Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Calling in the Shermans

There's this really memorable and nail-biting scene in Band of Brothers where Easy Company finds themselves on the front lines of a battle with German forces soon after D-Day.  They are being pummeled by Tiger Tanks and artillery and the battle just seems to go on and on with the Americans on the point of defeat. Then, there's this fantastic moment when huge explosions come from the German lines and there they are: the Sherman tanks. One character sums up the emotions of the moment when he yells, "You beautiful babies!" The fight becomes equal, the Americans are saved, and Easy Company moves on to fight on another day.

I've had a month. You know what I mean, one of those long funky spells where something is just not right. No amount of exercise or counting of silver linings or trying to enthuse my way out of said funk has worked. Prayer has felt difficult and draining, loneliness has been a prevalent emotion and I've found myself exhausted and irritable. It's hard to say where it came from, but it has lingered on in a way to which I am unaccustomed.

I was reminded just this morning of the title of this blog and how far I have come in my own understanding of myself and God since I started writing almost a year and a half ago. And that reminded me that at that point in my life, I felt like I was constantly doing battle. That I was fighting my way back into a healthy place with God and others, hitting pitfalls along the way, jumping into foxholes when necessary and forging ahead when possible.  At some point in this busy season of working again and trying to discern my own future when the future I had planned initially isn't happening, I've forgotten to be alert for ambushes.  And as I spent some time in scripture and prayer this morning and then some sweet time with my son for the rest of the day, I realized that that is exactly what happened to me this past month. An ambush. It's been a time when all the lies I am tempted to believe about myself seem more believable, when everything I try to do feels like it comes off mediocre, when clarity about decisions feel foggy and when the things I hope for seem elusive and tiring. It's been a very effective ambush because it has essentially made me want to hide from those who love me, including my God, rather than moving forward by taking some new risks and letting people come alongside me.  Back to the old tendencies, I suppose.

So, this morning, as I sat before the Lord wondering what it was that had caused this (because I'm definitely the kind of person who wants to think through any emotional trauma and solve it, rather than actually feel it) I felt this sense of needing to let go of my obsession to know the "why" in this case.  I felt compelled to remind myself of Ephesians and the passage on arming ourselves and being shod with the readiness of the gospel. And I preached myself up a little sermon, slinging some arrows and wielding my sword so that the great deceiver would know that this child of God is no easy target and that I am definitely not outnumbered.  Lies are just that: lies. Fear of mediocrity is my struggle with perfectionism all over again. Uncertainty of the future is that pesky lack of trust issue. And yes, while the things I am hoping for do still seem elusive, ultimately my most fulfilling hope is secure- I can rest in what Christ has done for me and whatever earthly dreams don't happen, that security cannot change.  

For the first time in weeks, I felt refreshed. Not because I had run 3 miles and pumped my body full of endorphins or because I had woken up with some big project on my mind and conquered it, but because I was reminded of the truth.  God called in the Shermans this morning, letting His word remind me that the ultimate war is already won but that in the meantime, it's a good thing to call in reinforcements.  

Monday, March 14, 2011

Herding Cats and Other Absurd Scenarios

There was a great commercial a few years back for a company named EDS. Admittedly, I did not actually see this video until last week when I commented that I wondered if coaching my child's 4-year-old soccer team would feel like herding cats, in response to which my husband rushed to youtube to show me said commercial. Low and behold, a ridiculous and hilarious short video depicting cowboys trying to get a herd of cats to market.  I laughed but assumed that probably I was not giving the 4-year-olds enough credit after all and went into our first practice with a good combination of enthusiasm, clearly structured plans and optimism.

Turns out that the enthusiasm was the only really useful tool. Within about 10 minutes of practice, flashes of the commercial were zipping through my brain.  Instead of kids dribbling, mass group of children were chattering at the moon that had risen early. Instead of shooting drill, kids chasing birds. Instead of listening to my very well thought out explanations for drills, one boy interrupting to tell me that he liked the color of my soccer ball and one girl asking me (ironically) if cats were my favorite animal and another boy sharing that the Steelers were his favorite team and could we please, please, please name our soccer team after them?  We tried to do a lap around the field with them following me- when I turned around there were 13 children in various states of disarray, some on the ground (I still don't know why), some who had surreptitiously grabbed their balls and were playing with them instead of jogging, some who did not understand the concept of following a leader in an oval and had to be chased down and brought back to the field and one kid playing with a stick. Right.

I've got a week to plan for practice number two and I'm trying to figure out how to reinsert some of the optimism and planning into the reality that is herding cats, especially cats of varying degrees of listening ability, personal spunk and soccer skills. 

A few things I learned today:
One, 4-year-olds are super cute and they know it.  They will use this against you.
Two, if you can make a high-five a part of every drill, do it. They love it.
Three, set the bar low and enjoy watching flocks of birds with them. It's not worth trying to get their attention back until they've flown on. 
Four, parents of children this age will inevitably stay for the whole practice and watch your every move, occasionally chuckling. I don't know if they are laughing at me or the whole situation.  Probably both.
Five, take myself less seriously. (OK, pretty much everything in life is trying to teach me this. Possibly someday I'll get it)
And six, herding cats might be insanely chaotic, but it was pretty fun chaos and I think I'll probably learn at least 6 lessons each week from these kids that'll make me a better parent and person in general.

Now, on to making some possibly less structured, realistically optimistic plans for week 2 as well as contemplating whether it would actually make sense to name our team "The Cats," as requested.