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Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Roller Coaster versus Ferris Wheel

The dictionary defines "change" as, "to make the form, nature, content, future course, etc., of (something) different from what it is or from what it would be if left alone." There has been a lot of "making the future course different from what it would be if left alone" around here lately.

I have learned that even changes that are good and desirable are difficult. Habits, attitudes, and perspectives get altered when things change. And these are not always easy to accept. There is resistance when changes cause us to question our desires, objectives, and investments.  

Sam and I have changed how we approach decisions. We look at our choices in the light of what we believe is our purpose as a husband and wife, and as a family. We have never done that before. It isn't easy to say "no" to things that would be fun, exciting, or self-promoting. Especially when you never have before. It is difficult to remember to stop and think before giving an answer when asked to participate.

We have, as a family, sat down and looked at all the activities we are involved in: two 4-h clubs, 4-h fair association, dog training class, Master's Club teachers at church, goats, horse, chickens, bees, maple syrup, fair superintendants for several fairs, baseball team, National Dairy Goat show,  Bible quiz team... etc. etc. etc.

We looked at each activity and evaluated it for how it fit with our purpose. Does it bring us together as a family? Does it promote good attitudes or does it bring out bad behavior? Do we really enjoy it, or are we just doing it because we always have? Has God called us to it?

Some things were obvious: 4-H fair association is just something we are doing because we always have and because of changes in the leadership style, it is bringing out negative attitudes in all of us. So last month we completed our commitments and obligations and said "Good-bye". Now, the difficult parts of that change were, 1) explaining the decision to the leadership and 2) not immediately filling that time slot with another activity!

Other things were not so easy: Bible Quiz team is something that doesn't necessarily bring us together as a family, and it promotes good attitudes in some, but not in others. Abigail had a conflict in dates with this and her position on the 4-H record book committee. She decided to honor the comittment to the committee, as she had signed up for that many months ago, before Bible Quiz had even come up. Before our new perspective, we would have driven around like crazy making sure she could do both, and she wouldn't have been fully committed to either activity. 

But, Nathalie and Hannah enjoy the quizzing, it encourages them to spend time in God's Word, and provides them with opportunities to be with other christian teens. So we compromise: they do the quiz team, with the understanding that they will miss some practices if family commitments conflict.

And so the changes continue. Some are easy: All but 14 chickens went to auction a few weeks ago. Some are more difficult: Which goats do we keep? How many goats do we keep? How many fairs do we go to? How many times do we visit the grandparents? Which projects around the house are most important? Are we going to do a mission trip? Do we really want to continue beekeeping?

These decisions are so wrapped in with who we are and what others expect of us, along with all of the emotional stuff attached to those things, it is difficult to separate out the necessary from the unnecessary. Change is hard, but it is good.

Things around here will be different, but I am getting used to saying, "Let me think about that," before I make a decision. I feel less like life is simply happening to me and I am merely hanging on (by my fingernails!) for the ride. I can take the time to listen for God's voice and seek His guiding hand. Life here is still a ride; just not an out-of-control roller coaster anymore. More like a Ferris wheel: still having high's and low's, up's and down's. Some days I can see forever, and other days I can only see the back of the seat in front of me. I can trust that God is at the controls and when we are at the bottom, He will eventually raise us up again. 
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