This past weekend was surprisingly pivitol for me, my faith and my life direction. I feel the only way to accurately capture the impact is to just go ahead and tell the story. I will prequel this post by saying that I experienced in full what it is like to feel as if the stars aligning in your life.
My father and I signed up together for a Communication Seminar together hosted by Landmark Education. The program is called the Team Management and Leadership Program. The course started this past weekend at a nation-wide conference in Seattle- attended by a fellow 12 minnesotans and 650 other national participants. The weekend in Seattle consisted of intentional conversations about effective Communication and Leadership skills- in a variety of small and large group settings.
Side Note: My faith is the context I live my life through and is my number once priority. Furthermore, there are several things I have found within and outside the church that enhance my faith. One of the most important contributions for holding me accountable to authentically living out my faith has been some of the seminars I have taken at Landmark Education. Landmark is a for-profit business that provides secular, rigorous classes to their customers designed to empower people to live lives that make a difference in the world and live lives that they love. Although many of the values Landmark teaches are inherently Christian- what I believe makes Landmark especially useful is how the business provides a structure in which participants are encouraged to sincerely practice and live out these values. Therefore, some of my most poignant experiences of practicing humility, generosity, having integrity, forgiveness, true listening and loving others has been at the proding of Landmark within the context of a course. Here is the link to their business for those who are curious:
I went into the weekend knowing I had too much going on in my life and realizing I needed to give up one of my commitments in order to do the others well (an act that is very difficult for me). What was on the chopping block in my mind was (among some other things) a non-profit I have been involved with called Ultimate Peace. I have been volunteering for them casually for some time- and they offer Ultimate Frisbee summer camps over in Israel to youth- with the intention of fostering comraderie, conflict-resolution and community. I started volunteering with them under the hope I would eventually make it over to Israel someday and help facilitate their camps in person. Here is the link to the organization/non-profit:
One of the requirements of the weekend TMLP course is to create a "Game in the world" -aka a large stretch goal you are working towards achieving for the next three months (deadline for achieving this goal is June 1st). It was amazing to me some of the games others in the course had achieved in the past- including providing dentures for 20,000 homeless children, building hundreds of roofs out of recycled tires, reinventing a large company to be employee owned and oriented... etc. etc. The stories went on and on. a news source that tracks the projects that others generate out of the cirriculum:
So there I am in the course, listening to others share their big, inspiring games. I initially wanted to design my game around completing the LSAT, and using the structure of the course to help me fulfill on study obligations (games in the world include weekly action plans, accountability calls and other structures to help participants succeed). I thought- if I can get the LSAT completed and out of my life- THEN i will be able to work on what matters and the things I want.
The course leader was facilitating a session on creating these 'games'- and he said "Your game objective needs to contribute to others. To light you up. The result needs to be bigger than just yourself." I slowly admitted my game being about getting a high score on the LSAT was none of those. Through this activity, for the first time in awhile I was able to be really honest with myself. First of all, I knew and had not admitted to others that I actually do not need the LSAT to get into my number one choice program at Northwestern. Really I was taking it again because I was stubborn, I wanted to conquer it after failing it once. Furthermore, I was taking it to impress others with my score. And, I wanted it as a back-up plan due to my lack of confidence regarding my ability to get into NorthWestern. Really me taking the LSAT again summed up to being an ego trip and a safe-guard all wrapped into one. This made me pretty uncomfortable.
I shared this with the other paticipants from MN at the conference over dinner. They were unbelievably generous listeners, and really helped me discover it was time for me to let go of this test and create room in my life for something else. And in the freedom of deciding to quit the LSAT- what immediately came to mind was revamping my involvement with Ultimate Peace and spending time THIS SUMMER coaching at one of their camps (!!!). Not only does this light me up and is a contribution in an area I really care about- it is a real opportunity to go to Israel! So now, my 'game in the world' or project in the course is about me coaching Ultimate Frisbee in Israel with the intention of fostering community. I created the goal of raising $10,000 dollars to fund my trip and give back to the organization.
And the bonus of all this? Right when the course ended- one of my best friends in the world Erin Curme spontaniously texted me to say she was going to go coach at the camp this summer too over the same week I was considering.
The night of this perspective shift (to that which is genuinely important to me)- One of the members of my group shared an analogy about vocation and life- He said: Life is a series of Dots- and one dot can lead you to a variety of other dots- and the journey of life has something to do with jumping from dot to dot- without quite knowing what is ahead and jumping anyway- trusting there are many more dots to follow. My uncle Glenn shared a similar analogy with me recently: he said his revelation with vocation was that vocation is not about having your whole life planned and figured out- it is really focusing instead on what the next five years has in store.
What I took these lessons to mean is: your life provides you with your next step, an immediate opportunity to be uncomfortable and stretch for the next hold. The trick sometimes is to continue to seize the opportunity to actually make to leap- to move your predictable/comfortable/likely journey into the unknown.
God Operates in the Unknown.
So here I am- actually embracing the opportunity to spend some time in Israel by the end of June. By freeing myself of the LSAT, I am more clear then ever that life has been pushing me to go to Israel for the last year. That is my next stretch point. My pastor Chad suggested a long time ago I do this- move to my life around to just take a trip over to Israel. I resisted this advice hard- seemed scary, non-sensicle. I couldn't see (and still can't) what it would lead to. But now- at least I am willing to accept this opportunity as the next step in my journey, as the hand God has offered me.
And the LSAT, along with my fears and identity and selfishness wrapped up in it, really was getting in my way. I wanted to force my life to go a natural, predictable route. But here I am saying there is something else more important at hand. And I will go to Grad school, but first I am going to do this- I am going to stop putting it off and just take it on. And I don't know if I can pull it off and I am scared because nothing is figured out yet- but that is unsettlingly ok with me.
So watch out world, because these next three months I am allowing for my compass to point north. My focus has shifted to one of terrifying clarity. And finally, I feel like what I am focusing on in my life is in line with what God wants.