Two Questions

In addition to the article I’d like you to read in the post below (already aged a half-life since it was written) I’d like you think about two questions.  These two questions were given to me at my Regional Leadership Team meeting yesterday by a very wise colleague.  They are two of the most timely questions for helpful dialogue with just about anyone you encounter.  To get a grip on the first question, please watch this short video from an administrator at a university in my GFM Area.  Click here to watch.

andrew mortin wash u

Q1 – What losses am I experiencing?

What’s happening at Washington University is just one example of what is happening everywhere else where graduation commencements would have been taking place this spring.  The Class of 2020 is about to get ripped off!  As Chancellor Andrew Martin expresses so meticulously, the lack of closure and celebration students will experience this spring is far from trivial.  No matter how much effort it will take for high-school students, college students, graduate and professional students to technically cross their academic finish line, corona is robbing us all of that delicious sweetness with which ceremony decorates accomplishment.

What’s the loss?  Closeness at the finish-line with others who’ve journeyed with you.  That last day of serious, on-sight school work and the crunch of classroom doors shutting behind you for the last time.  The sound that last paper makes landing on the teacher’s desk in a stack with the rest.  That last ounce of passion from your favorite teacher who is also being shorted the joy of seeing you finish.  Family!  Family coming on to your turf, sitting through your ceremony, taking pictures of you crossing the stage, embarrassing you with their uncouth hollering.  Receptions and parties happening all over town in the latter half of May.  That’s the loss.  You’ll still get your degree or your diploma.  Your tassel.  Your honors chord.  But will anyone get to see those robes?  My son Silas was given everything in his high school graduation kit… EXCEPT the robe.  “They’ll pick those up at school a day or two before graduation.”  Really?

As you fight your way through whatever else corona hands you, ask yourself the loss question.  What am I losing?  How can I minimize the loss?  How can I best grieve the loss I can’t avoid?  How can I help someone else with their loss?  Who can I turn to share some of the grief of mine?

Q2 – What am I afraid of?

Check-in question number two is a little harder to ask.  A little harder to answer.  Just as important to ventilate.  What are you afraid of?  As we name our fears we expose uncomfortable things lurking inside us.  We have to face things we’re weak at or insecure about.  We run the risk of awful-izing and exaggerating our fears.  But without dialogue, our fears can drive us where we don’t want to go.  Our fears can keep us isolated and suspicious when we should be open and cooperative.

Just today I had a chance to try out these two questions.  I had an appointment with a possible supporter that had to be cancelled because of the social distancing guidelines our community is trying to follow.  We had the appointment via Zoom call (video).  I asked my friend these two questions right at the top of the conversation.  It was a simple step of conversational wisdom that helped our interaction flow.

I encourage you to do the same.  Or find another discussion question or two that works for you.  Meditate on this:  “What question could I start a conversation with that would help me listen, build trust and scale back anxiety?  Let me know how your conversations are going.

Meanwhile, please be in prayer for students and teachers as they try to finish this impossible semester.  Pray for administrators and decision makers.   Pray for parents and families whose homes have suddenly turned into school rooms!  And pray especially for every member of The Class of 2020 you know.

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Feel free to text or email me your thoughts:

Tim Perry    402.709.7911     tim.perry@intervarsity.org

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