A better choice

I have very few rules in my classroom. They are as follows:

  • Work hard
  • Do right
  • Be safe
  • Be kind

That’s it. And I have these little cards that I put on a student’s desk that tells them that they have a warning and need to sign the discipline log. Thus far, that has been the extent of a behavior issue– a warning card– and that’s only happened once. It’s been a pretty well behaved few weeks.

That was, until one of my favorite students lied to me.

We are self-preservationists at heart. It’s an instinct. And adolescents are just figuring that out– that lying can save you sometimes, and sometimes you don’t get caught. I wish someone would have informed me of that year one, but I eventually figured it out.

I hate having hard conversations, even with children. But I told her that she is loved and I forgive her. I told her that it took courage to admit to the lie. She did not appear worried about the consequences on my end, but rather, the consequences at home. I remember that. And as a people pleaser, disappointing my mother was one of the worst punishments of all. I think my young student and I have something in common.

The cards that I place on a student’s desk read, “Please stop what you are doing and make a better choice!” There were so many people in my life that said that to me. In thinking about how to love my students today, I realized that God has these cards, too. Sometimes they are people, sometimes a circumstance. But He gently places them before us and encourages us in another direction.

A thinker and a feeler

Lindsey is an emotional person. For some of you, this is not news. In fact, for any one who has spent any time with her, you probably knew this right away.

The funny thing is, I am too. Now, that might surprise some people. Anyone who has seen me at work or observed how I engage in the study of theology might be very surprised. But, it’s true.

I’ve been a big fan of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator since college. It is a framework for categorizing and understanding personality types. You can click through to the site above for more info, but basically it defines four aspects of personality and categorizes you in one of two opposing types. The combination of the four indicators are your type. I am, for example an ENFP– Extroverted, Intuitive, Feeler, Perceiver. My type is summarized as:

Warmly enthusiastic and imaginative. See life as full of possibilities. Make connections between events and information very quickly, and confidently proceed based on the patterns they see. Want a lot of affirmation from others, and readily give appreciation and support. Spontaneous and flexible, often rely on their ability to improvise and their verbal fluency.

Lindsey is a Feeler as well, but she was shocked to find out that I am too. We joked about it, but honestly she is on the extreme end of that type and I am borderline Thinker/Feeler. Compared to her, I look like I’m straight ‘T’.

Why do I bring this up? Well, because in the last few weeks as we have dealt with big questions and decisions about the future this difference is really apparent. I may categorize as a Feeler, but I’m still my Dad’s son. Is there are problem in front of us? Okay, identify the options, look for pros and cons, then make a decision. Honestly, when it comes to dealing with decisions or problems I am starting to realize that the nuclear family I came from could have stolen Nike’s ad slogan, “Just Do It.” It’s how I was brought up.

At times I do struggle with the emotional parts of the decision. I am always cognizant of people involved in a situation, and  how they see the world. My ENFP type tends to be exceptional at empathetically seeing the world from another’s perspective. All of these are inputs for me, but at the end of the day I am driven to act– to decide.

Lindsey is not indecisive, but she does approach decisions and questions differently. I rarely let emotions dictate what I do, but it does inform why I do what I do. For my wife, emotion is much, much more of a driver.

This has led to frustrations lately. Even tonight we had a very small question of how to do something and I wanted to pipe up with that slogan. I wanted to tell her, “Just do it. Get it over with.” But I didn’t. I knew that there was no reason to push her. She dealt with it and we moved on. No harm, no foul.

But some things are not as easy. Sometimes I see a very clear and logical path forward. She looks at the same question and sees emotions– hers, others, mine. Neither is right or wrong. No honestly, I mean that. After all I am a Feeler, I get it. But, it isn’t always easy to come to a decision when two people approach it so differently. But, we’re learning. After all, I didn’t offer the unhelpful advice that I would have a month ago.

That’s progress, right?

Affect with an “a”

I tell my students all the time that the choices they make now will affect things in the future. The future I’m referring to in their cases could be the next five minutes or later in the school year. It usually doesn’t go beyond that for them. And they can still make radical life changes at their age. They can because no one is relying on them for anything– they are the dependents. I find this situation interesting because my students don’t understand the concept of “affecting” others. They’re so wrapped up in themselves and their own lives that it doesn’t make sense to them. Heck– they think the word begins with an e!

But for me, I understand that word all too well. My actions and choices affect others. And now they seriously affect another. The longer we’re married, the more I am made aware that so much of what I do or don’t do affects my husband– for good or for bad. And when there’s a big decision, like a major life decision, I have to think about how it affects me, him, and us. Oh yeah– and the future us.

That’s where I am today. It’s major life decision time and the decision making process has changed.

Cookies don’t belong in the fridge

I don’t have all the answers. I don’t even have some of the answers most of the time. It’s hard for me to admit, and the folks who know me well are no doubt shocked to hear me admit it. But it’s true. Other people are right more often than I am. I mean, it’s really a question of odds.

The aforementioned, non-refrigerated, cookies.

It is a hard truth for me to face. I like being right often, I even pride myself on it, though that is a mistake.

In the picture to the right, that’s a note my wife left me this morning after I put fresh baked cookies in the fridge overnight. I mean a fridge keeps things good longer, right? I thought it was the right call.

Well, apparently not. The cookies were decidedly better non-refrigerated than refrigerated, as my wife certainly knew they would be. I am sure that some one, some where has cookies that belong in the fridge, but these are not those cookies.

Of course, the note from Lindsey was meant to be funny (and it was, I laughed for a good solid minute because I could just see the expression on her face as she wrote it…), but it is a great reminder that I don’t know it all. It’s a reminder that God put this woman in my life for a reason– well for many reasons actually. But some of them, maybe even the chief reasons, are to help me, to advise me, and know things I just don’t know.

I am thankful He made her for that purpose. Even with our struggles, life is so much better with this helpmate by my side. It’s not perfect, and being married doesn’t really solve your problems, but it’s a great thing.

So thank you God for this woman you gave me. And for her non-refrigerated oatmeal cookies– they’re super tasty.