Thursday, July 18, 2013

You Pick Your Own Moral of the Story (Sorry no pics, just thoughts)

Yesterday, as I was in my office submitting grades for the summer session, a young woman knocked on my door and asked if she could hang a flyer on my bulletin board. I glanced at it briefly, saw that it had KCKCCs approval stamp (literally), said sure, and looked up at her unexpectedly familiar face. This young woman was a student of mine several years ago. I could not remember her name, she had to remind me, but she quickly said, "Mrs. Dillavou?!" while she shone a humongous smile at me, and even though I just wanted to get out of my office and start my very very (did I say very?) much needed remaining 4 week vacation, we ended up chatting for several important minutes.

Long story short, she has had so much happen to her over the last several years (I was her teacher in 2007, back when I was an adjunct and childless), from her quitting school, to her economically struggling, to her losing her job, and to her, as of last year, finding Christ and letting Him completely, no questions asked, lead her life. The flyer she was distributing was in fact advertising a Christian concert on KCKCCs campus this coming weekend, sponsored by a community outreach organization that she volunteers for. 

Well, as we wrapped up our very humbling conversation, this student asked me, that if I didn't mind her asking, she wanted to know if I had any prayer requests for my own life. She said she that wanted to pray for me in regards to anything that I needed. She was so very sincere, and kind, and I stopped to think for a moment, feeling like I should say something, but I couldn't think of anything to say. If she had asked me an hour before, I am sure I could have rattled off several items that have been seemingly overwhelming my brain lately, but they now all seemed so frivolous, so surface, so small.

Guiltily, all I could think of was that I was so very blessed, in comparison. After hearing her true struggles, especially now knowing that she has been trying fearlessly to find a job but has remained unemployed (yet somehow smiling and positive) since last year, I just could not selfishly ask her to pray for anything that I "needed." I felt badly not saying anything just for the sake of saying something, but I just couldn't do it. My perspective had been readjusted. And her and I parted ways, with me telling her to please email me and keep me updated on her progress.

This is where we start to work on the moral of this story. 

My "needs" are so different from hers.  I think we too often confuse needs with wants. I, it feels daily, remind my oldest child of of this difference. Those of you that remember Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs from a dreaded sociology, psychology, or yes, even a public speaking class, try to think bottom tier needs vs upper or middle tier needs. 

What do I struggle with? Well I suppose that I struggle with wants, more than needs. I want children that behave (but I have three healthy children). I want to be able to buy more things and save more money (but I have a job, that provides financial security). I want to be able to take a breath and sit down and relax for 5 minutes without having to *selflessly* help my children (but I am able to spend a lot of time with my children). I want more time for dates with my husband (but I have a loving, caring husband). I want to find more time to run (but I am healthy enough to run). I want to have time to watch television programs I like, or to read the several books on my e-reader that are only a few chapters in (but I own these luxuries). I want to avoid making supper, or cleaning the house (but I have food and a home).

I teach reframing in my interpersonal communication classes, which is the skill of looking at a situation differently, putting a positive spin on events that might at first seem negative. Reframing, among other things, is a self-worth building tool. But now I am left wondering: How can I teach this stuff and not even regularly practice it in my own life?

I talk to many students about their lives. So many students, each and every semester it seems, that have incredible (think climbing enormous mountains and crossing arid deserts sized) obstacles to overcome that I only see on those television programs I love to watch or read about in those novels I miss delving into. Struggles that would make every single person reading this want to open their checkbooks, offer supportive prayers and would probably invoke tears in even the most emotionless of people.

Now, don't be misled with this message. I do not have a perfect life, not even a half-way perfect life. Yes, of course I have needs and wants that aren't met. Like any person I struggle. I cry. I get very, very (did I say very?) angry at people sometimes. I want more. I need to use less. I am tired.  I am drained from the trials of caring for my young family. I need to nurture important relationships more. I say ugly, hurtful things about people sometimes, almost always releasing an immediate flood of guilt and sorrow.

So what am I saying with all of this (this is one of those posts that Josh will say, "Umm... I read the blog today... Kinda deep, don't you think?)? Well... I'm not sure what I'm saying. I had A Moment yesterday, a realization, and I don't want to forget it. 

I'm honestly torn on what the moral of this story should be. Should it be that we all reevaluate our needs? Should it be we pray more? To pray for others more, and not just ourselves? Should we give more? Should we be more kind to each other? Listen better? Forgive? Believe in Him more? I think in the end, all of those things are probably great messages. It seems hard to narrow this story down to just one. I'd say, in my case, in addition to all of those morals above, I need to be more thankful and appreciate for this very, very (did I say very?) good life that I have been given.

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