College Lessons and Things

College Lesson #33: Don’t Let Perfection Paralyze You

The lady who came to speak to us in Chapel last week talked to us about a lot of stuff.

She told us that all her life she was a perfectionist, because she thought the if she managed to keep everything together, and everything looked good on the outside, everything would be okay. And in her trying to make things perfect, she missed some of the important things. One day, she was driving and got into a car accident and was paralyzed from the chest down.

And she realized that her life now is fuller than it ever was. And she told us to not let the “ideal perfection” paralyze us.

I think that is an important sentiment for everyone. Sometimes, we want everything to work out just the way we want and we get so caught up, we get stuck. How frequently do you start a project and decide that it wasn’t working out like you planned and you just stop and decide you’ll work on it later? Does it ever really get done? Why do you think that is?

It’s because we glorify perfection. But, if you finished, what would you learn?

Don’t get me wrong, I love when things work out the way I plan, but sometimes they don’t. And instead of getting caught up on the little things, we need to accept it and move on. Sometimes, what you think was wrong will  grow on you. Or you’ll learn something new. What people used to think were failures are now super important. And sometimes, what we thing is really super important, really isn’t a big deal.

Perfection can paralyze us. It can stop us from doing what needs to happen. Don’t let it.

College Lessons and Things

College Lesson #32: Be Present Here and Now

Today was probably the best chapel we’ve had all year, in my opinion. Even more than that, I think it was what I needed to hear.

Today we had Sarah Thebarge come speak to us in chapel. Let me tell you her story:

She had it all planned out. She wanted to be a medical journalist for a big newspaper or a magazine. When she finished her undergrad, she decided she wanted two master’s degrees: one in medical science and one in journalism because she believed this would make her the most competitive in her field. She was accepted to Yale. After graduating, she wanted to go report on the health system in Africa. She was dating a guy and they were making plans to get married. She had everything she could want.

She went to the doctor and was diagnosed with breast cancer. She had surgery and the cancer was removed and the doctor told her there was no chance of it coming back. When she went back for a follow-up, they found that it had come back and it was more aggressive. She had more surgery and started chemo but she had to put everything else on hold. And everything pretty much fell apart.

When she got done with chemo, she got sick with pneumonia. When she was finally got out of the hospital, she decided there was nothing left for her in Connecticut and sold all of her stuff and flew to Portland.

When she got there, she had only a suitcase of clothes.

One day she was riding the train, and a lady with two young girls got on the bus. The younger of the two was very tired and crawled into Sarah’s lap and proceeded to pass out. She was worried the mom would think she was trying to take her daughter, so she started a conversation with the lady. The lady, who did not speak English very well, told her that they were refugees from Somalia and she had five daughters under the age of nine.

When they got off, the lady left Sarah with her address. A few days late, she went over there and found that this family had nothing. The girls didn’t really have clothes except what they were wearing, there was no furniture or food. So she decided, as a human being, she was going to help this family. Her church helped and she managed to get the girls real shoes and clothes and food. She spent a lot of time with them, a few nights a week, teaching them about America and helping them with their school work.

And she decided to help send these girls to college, so she wrote a book.

When the book was put together, she looked over the first manuscript and felt something missing. There was nothing about her character to explain why she decided to help this family. And that’s when she realized that while they were very different, they were the same. They were both refugees of sorts and they both wanted to start over. So, while she was helping them, she realized they were helping her.

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She taught us a lot today, actually. It was a really great story.

She talked about how broken she felt and how many pieces she felt like her life was in and that God came in and put it together in a way that she never imagined.  She never got to go to Africa, but she met this Somali family. She never wrote for a newspaper or magazine, but she put her writing skills to use and wrote a book.

Her first thing was this: Bad things happen. And we’re not going to like them. But good is going to come from it. And we’re going to get through it, and we’ll be better on the other side.

Her next thing was that God uses the broken. First she talked about the Pharisees, whom Jesus did not like; they “lived in their heads and not their hearts.” She talked about Paul and his transformation from a persecutor of Christians to a man who proclaimed the Gospel. And Sarah and Elizabeth, who were well beyond child-bearing age. God took them and blessed them with sons who He used to change the world.

Her last thing was that when God uses us to change the world, he changes us first.

And then she made one of the coolest connections I have ever heard in my life. Jesus talks about His people being His vessels. And Jesus is called the Living Water. And we’re broken. And this Living Water wells up and fills us and then spills over into the people around us.

