Thursday, September 4, 2008

Who is in control, here?

I’m into my second week of graduate class and I find it to be an interesting world. The classes have important sounding names and huge expensive textbooks that make you feel you will be learning everything there is in the world to know.

It is interesting how when you go to class you learn more about the professor than the subject matter at hand.

I remember being newly married and excited to take a class from my father-in-law. Being an artist and an inventor he had a reputation for being somewhat of a free-spirit and he did not disappoint. I learned new ways of looking at God’s world and new perspectives for teaching children from a professor who surprised us by occasionally standing on a chair to make a point. Recently, while cleaning at my mother-in-law’s house, I found a copy of a letter she wrote her family. In it she expounded on the fact that Marx was a bit nervous about having his daughter-in-law in class and was determined to get serious about teaching this semester.

My current professors do not stand on their chairs (unless the media screen gets stuck) but one professor does sit on the desk cross-legged. I am somehow pleased to see he wears Birkenstocks; as if that verifies the validity of his lecture.

Another of my professors paces the floor and tells us that learning comes down to “skill and will.” He expounds that if we learn, model and teach good learning strategies we will retain control over what we know.

That “c” word makes me a little nervous. God has spent most of my adult life trying to teach me that I have no control.

In his introductory lecture this professor informed us that his learning strategies could help us take control of "out of control situations." He warned us that we might have a child with Autism, a spouse with MS, or a parent with Alzheimer’s and that if we had the right learning strategies we could keep the doctors and experts from wrestling control from our hands.

Hmm, is that so?

I don’t have experience with a child with Autism but when our three year old son started having idiopathic seizures I started reading books on Epilepsy. I read no less than a dozen books including a medical text. Not once during the years Joel suffered seizures, ambulance rides, emergency room visits, medicine that made it nearly impossible to learn, and medical tests and blood draws did I ever, ever feel I had control.

I lost a close friend this summer to MS. She was valedictorian of our high school class and lettered in every sport she tried out for. She was a stand-out athlete for the Huskers and earned many awards in her college coaching career. She was an intelligent, loving and talented child of God. I am certain that she kept abreast of the most current information regarding her illness and did whatever she could to stay healthy and alive to love her husband and her daughter. Learning strategies did not give her control over the length or quality of her life.

Every week I drive 30 miles to visit my in-laws. My father-in-law, an intelligent creative man, has suffered with Alzheimer’s for almost 15 years. My mother-in-law, equally intelligent and creative is very well read and well versed on the subject. But when she walked him into the care facility that is to be his last home, hear on earth, there was not the kind of control that she longed for.

This man is a good professor and I know that I am taking this class for a reason. I trust that I will learn much useful information about learning strategies and how to embed them into my instruction. I hope I will learn ways to help my current undergrad students who are struggling, along with their professor, with the topic of tests and assessment. But, in my life there is a different truth about “control.”

God has brought me to a place in my life where having control is no longer desirable; it is terrifying. The more I learn the more I realize how little I know and how insignificant I am. I want to let go of control and fall into the strong arms of my faithful God. I do not stop grieving over the things in my life that I cannot control. But, I do not want to be in charge. To let go of control is to embrace the freedom of being His precious child.

Job did not try to take control of his suffering despite the unwise counsel of his friends. God’s counsel to Job did not explain the “why” of what had happened but simply reminded him of how powerful is our God. God’s control is enough.

Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation?

Tell Me, if you understand. Who marked off its dimensions?

Surely you know! Who stretched a measuring line across it?

On what were its footings set, or who laid its cornerstone

while the morning stars sang together and all the angels shouted for joy?

Job 38: 4-7

No comments: