Friday, May 13, 2011

R is for Roller-coasters, and Revisions

I was thinking about my attitude toward life when I was in my 20's, my 30's and now in my 40's and it occurred to me, that while I always think I understand things from a new perspective as I age the perspective is all that really changes. I know that the roller coaster analogy has been used so often that the car is looking a little rusty and the loops that it makes are not all that thrilling--but it was so real to me, I have to share.

In my 20's, my children were bursting out of me almost faster than I could name them and being a youth pastor's wife was the primary way I defined myself and my faith. Looking 2 decades backwards, I now realize that I viewed my life as though I was riding a roller coaster. I was a passenger and I was not in control of the things that happened to me. I felt like the happenings of my life were determined primarily by the Lord. I knew that He loved me and that He cared about me as a young mother and as an inexperienced servant, I felt that if I just held on as tightly as possible, I could close my eyes and He would see me through the journey. And He did. But, along the way, there was A LOT of pain and, to be quite blunt, it scared the hell out of me.

In my 30's I think that I saw the roller coaster as a very dangerous place to be and I longed to get off. In his book, Finding God When You Need Him Most, Chip Ingram writes of the 10 Psychological Factors that contribute to depression. Recently I read through his list, and as I completed the list--my eyes clouded. I had, at one point while I was in my 30's, owned all 10.
1. major loss
2. inward anger
3. guilt (real or imagined)
4. major transition or milestone
5. grief
6. negative thinking
7. low self esteem
8. being around negative people
9. unrealistic expectations
10. self pity
No wonder I had been depressed! No wonder the roller coaster was so scary! No wonder I tried to unfasten my seat belt and jump off! Somehow, I believed that watching the roller coaster would be better than being on it and having no control. I guess I thought those were my only options.

I would love to say that now, in my 40's, I've mastered the skill of riding a terrifying ride and here is the secret... But, that is not the case. I still ride it and there are moments where I feel I am less than ready for the upcoming drop. But, I do some other things differently. I get off the ride every single day. I get off the roller coaster and I help set the tracks. I meet with the Ride Operator and listen to His plans--and then I oil the wheels and allow the Ride Director to prompt me. I also trust in the Rise Operator's ability to maneuver the car across the tracks, because unlike the unshaven, carnival worker who just flips a switch, the ride operator for the Roller-coaster we ride has foreknowledge and the power to invade and prepare me for the drops.

As far as the List of 10 Psychological Factors, I still struggle with #3 and #5 but because I have eliminated some of the other numbers--#7 is leaving my life. I am excited to see what I will think about my attitude from my 40's--when I am in my 50's, 60's and my 70's. My prayer is that I will always be open to hearing when it is time for a revision.

We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives, so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way" Colossians 1:9-10

Speaking of roller-coasters and revisions, this article was originally entitled "What I Think About I Bring About" and was posted in February of 2010. I was never crazy about it, and thought many times about deleting it. I felt the original version focused too much on the a belief system that was more New Age than my own. But, this morning, on a whim, I decided that it deserved the same chance to be remade that I depend on hourly! Thanks for reading!