Sometimes, we need to slow down and live in the now, and we forget that. Sometimes we’re too busy with planning for the future. We’re too busy worrying about what’s next. And God has a way of slowing us down and saying, “I got that, I need you here.” If Sarah had decided she was too busy to visit this family, she would never have been able to help them. And she would never felt the love and experienced the healing the gave her. And that was His plan.

Here and now there is a plan for all of our lives and our struggles are nothing with God on our side. Because He’s got the big plan already figured out. He just needs us to listen. And be here.

College Lessons and Things

College Lesson #28: Attention Gives Power

A few weeks ago in chapel the speaker gave us some tips about being happy in life.

The most important thing he said was that attention gives power. He explained that in today’s world we focus on the negative aspects of ourselves and our lives. Because we focus on the negative, we give the things we don’t like about ourselves and our lives power. If a person focuses on their inability to do something, say math, he won’t really be able to see all the things he does well, say english. He told us that we all have something significant to offer to the world but if we focus on the negatives, we won’t be able to share our gifts. In the same way, if we focus on the good things in our lives, what we need to do with our lives will be easy to find.

He then gave us 5 steps to being happy:

  1. Discover yourself His suggestion to discover yourself was to spend some time alone and really get to know who you are. What makes you happy? What do you want from life? What makes you passionate? All those questions that no one else can give answers to.
  2. Find good friends The speaker then explained the importance of good friendships. Friends should be around to help us and pick us up when we need a boost. A good friend has similar values to yours. Good friends are important because they help keep you on track. If people surround themselves with people who have goals similar to their own, they won’t keep you from your goals.
  3. Have a positive attitude He told us that negativity breeds negativity; in a similar way, positivity breeds positivity. Plus, no one wants to spend time with someone who is always upset at everything.
  4. Discover God’s plan for your life He basically told us that once we figure out what our purpose is, everything will fall into place.
  5. Have discipline He discouraged laziness because lazy people won’t get anywhere in life.

Lastly, he explained to us that “everything good doesn’t go together.” He was talking specifically about relationships. He meant that sometimes people just aren’t meant to be together. Not that one is bad for the other or anything. But I think there’s more to it than that. I think he meant that one person can’t do everything. It’s good to want to try everything and all that but not everyone is called to do the same things. People have to be unique or our society would be monotonous and boring.

Have a good rest of the week everyone.

College Lessons and Things

College Lesson #21: “You Got What You Got.”

We’ve had a two-part session in Chapel on God’s will the past two weeks. A local pastor named Austin Fisher.

Last week he told us that God doesn’t tell anyone specifically His will for their lives. He gives a bunch of guidelines (the 10 Commandments, The Beatitudes, all that stuff) and we have to fill in the rest. He compared it to the Hebrew language, in which the vowels are assumed so you have to use the context of the word to figure out what it is.

His example was this:
You can use the letters L and V to make a bunch of random words:

  • LOVE
  • LIVE
  • RELATIVE

But there are also a bunch of words you can’t make:

  • GOPHER
  • DINNER
  • NAPTIME

His point was that people have to be willing to do what they can with what they’ve got.

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This week he talked about the choices we all have to face. He said that God wants us to pick something and follow through with it. It may not be the right thing but it’s something. You have to make the choice or you are going to get stuck. He said there are no perfect decisions (though some are better than others).

Then he told us to not worry about the big stuff because it’s all the little things that make the difference. For example: if you think about when you’ve been happiest, it was when you weren’t trying to be happy; you just were and you were happy. He used marriage as his example. Many couples that get married are as close as they’ll ever be long before they are married.

Similarly, if you are a mean person and you are trying to find someone to marry, you won’t. “You are a mean person and no one will ever want to marry you. Fix yourself first!” That’s what he told us. It’s the small stuff that matters.

And then he told us we need to stick to things we are good at. “You got what you got” were his words. That’s not to say you can’t learn new things and stuff but there are just some things you can’t do. If you have struggled with math all your life, don’t study to be an accountant because you will be miserable the whole time. He said we need to use our talents and strengths and everything will fall into place.

Everything always falls into place.

College Lessons and Things

College Lesson #17: “There’s always a Chapter 41”

This entry is a little bit like #14 . Just so you know.

