One of the things I really like about MTI is the great concrete examples to help us remember the concepts we are learning - like the Yay Duck and Yuck Duck.
On Friday we had another one that I want to try and explain. It may take a couple of posts because I want to explain it well. It really helped me flesh out the stuff I’ve been going through, and will be facing in the next weeks and months and even years. I’m hoping it will help paint a picture for you, too, of some of what I’ve been processing.
When we walked into our classroom on Friday morning, several of the tables and chairs were pushed back. In the center of the room were eight chairs in a row. Well, really four in a row, then a big space, then another four. Our instructor Tim explained this was a suspension bridge showing what the process of leaving home and ministering cross-culturally is like.
He asked for a volunteer to cross the bridge and one of the young ladies going to Zimbabwe stepped up. Tim told her to get onto the first and second chairs. These represented a time of being Settled. The chairs were firmly on the ground. With no trouble at all up she got. How are you feeling? Good, good.
Before she stepped onto the next chair, Tim had two helpers put pieces of wood under chairs three and four. When she stepped on the third chair, it wobbled and teetered. These two chairs represented a period of Unsettling. How are you feeling? A little unsteady.
Okay, move on. She stared down at the wide open space. Tim brought out the next part of the bridge - three balance balls held together with long pieces of saran wrap. You know, the big bouncy exercise balls. If you’ve even been on one, you know they aren’t the most stable things. In fact, that’s another name for them – stability ball. The point is as you sit on it, you engage your core muscles in order to keep from tipping off.
So, there she stood, on a wobbly, unsettled chair, looking at her next steps. This, explained Tim, represents Chaos. How are you feeling? Uh, not sure.
For a while she hesitated, thinking through what to do. What she did was unexpected – and awesome! The way she got onto the Chaos balls was to get down on her knees. She also put down her hands. Everyone cheered as she did. It wasn’t the most stable, but in that position she was able to stay on top instead of tipping over.
From there she had to move onto the fifth and sixth chairs. Unfortunately, she didn’t get to move back to a Settled place. Instead, the helpers put wood under them again. This represented Resettling. Similar to Unsettling, only, of course, in a different place. How are you feeling? Better.
The final steps took her back onto solid, stable chairs. This represented a New Settled. Again, not the same place as before. She was in a different place, and really, was different from her journey to get there. How are you feeling? Her smile said it all.
No doubt you have already figured out some of what all I’m going to share tomorrow. Especially about her posture in the midst of Chaos. Until then, I invite you to think some about the times in your own life where you’ve felt Settled, Unsettled, in Chaos, ReSettled, and then in a New Settled.