“When we’re in a crisis and need help, our brains have instantly changed,” writes Dr. Henry Cloud.
He went on to describe what happened to me and my brain when Glenny darted into my kitchen to show me his boa constrictor. (Click on Have you ever been standing in front of a mirror when you yelled at your kids?)
“When we are under threat,” Dr. Cloud continues, “our higher brain’s ability to think clearly, make judgments, find solutions, solve problems, and calm down is being interrupted by a bath of stress hormones that take us to a ‘fight or flight’ mode.
“We get anxious,” he said, “and can be more prone to reacting than thinking.”
That was precisely what had happened to me. I felt under threat (boa constrictors do kill people, cows, pigs—I have another story to share with you about that). I didn’t think clearly, I made a hasty judgment, and instantly went into “fight or flight” mode.
And within seconds I regretted that. For many years I grieved over screaming at poor little Glenny (he was just entering second grade) and I feared he’d always remember my ugly face yelling down into his.
And he was only trying to welcome me to Lomalinda in the coolest way he could imagine!
But as I told you last week, Glenn has generously forgiven me. I still get emotional over his grace. (Click on Part Two: Standing in front of a mirror and yelling at kids.)
That afternoon, standing in my kitchen in that foreign environment—unpacking, perspiring, exhausted, and sick to my stomach—I had no way of knowing Glenny and his boa were just the beginning of the extraordinary, sometimes-fright-inducing, experiences God had planned for me in Lomalinda!
Adventures and surprises abound.”
But adventures and surprises are not my cup of tea.
Some people thrive on risky undertakings. When they call their names, they answer and plunge right into them. For a reason I struggle to understand, challenges thrill certain people. They handle the ups and down and surprises without flinching.
But not me.
My parents raised a non-daring, non-adventuresome girl—the wrong kind for the mission field. They prepared me to lead a conventional life, and working in Lomalinda was the least traditional existence I could imagine. . . .
“No one would use the words ‘confident’ or ‘risk-taking’ to describe me. If my graduating class had voted on who was most likely to live a middle-of-the-road life with no adventure, no risks, they’d have chosen me.” (Please, God, Don’t Make Me Go: A Foot-Dragger’s Memoir).
Yes, I was just beginning the ride of my life.
And along the way,
I would drop into some gaping potholes.
Sometimes I would try to create a detour
that God didn’t want me to take.
Other times I’d fall into mud puddles.
And at least once I would run out of gas.
On that first afternoon, I had no idea what the rest of that first week in Lomalinda held for me. It would stretch me in ways I’d never been stretched before. And much of it I wouldn’t do right. It would be messy.
But by the end of our family’s three years in Lomalinda, despite my initial protestations and ongoing cowardice, I would recognize that going there was the right thing to do.
And I still marvel at God’s grace:
“Lord, Your patience with me
is a source of amazement and contrition.
You accept me as I am,
but You never leave me there.”
(Lloyd John Ogilvie, Quiet Moments with God)
With God at the wheel, I had opportunities few people will ever experience, adventures I could never have dreamed up. Perhaps that’s what George Matheson meant when he prayed, “Show me that my tears have made my rainbows.”
God loved me enough—He pushed me and drove me to tears—because He knew the person I could be if only I’d trust Him. (From Chapter 23, Please, God, Don’t Make Me Go: A Foot-Dragger’s Memoir)
I had flown into that mission center as a scared, immature, unadventurous, doubting Thomas. God didn’t need me to accomplish His work in Colombia—He could have found someone else to do my job. He did more inside me than He did through me, and I suspect that was His point all along. He knew my faith and I needed to mature.
Through situations, experiences—sometimes derailing, other times almost imperceptible—God expanded my heart and soul and mind and revolutionized the way I would look at life and Him for the rest of my days. (From chapter 42, Please,God, Don’t Make Me Go: A Foot-Dragger’s Memoir)
But I didn’t know that then,
not on my first day in Lomalinda.