Today in Chapel Chuck Walker came to talk to us. He talked about the story of Joseph [from the bible, just so we’re clear], which I hope we all have heard of (basically, the youngest son in a family is favored above his brothers and they hate him for it; they make plans to kill him but instead they sell him into slavery. In the house he ends up in, his master puts Joseph in charge of all the master’s affairs; when the master leaves the house, his wife tries to make advances on Joseph. Joseph does not respond to said advances, and one day she cries rape and Joseph is thrown into prison. There he ends up with the prisoners of the king and he does as well as can be expected in prison. He eventually interprets the king’s dreams and becomes the king’s head advisor and is reunited with his family. It’s in Genesis 37-50 if you’d like to read all about it.) There’s a good happy ending. The middle isn’t nearly as happy though.

Joseph is in prison. He’s doing his best but prison life can only be so good. He has faith in God, however, and he makes it to chapter 41 (in chapter 40, he’s imprisoned and doing the best he can).

Mr. Chuck Walker told us that for every Chapter 40 in our lives there will be a 41. Whether you believe in God or not, you have faith in something and that faith tells you that things always right themselves in the end. Life has a way of always working out for the better.

No matter how big your problems are, and every problem feels big when it’s here and now and yours, they always, always work out in the end. Something good comes from every problem: you might learn something new about yourself or meet someone new or teach someone something or find something you’ve been missing. Every problem is a good thing, even though it’s hard at the time of the struggle, it’s worth it in the end.

Every Chapter 40 has a Chapter 41.

College Lessons and Things

College Lesson #14: “It’s a Bad Chapter in a Good Book”

Today in Chapel we had Jinny Henson come talk to us. She lost her daughter a few years ago in a bus accident.

She said something that stuck. “It’s just a bad chapter in a really good book.” Obviously, she was referring to the terrible time she was going through at the time. But today she was okay. She explained to us that even though she would give anything for her daughter back, she sees all the good that came from it. Her daughter inspired many through the services that were held for her.

I think it’s important for us to recognize that even during the hardest parts of our lives, something good will come from it if we are willing to look for it. That whole one door closes and another opens thing. We have to remember that we don’t have bad lives, we have bad days as part of our wonderful lives. So take a minute to notice something good about your life today. Don’t let a bad day keep you down.

On another note, on October 29th, in honor of her daughter, Maggie Lee’s, birthday, people around the world celebrate her life by doing good. This has become unofficially known as Maggie Lee For Good Day. In all honesty, you should be nice to people all the time but the idea is to do something extraordinarily nice for someone. Over 18,000 people have participated as of today.

If you wanna learn about her or share how you got involved, here’s the link to the sight about her daughter: http://maggieleeforgood.org/. They like to hear the stories about how Maggie is still changing lives.

So. Recap. Lesson: It’s a good life with the occasional bad day. Don’t let it get you down. And be nice to people. Everyone needs some kindness.

College Lessons and Things

College Lesson #9: Four Ways to Deal With Your Problems

Today in Chapel we had a guy named Tim Elmore (google him if you’d like, he had some cool perspectives and he’s written a few books and things) come talk to us. He talked about how, especially in college, a person has to focus his energy. He used a flood versus river analogy. He talked about how they’re both very powerful forces of nature but a flood has little direction or depth and it just flows everywhere and ruins things in it’s path; in contrast, a river flows in one direction and has depth and can be constructive. He said we should strive to make our lives more like a river: we should find a focus and then we should go with it; not “flow” like a flood because then our lives will have no depth.

Next he spoke of our troubles. He compared them to prisons. We all have them. He told us there are four ways to deal with your problems (and we usually use more than just one):

  1. CURSE THEM (This is not literally cursing your problems, though that would fall into this category as far as dealing with your problems.):  We can curse our problems and place blame but it doesn’t change what happened. Then, because we’re in a bad mood, we snap at everyone who talks to us. Because we usually need to talk to people to get things done, this approach renders its victims useless to anyone.
  2. NURSE THEM: We can nurse our problems until they swallow us whole. We can wallow in self-pity and when someone asks what’s wrong, we unload on them with all of our issues.  This is where we get the idea about pity loving company, because it does. “Look at how bad my problems are, feel sorry for me.” You still can’t fix you’re problems like this, no matter who’s sorry for you.
  3. REHEARSE THEM: This is that fun thing we all do where we replay the worst parts of our days and think about what happened and how you could have changed it or avoided the problem. This still can’t help you because, as cliche as it is, you can’t change the past.
  4. REVERSE THEM:  This is the approach he challenged us to use. We can use our problems to make us better and to get us further in life, much like the one door closes, a few more open; if you are still holding on to your problems, you won’t be able to see the door and move on.

So. Reverse you’re problems and let them make you a better person. Let you’re problems go and focus your energies where you need to and opportunities will arise.