Forest and Trees

I have come to learn something very valuable about myself in the last 6 months.  I am a learner and a restorer with a high sense of responsibility.  Through taking the Gallup StrengthsFinder test, I have seen qualities about myself to enlighten me as to who I am and how I operate.  One of my top traits is a Learner which is someone who “constantly strives to learn and improve.  The process of learning is as important to them as the knowledge they gain.”  That is SO me!  I am constantly pursuing fascinating subjects, interesting ideas or digging deeper.  It isn’t about becoming an expert but a hunger to know more and encompass a subject matter.  If you have been subjected to any one of my conversations where I interject “did you know…” you will understand where this comes from! 

Another part of my personality I scored high on was a Restorer.  “People with strong Restorative talents love to solve problems. They enjoy the challenge of analyzing symptoms, identifying what is wrong, and finding the solution.”  Again…SO me!  I really do find it enjoying when I see a problem to bring order to it. 

The third part of my personality is Responsibility.  “Responsibility talents take psychological ownership for anything they commit to, whether it is large or small, and they feel emotionally bound to follow it through to completion.”  Umm…yes.  I feel the weight of what people ask me to do and want to do it with a high degree of carefulness and thoroughness.  Here is the conflict of these three that I am wrestling through.  

Scenario: I am asked to plant a tree to which I find exciting so I say yes.  I start down the path to completion and my responsibly nature kicks in.  People are counting on me. They are expecting and desiring top notch quality and I want to deliver that to them because I want to give them my best.  In steps the Restorer.  I start asking questions and seeing problems with the current system of tree planting.  I ask the “why are you doing it this way?” and “could we improve this process for you and make this better?”  In order to do that and make this great, the learner steps in.  I am not an expert in tree planting, so I have to dig into some necessary specifics to accomplish the task.  I enjoy learning but the more I learn about trees the more subjects are opened up to me.  The larger the project becomes.  Then I get 85% into planting and I realize that the system is SO broken they should just start from scratch (and probably should re-do 50 other systems that are currently in place if they really wanted to make this tree business a success), stress that I can’t really get to the bottom of the learning because I have sunk so deep into the learning process that I can’t dig myself out and then start getting really stressed that I am not going to carry this out to a successful completion as a responsible person really should.

I get totally lost in the forest.  I was asked to plant a tree.  Instead, my solution is cut down the forest because it is too diseased and start a re-foresting project that could take 10 years but ultimately would be more sustainable.

It has been a fascinating study on myself to see how some amazing qualities that I have are the very things that trip me up daily!  The things that make me a success are the very things that make me a failure.  This came to light today when I started working on a compliance policy for the General Data Protection Regulation Policy that the EU put in place (I know…riveting stuff!)  Our organization needs to revamp our privacy policy and practices to become compliant.  As I started into this process, I started seeing more and more holes in our current system and started feeling the stress and pressure of all of the systems we would have to put in place in order for this to work the way it “should”.  I saw all of the questions that needed answering, all of the gaps of knowledge and systematic failures we have and our current inability to support a new system.  Of course I want to be legally compliant so I felt the pressure of making sure we are legally compliant.  As I sat here this afternoon I thought, I can only see the forest.  I can’t see the trees.

Not all of the trees are diseased.  The forest doesn’t need to be cut down and I don’t need to become an arborist.  I need to find one tree to work on and focus on that.  Baby steps.

The journey of learning more about myself has been incredibly helpful in adapting and coping with life.  Embracing who I am to capitalize on my stregths and being aware of my weaknesses makes me a better tool for the Kingdom.


Categories: A little about me, Melanie's Ministry | Tags: , , , , | 3 Comments

Reflection and Growth

I don’t think anyone ever said life was easy.  Somehow though when life gets rough you just don’t expect it.  Maybe you do…I don’t. Not all the time.  In the midst of the storm when I’m seasick, scared, and out of energy, I start cursing all of the people that didn’t warn me not to get on the boat to avoid the storm.  When I really think about it….was not getting on the boat of adulthood really an option?  I don’t think so.    It’s just hard realizing that you can’t avoid it and also realizing your own inadequacies at dealing with the storm.

You may have notice that I have basically been MIA for the second half of 2017.  I realized that I was decent at writing during the first half.  I had plenty of fleeting thoughts about writing in the second half.  I gave it the old college try several times (as reflected in several unpublished drafts).  But then storms happened.

I am reminded of  the disciples when they are with Jesus on the Sea of Galilee.  It’s just another day on the boat with Jesus and a storm comes up.  These experienced fisherman are so afraid they think they are going to die!  They wake Jesus and he immediately calms this raging storm.  The crisis is over and they are safe.  The Lord was protecting them all along.  The storm wasn’t going to kill them it just felt like that in the moment.  Their response was amazement…“What kind of man is this? even the winds and the sea obey Him!”  Can you imagine Peter instead saying to John “You know…we should blog about this.  The Jews in Jerusalem would love this!”  Because in the midst of the storm you are just trying to not die!

Even though I wasn’t in a literal storm like the disciples, the last half of 2017 was a really intense period of time for me.  Burnout, emotional stress, weighty matters to sort though.  Tough stuff.  Quite possibly some of the hardest things I personally had to work through.  You wouldn’t necessarily know it by looking at me on the outside or seeing my life (maybe I put on a good show?).  Those who were with me on a regular basis (some co-workers, my husband, a few close friends) knew the struggle. A buildup of circumstances had me totally depleted by year-end and non-functional.

