Thursday, March 2, 2017

Let's Ride a ROLLER COASTER!! (Part 4 of 4)

I can assure you this is not going where you might have thought it would...bear with me here... I'm going to take you on a roller coaster ride.

From the time my kids were probably about 7 and 5 we got annual passes to an amusement park that was a couple of hours from our house (Silver Dollar City).

There was a ride at that park called "Fire in the Hole". It wasn't a roller coaster as much as it was "just" a fun ride. (The link takes you to a youtube video of the whole thing!) Spoiler alert, I'm about to tell you all the "thrilling" parts of the ride.... There's a part where it looks like you are going to be hit by a train, but the tracks have burned out so you plummet down, you get "shot" at, and then they yell "FIRE IN THE HOLE" and you zoom down and around the tracks in the dark! Toward the end a Hillbilly up above you says "Here's a barrel of laughs for ya!" and it looks like you are going to get doused with water. It makes you look up so your picture could be taken with a look of surprise on your face (they don't do that anymore, the ride has lost the element of surprise for most people). This ride was the family favorite for quite a while. It was the first one we'd get on when we got there and it was always the last ride we'd go on before heading home.

But then one summer thy advertised the new new roller coaster that would be ready the next year (Wildfire). All three of us were very excited to ride it. We waited all winter and showed up on opening day going straight to THAT RIDE. There was one problem. My daughter was about 2 (maybe 3) inches too short. Being the excellent parent I was at the time, I let her wear my shoes which gave her the extra height she needed. I didn't want her to miss out. But, the safety police saw through the plan and wouldn't let her ride. Being the stellar parent I was, we let her wait while we rode it!! Poor kid. The following year she was big enough and a new family favorite was born. We loved that ride. But the starter and ender of our day at the park stayed Fire in the Hole.

Until a few years ago, I LOVED roller coasters. I loved waiting in line-anticipating the ride is a BIG part of the fun. I loved getting in the very front or the very back (the middle was only if the lines were WAY too long for the front or back, but it was a last resort type option). I loved the feeling of being strapped in. And then every part of the ride had things to love. The clickty-clack of going up, up, up...slowly building the tension to be released at lightning speed. I loved the coasters that have sudden changes in direction with loopty-loops and high speed. I especially loved the ones where your legs are dangling down.

Until I didn't.

I don't know exactly what happened. Maybe it was just a matter of getting older-my body can't take those things like it used to. Maybe it was the sudden realization that they really are scary to be on.

When we are little we are taught what is scary. When I was in my final year of college I was pregnant with my daughter (my youngest). I had intended to go on to get a Masters in Social Work. I did a lot of research into studies of working mothers and the impact on kids. One study talked about how much influence a mother's feelings have on their children. They had a crawling baby on one side of a glass bridge and the mother on the other. When the baby would start to crawl across the mother would either smile and look happy or she would look scared. The babies who were given encouraging looks had NO FEAR of crawling across. The other babies had fear. This fear would transfer and generalize out to other tasks. (There is a reason they don't allow these kinds of studies anymore!)

Funny, as I was looking for videos for this post I found this little gem

I love the kid at the end..."do you want to go again?" "No."

These parents are teaching their children-there's nothing to be afraid of here. ("Put your hands in the air!!") ...for the record I almost couldn't watch this video. The one baby looks like he's going to fall out of the seat-that bar is not even remotely holding him in!!!

Remember the pressure cooker? When kids are subjected to high stress when they are little, they are pretty much growing up in a pressure cooker. (This stress can be any number of things from benign types of things such as moving several times all the way to more traumatic things such as physical, mental or sexual abuse. The body becomes MUCH more adept at triggering the stress reaction in the body. It's the opposite of what happens on the outside, or what you might think. You might think that high stress in youth would create a resilience to it. Or would desensitize the child so that it would take much higher levels of stress to create a reaction. But from all I've been reading, that is not in fact the case. (Google it if you are interested, there are WAY too many resources to link even a fraction of them.)

My kids and I could recite every line and knew every move of Fire in the Hole. Just writing this has triggered the feelings I had on that ride with my kids year after year. You might say the ride imprinted reflexive emotions and reactions that are deep within my body.

There are numerous theories on why some people get autoimmune diseases and some don't. Childhood illnesses, gut permeability and dysbiosis, being born via C-section, frequent and repeated use of antibiotics, toxins...the list is long. I think this is why most medical doctors simply treat the symptoms (called "downstream treatment"). There are pills that can solve almost any symptom out there. But the disease is still there (upstream from the symptoms). One theory is the early introduction and "inoculation" of stress causes an imbalance in the immune system. I don't want to get too technical here (and I can't, I'm not a doctor) but suffice it to say the system needs to be in balance to work properly.

The biggest two parts of a roller coaster are the tracks and the cart, or whatever attaches the person to the track. Well, I guess there's really a third...the operator. Some (most) roller coasters are automated. It's not like a train where there's a conductor that has control. The operator just starts and stops the ride. If everyone isn't strapped in properly, the operator won't push the magic green button.

I could take this in any number of directions at this point. This is one reason I love analogies. You can use them in so many different ways.

Are you strapped in??

Clickty-clack, clickty-clack....

When I was little I went to church with my step sister. I remember being there one Sunday night hearing about how I was going to hell if I didn't go up right then and get dunked in the saving baptismal water. I knew I didn't want any part of this place called hell. I knew how bad things were at home and I had every reason to believe hell would be like falling out of the frying pan into the fire (pun intended). So I jumped up and walked down the aisle. I was promptly dunked and sent home. I remember thinking the whole way back how excited I was to be protected by my new Father. I had been washed white as snow and was a child of the King. I could walk through fire and not be burned.

But when I got home, all hell broke lose. It's a long story but suffice it to say things did not change for me. I remember going to school the next morning and thinking "everything looks EXACTLY THE SAME".

Remember the oven? Well, this is when the bathtub would have been a better visual, so I'm going to switch back now. I trust you get the idea well enough to stay with me here.

Being washed by the blood of Christ has nothing to do with externals. It has to do with the heart. There is no part of that washing that we have any control over and no part that requires WORK on our part. We can clean and clean the outside, but it's the heart that really matters.

When we are on a roller coaster, we have no control over where that thing is going to go. We have no control over the speed. The cart is going to (hopefully) go where the tracks take it. The operator is just pushing a button but he's really not in control.

Who's in control?? The designer. The one who built the coaster. That person made decisions YEARS before you got on this ride. That person engineered the ride to do certain things in certain ways. When we get on that ride, our trust is not on the tracks, or the cart or the operator. Our trust is in the DESIGNER and the BUILDER.

My life has been a roller coaster. Lately it's been a lot more scary. I think it's been particularly difficult for Dwayne. He never knows what wife he's waking up to or coming home to at the end of the day. That man knows my every mood by the way I BREATHE. He has had whiplash almost daily the last 18 months. I may have grown up in a pressure cooker. My outside may not be as clean as I'd like. But I (we) trust the designer of this ride. I (we) have faith in the engineer. So we'll throw our hands up and enjoy every minute.

...I warned you this was not going where you thought, I gave you plenty of hints it would take many twists and turns and change directions abruptly, but you hopped on this ride anyway...

Thank you for stopping by and sticking around. The usual running commentary will resume as soon as everyone steps off the ride. :D

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