Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Symmetry and carpentry

Pendulums. Teeter-totters. Tennis. Ping-pong.

Windows and doors.

Recently (say, in the last 48 hours or so), a slightly noteworthy metaphor came pouring into my mind. Since there has been a substantial increase in the “foot traffic” coming to the my little blog, I’ve been asked quite a bit about the name of it (Looking Through the Windshield), the rather confusing URL chosen by me for this thing (“Chase the Kangaroo”), and the significance contained therein. Or even IF there is any significance, or am I just crazy (the answer to both questions is “yes,” but not really important at this time). Both these names do hold meaning in their respective ways, and I will get around to writing about them…sometime…but while I was thinking about kangaroos and windshields, another little light went off in my noggin. And since I am just bright enough to know that I didn’t have this thought, I knew that if was something that apparently God wanted me to write about and slam all over the Internet.

Many of you know the travails of my journey last year, in terms of my employment. I’m not going to go over all that mess again (especially when it can be read about here and here, among other places), but one of the many, many struggles within my heart and mind was the fact that I was laving behind a field – Student Affairs – that I had dedicated 14 years of my professional life to. To be certain, the whole “striking out into the unknown” bit was a bit intimidating, but THIS? Dropping everything I’d known as a career – from Admissions and Enrollment Management to Residence Life to Student Activities to Student Union Administration to Volunteer Services and Leadership Development – and going into something else entirely? Had I won the lottery or had an unknown benefactor show up to support me (why can you never find a Magwitch when you need one?) and I could have just spent my days writin’ and readin’, I would have felt much better about life. But I knew that – eventually – I would have to learn a new trade and start a new life, in many ways.

My pendulum would have to swing to the other side of the clock to see what all was being marked in time over there.

Now that I’m much smarter and able to be all introspect-y (since I can look back on this time and not be caught up in the freak-out of the moments), I realize that part of my fear (and let’s be frank here: lack of faith) can best be summed up by looking at windows and doors.

See – my (professional) life, the Student Affairs side, can best be looked at using a little window analogy. All I knew was what I was able to look through at the time. And that view – the scenery, the landscape, the people in it – was familiar and comfortable. Something I knew and was acquainted with. And even though the view through that window was at times smudged from fingerprints or faces being pressed to it, covered with dirt from the storms that would blow against it, or showed signs of where the little birds had flown into the window, slightly cracked it and then fell to the ground broken if not dead…I was always told that this view was the best, to not look away from it, because other windows were not as good, didn’t have the same view, and that this was as good as it gets. Now, to be frank, at times the view was breathtaking, beautiful, and full of utter joy.

But it’s kind of like wearing glasses. Those of you who are my visually impeded kin will understand: you can’t use the same prescription your entire life. You can’t wear the same frame at age, say, 38 that you had at age 24. Styles change. Eyes strengthen (or weaken). And with each change in style or prescription comes a new view. A new framework to see through, both literally and figuratively.

To be sure (again now that I am able to see this in retrospect) God had been trying to show me that it the era of that window was done and it was time to draw it to a close, but I was tempted time and again to prop the window open, to show that it was still usable. Funny – if you look at the end of I Corinthians 12, a chapter on spiritual gifts, it ends with the phrase “Now I will show you the more excellent way” (or some version of that) before it spills into the next chapter, which talks about love. Keeping with that window analogy, God wanted to SHOW me a more excellent way…and once I stepped back and made the conscious decision to let the window be closed (but not nailed shut – you never know when God might decide that that window can be used to let stale air out and fresh air in), man. Man, oh man.

I’m fairly certain that some of you may be familiar with the whole catchphrase of how when God closes a door, he opens a window, but what if the inverse is true as well? What if we allow God to close – or even just pull the blinds down – on what we see and what we’ve allowed ourselves to view life through? Shouldn’t there be a door that opens somewhere? And when you couple that idea with the promise Jesus gave in John 14 where He speaks about trusting in Him, and how in his Father’s house there are many rooms…and unless Jesus (who was, after all, a carpenter) can somehow manage to construct a house with no passageways, this house that God wants to lead us to has many, many rooms, each with a door that we can walk through. And into a new area, or areas, of blessing.

For me, this came to life yesterday when I attended the first Academic Deans Administrative Council Meeting, which is only slightly less narcolepsy inducing than it sounds. See – again, all my professional career, there have been people in my life who’ve expressed and lived an US VS THEM mentality, of Student Affairs VS Academic Affairs. We (the softies in student affairs) cared about the student as a whole, while they (academics) only cared about the student as a grade sheet, as a number. But to see the passion, the hear the care, to learn that my worldview had been so skewed for so many years…

And to know that I work with people who care about ME, who care about my professional goals, and who see such potential in me that they want me to succeed…

I thought that first door I walked through in my new job was cool enough. But now that I see down the hallway at the other doors, and see the exponential potential for blessings in my career...yeah, there are some doors I need to avoid (sadly, they’re not all marked with a warning like “BEWARE OF THE LEOPARD” or something), but still.

This house has got some cool rooms. God’s a great designer.

1 comment:

Nathan said...

So you're telling me it's not good that I've got the same pair of glasses I've had since I was 13 years old?
Seriously, a very well-written and well thought out post. Like you said, probably had some divine intervention attached to it, but none the less, very good. Has anyone ever told you you should do this kind of thing for a living, like say weekly, in front of people, after a band comes on?