Friday, July 13, 2012

Long, Slow, Beautiful Dance

A deep breath and baby steps,
That's how the whole thing starts.
It's a long, slow, beautiful dance
To the beat of a heart.

Today's topics of missionary training were "Theology of Mission" and "Courageous Conversations".  Since I know I don't have time to recount all the information that was presented or even my personal reflections on what was said, I'm going to share what struck me as a weakness and is likely an issue for others as well.

During "Courageous Conversations", we talked about blockers, things that hinder our ability to empower others in a conversation.  Now, it's likely you have been on both sides of this conversation:

Person 1: What's wrong?
Person 2: Well, there's this thing.
Person 1: Here's a possible solution, my opinion, or my sympathies
Person 2: Unsatisfied with the answer

Before, I had never really considered the philosophy behind dealing with others' concerns.  My first reaction, like most, is to try to solve the problem or convince the person that their problem is not that big of a deal.  Possibly, you've heard that when your friend or colleague is frustrated or upset, they're usually seeking a listener more than a problem solver.  After discussing how belittling a person's problems, proposing solutions, and judging their actions may hurt the person more than help, many thoughts came rolling through my mind.

Since I have learned/am interested in issues ealing with children and teens, I recall the advice given to me in some book to respect a child's problems.  Adults have "real" problems, so their children's problems seem menial, but surprise, surprise; in the grand scheme of life, their exclusion from a play group may require recognition from a parent or teacher to ensure security.

Also, after reading more of The Road Less Traveled, I came across a new method or philosophy of problem-solving.  As humans, we desire to solve our own and others' problems fast and efficiently to eliminate the pain.  But problem-solving is a learning process, a way to grow.  Consider this: when we want children to learn how to do math, we give them problems to solve.  How much would they learn if we constantly solved the problems for them, the fast and efficient way?  That seems crazy, but for some reason, when a child is conflicted, we refuse them our time to guide them through the problem so that in the future, they may be able to solve it themselves and in turn, grow and learn.

This lesson was one that resonates with me because of a missions trip to Eleuthera, Bahamas in the Spring of 2010.  We were replacing an old door for a woman whose husband had passed away more than ten years prior.  As we slaved away to pull out 4-inch nails from the door frame, we begged our leader to help us out.  One big tug of the claw hammer and out that nail came, smoothly.  We inquired about the purpose of us spending half an hour to pull out a single nail when he could easily pull out all of the nails in that time frame.  His response stunned and inspired us: Sometimes getting to your destination as quick as possible is not as powerful as being along for the journey.  Like our morning devotional said, "the journey is home".  By living out Missio Dei (God's mission), we find ourselves in a comfortable place.  We are home with God, on this journey together.  Thanks be to God!

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