Enjoy this monthly post written by Patrick Riecke, director, Chaplaincy and Volunteer Services.
I confess that I have unrealistic expectations most of the time.
When I being something new, I expect it to go well with little disruption. When I have an idea, I think it’s a great idea that everyone else will love, and when I ask my kids to do something … well, you get the point.
My expectations are not always met, as you might have already guessed. For instance, as a Colts fan, I expect my team to go to the playoff every year. For instance, I expect you to read this entire post. Like I said — occasionally unrealistic expectations.
On an outside walk, I passed over a creek swollen after a lot of recent rainfall. Nothing is more powerful, or captivating, than a large amount of water flowing in the same direction. As I peered over the edge of the bridge, I noticed something about the overflowing creek.
While the creek was probably 20 feet across and swallowing up everything in its path, there was a rogue stream of water off to one side, about 6 feet across. The water there was flowing in the opposite direction. It was the natural bounce-back, rebellion, or what I will call resistance.
You’ve seen this before in rivers and creeks. The powerful movement it all in one direction. But there is a swirling pool or breakaway tributary at the edge. I am not good on ladders, but I recently had to climb my extension ladder (which is 100 years old and purchased for $10 at an estate sale) to get to my second story gutters. I think my lovely wife can still hear me shouting from 20 feet up, “Are you still holding the ladder? Please don’t let go of the ladder!” I am a little scared of heights. If she was taller than 5’ 3” I would have made her go up the ladder.
The water in the gutter had met resistance from the clogs and was overflowing the edge and plummeting, waterfall-style, to the ground. Where it met, you guessed it, resistance. The dirt and mulch responded by merging with the water and bouncing back up — onto my siding — so the back of my house was covered with enough dirt that I had to climb the ladder.
Resistance in our lives can come in three forms, all natural:
Sometimes we are trying to push forward. We are furthering a social cause, or we are just trying to balance our budget, and it’s not happening as fast as we would like. I can hear the teeth of Type A people grinding through the internet — I feel you!
Someone said something I hate … God answers our prayers in one of three ways: Yes, no, and not yet.
When Jesus was slow to execute his mission, the disciples asked him, “When are you going to start exerting your power!?” We are still asking God the same question. The Christian New Testament actually concludes with people in Heaven asking God, “How much longer must we wait for you to make things right!?” And God saying, “Just a little longer…”
I hate that.
The resistance of delay, whether it’s God’s fault, my own, or someone else’s, just burns me up, but it’s natural.
Deep breath ….
My wife and I joke that the best guarantee that we will not have fun is to tell our kids we are about to have fun.
NEWSFLASH — I don’t know if you have noticed, but kids sometimes rebel against their parents. When a child is told to clean up her toys, clean up his room or clean up their lives, guess what happens?
And it can be infuriating. Aren’t kids supposed to just do what we tell them? In short, no. No, they are not. They are kind-of supposed to rebel. Let’s face it. You did it when you were a kid, and it’s the most natural event imaginable.
We aren’t here to create mynah birds. We’re watering oak trees and oak trees are notoriously horrible at taking instructions.
3. Constructive new growth
At one time, there was a flow at the hospital where I work that included people dying alone. It’s the sad truth that sometimes people don’t have anyone with them when they die. Families can splinter or die off, they can be far away, or unable to travel or get off work. My predecessors at the hospital saw this phenomenon and decided to resist. They became the part of the creek that was flowing in the other direction. They took time, researched and planned.
As a result, they introduced the No One Dies Alone (NODA) program.
This beautiful piece of resistance to a certain current has created a program where no one at our hospital should ever die alone, because of a marvelous set of volunteers who hold vigil with every such patient. They hold their hand. They read to them. They pray for their souls and put on some music. This form of natural resistance brought about new growth.
Whatever you do, do it with all your heart.
Are you raising rebellious kids? Love them fiercely as they rebel, and don’t try too hard to squash the rebellion — that only fuels the fire, anyhow.
Are you waiting? Is God infuriatingly saying “not yet”? Allow the waiting room to teach you and help you, not just frustrate you. Take a class. Interview others who have gone where you want to go. Develop your character.
Are you called to help create new growth as resistance to a current that you feel is flowing in the wrong direction? Do your research, do the hard work, get organized, and take your fight to the streets. You will be amazed at the partners you find along the way (maybe even God!).