get in the way of [his] vision.”[1]
Where are you on the self-differentiation continuum? Are you a quick thinker who decides with the masses and lives with the consequences? Or, are you willing to slow down and make a correct decision, knowing that it will be proven right in due time? If so, have patience with yourself as you practice. It takes time to become defined.

[1] Friedman, Edwin. (2007) A Failure of Nerve: Leadership in the Age of the Quick Fix. New York, NY: Seabury Books, p.188-189

[1] Friedman, Edwin. (2007) A Failure of Nerve: Leadership in the Age of the Quick Fix. New York, NY: Seabury Books, p.188-189

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

The God who Forgets

Some time ago, my dad asked me if I could remember the times when he was angry with me. After a silent moment or two, I think I said something like; “maybe, but probably not.” I think the reason for my memory lapse is because we desire to remember the good things about our parents, friends, and colleagues.
Though Jesus’ closest friends performed some outrageous and hurtful acts against Him, He chose to forget them (John 21) so their relationship may remain strong. This is just one of the things God chose to do when He took on skin and bone and moved into the neighborhood.

As we prepare for the coming of Christmas, can we welcome a God like this?

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Turning Disabilities into Diffabilities

It is not surprising that a husband does things differently than his wife. But their unique work is equally required to raise a family. As I think about my parents, mom has long been responsible for managing the money, whereas dad’s job is to earn it. In the kitchen, mom’s role is to make most of the meals and dad’s is to clean up afterwards. Diffabilities is my term for confidently completing an action differently rather than feeling a need to do things the same way as those you admire. As a visually impaired person (V.I.P.) I have needed to learn different ways of completing routine tasks. For instance, the driver of a car in the H.O.V. lane is no more important than the passenger sitting in the next seat over. If I need to know, or not, I am learning to ask more questions so that new insight might be realized. And, whether it is for visual reasons or otherwise, I finish tasks slowly so they may be done well, once. If mom and dad did not have these diffabilities, and passed them on to their kids, delicious meals would not be made, dirty dishes might just remain in the sink and it might take an extra long time to get to work.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

It Isn’t You

This Friday, many of us will remember Jesus, as he led his disciples in the first Communion, the night before he would be crucified. If we can believe this, I think Jesus was more compassionate to them than we often make him out to be.
Many of us, myself included, have celebrated communion knowing that we are sinners and need forgiveness. That’s right, we are, and we need to eat the Lord’s Supper for our cleansing and sustenance. But it was a regular Passover meal and the disciples believed that this Passover would be no different. They knew what they would be celebrating.
Because Jesus was never condemning of anyone who had true faith, his followers believed that his words this evening would be no different. Because they all had true faith, right?
Just as Jesus acted among his disciples and the crowd, he criticized no one except for the self-righteous who ‘knew’ that they did not need communion to be cleansed. And there was no one like that here, right?
But according to Matthew 26, after they reclined at the table, and had already drunk a few glasses of wine and eaten a few loaves of bread, Jesus said, “one of you will betray me.” The disciples’ mouths fell open, and some of them must have thought, “Is Jesus drunk?”
Jesus continued, “One who has dipped his hand into the bowl with me will betray me. The Son of Man will go just as it is written about him. But woe to that man who betrays the Son of Man! It would be better for him if he had not been born.” (Matthew 26:23-24)
As they realized that their teacher was serious, but did not condemn any of them, a silence fell and the finger pointing stopped.
As we might expect, “[the disciples] were very sad and began to say to him one after the other, ‘Surely you don’t mean me, Lord?’” (Matthew 26:22) I encourage you, for just a minute, ask the Lord that question.
--------------------------------30 seconds or so-------------------------------------------------------
As the disciples, each in turn, asked Jesus weather they were the one, I believe Jesus answered each of them individually, “No, Peter it isn’t you.” “No, Thomas, it isn’t you.” “No, Matthew, it isn’t you.”
As you partake of our Lord’s generosity, insert your name here “No, David, it’s not you.” “No, Mike, it’s not you.” “No, Kim, it’s not you.” “No, ______, it isn’t you.” Satan had picked Judas to do the dirty deed, and only one person was and ever will be needed.
Weather you remember the death of our Lord Jesus by yourself, in pairs, or a group, come, receive the gift of God. Tare off some bread and dip it in the grape juice. Pass the bread and wine down the aisles. Or as I did by myself as an elementary student, eat your peanut butter and jam sandwich with a juice box, and remember. Then, as the lunch bell rings, you may leave knowing that as far as Jesus is concerned, it isn’t you, and it never will be.