I did not have the same response as the disciples.  Not then.  My response toward God varied from hurt, anger, neutrality, confusion, sadness and numbness.  I was so frustrated by stories of Godly people going through storms and the outcome was “they are walking with God in the midst of this. Praise the Lord they have a good testimony.  They are trusting in him through this whole thing.”  Really?  Because I am angry. I know God is there, I know he loves me but I just can’t process this right now.  So many times I just called on the Holy Spirit to intercede for me because I just couldn’t do it myself.

The storm is over and I have a clearer perspective of what happened.  These are my takeaways and reflections.

  1. God knew what I needed to survive the storm. My husband was incredible by giving me space, supporting my needs for rest, processing really hard situations with me and being my best friend.  I had the support of some really incredible co-workers.  As I needed to process difficult circumstances they listened to endless conversations with me as I tried to stumble my way forward.  They gave me the space and freedom to take the break I needed and willingly took on extra work to support me.  I am so grateful for their friendship.  I had friends who knew I was hurting and they best thing they did was allow me to process and be ok with what was happening.  They didn’t fix me, change me or condemn me.  They prayed, asked how they could help and checked in to ensure I didn’t drown.  They didn’t tell me to row harder.  In the midst of the storm, you can’t appreciate the fullness of the resources that God gives you but they are there.  They look different in each storm but God gave me these resources to make it through.
  2. I am a different person because of the storm.  I don’t want difficult circumstances to be the method that God uses to change me.  That’s horrible and painful and it feels so cruel.  I know in my heart though that I am a different person because of my experience.  A better, wiser, more mature person as a result.  I haven’t arrived nor am I finished but I’ve made progress.  I won’t ever celebrate the pain because I don’t want to go back but I can appreciate the outcome and I am grateful that the storm allowed for a new healthy me to emerge.
  3. The love of God is astounding.  I can only say this now….after months of calm waters.  I was sitting in a worship session with a group of strangers at a conference and we started to sing.  I have no idea what song and out of nowhere I just started crying.  Uncontrollable tears.  It was like a dam broke in my soul that finally allowed me to speak to God in an authentic way again and appreciate the fact that he didn’t leave me.  I felt him right there with me saying “It’s ok Melanie.  I’m right here.  I’m not angry with you.  I never abandoned you.  I know what you went through and I provided for you even though you were struggling to talk to me.  I understand.”  That is mind boggling to me!  The idea that God didn’t just throw his hands up and desert me.  He even continued to provide for me in the midst of the struggle.  There is no quid pro quo with God.  He gives and sacrifices and provides despite who I am.  I can’t begin to fathom that depths of that love.

The good news is there is a calmness now.  I am still growing and learning and I pray that never ends.  I don’t pray for storms because they are hard (and to be frank I don’t like them).  I can say upon reflection that good has come from the storm even if I can’t comprehend the whole of it.

Categories: Life on the outside, Melanie's Ministry | Tags: , , , | 6 Comments

A little bit of Hygge

20170926_074742 (1)Hygge (pronounced hoo-ga) is a Danish and Norwegian word which can be described as a quality of cosiness that engenders a feeling of contentment or well-being.

If you have ever moved or done home renovation you can attest to the fact that your life is anything but Hygge….or calm…or normal.  It tends to be chaotic, full or tripping hazards and perhaps lots of fast food. Warm cups of tea get traded for on-the-go cups of coffee or other caffeine to get you through the day.  The moments you use to take to soak up nature or embrace the calm are traded for 5 minute showers to remove drywall dust.

My husband and I moved this summer and have some really tight deadlines to finish 20170926_080419 (1)projects before our lease is up.  There are many hidden blessings in this whole process which I am so grateful for.  We were forced to finish our rent leaving us in two places for 4 months.  The hidden blessing was a little extra time to do some home renovation in the new place.  Our new place while in total chaos overlooks a small lake which is quite calming.

I am a person that likes only a certain level of chaos.  I don’t handle overtired.  I can only take so many tripping hazards in my kitchen before I snap.  It’s a constant battle to remind myself to keep it together, take a break and this too shall pass.

Life at work has been equally fast paced.  Of my own doing/necessity I have taken on several large deadline specific projects.  This wouldn’t be possible without a great team to help me.  Mentally though there is a lot weighing on me. The hidden blessing is the amazing amount of grace I get. My co-workers see my weariness and bleary eyes and don’t tell me to suck it up.  They offer sympathy and try to ease my burdens.  I am so thankful that I work in a place that gives me the flexibility to not burn out and ease off when necessary without guilt.

Cup of Tea

Practicing Hygge

So in the midst of this chaos I am trying to embrace the little things.  Embrace what the Danes call Hygge.  Small cozy and enjoyable things that bring me back to sanity.  My cozy cup of tea, nature, sleep, family, Peanut Butter M&Ms. It doesn’t make the drywall dust go away and Hygge doesn’t paint the garage walls but it does make life seem a little more tolerable until the end of the chaos.

Categories: Life on the outside, Melanie's Ministry | Tags: , , | 2 Comments

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