The Power of Two Letters

One of the most powerful words in the English language is ‘no’. Two simple letters that pack a huge punch.

Be it an overloaded calendar, an unruly or inappropriate co-worker, a toxic relationship or activity, an adult child or friend that has over-extended his need for money; if we are still above ground and breathing we have a choice.

So…no.

No to those things that steal my time and joy. No to over-commitments that add nothing to my life or those precious ones around me. No to jobs that suck out my heart and soul and mind. No to conversations that give me a panic attack. No to lies that attack my mind and soul. No to immoral, profane and horror-filled shows that fill my nights with dread. No to dead ends, no matter how peer-pressured I feel to pursue them.

There are way too many ‘yes moments’ to live consumed with guilt because we didn’t say no to something.

So…yes.

Yes to thoughtful and mind-provoking discourse. Yes to relationships that encourage and lift up. Yes to shows that have a wholesome message and inspiring ending. Yes to a thought-life filled with positive and inspiring truths. Yes to people that need help and utilize it to make a positive change. Yes to church. Yes to a life filled with the wonder of the supernatural, living God and His Son, Jesus Christ. Yes to hope. Yes to life. Yes to joy. Yes, yes, yes!

Exercising the ‘no’ muscle is often painful, but the benefits can be endless and eternal.

Think about it.

Crimestalkers of the Lowcountry

On some kind of mission to validate my obsession with cop shows and crime thrillers, I jumped at the chance to attend an eight-week ‘Citizen’s Police Academy’ put on by the Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office.

I figured, yeah, I’d be one of about five people there.

When I got there at six on the dot, all seats were taken in a room that held about 40 people! The uniformed instructor noticed my wide-eyed hesitation and motioned me to the front. He pulled a chair out of thin air and shoved it at me. I sat.

The class lasts from 6-9 p.m. and there’s a break in between. During the breakbadge.jpg I noticed not one person under 50, and most were over 65. So far we’ve covered Civil Process, Environmental Crimes, Training & Firearms Simulator. Also Domestic Violence, Juvenile Services and Crime Scene Investigation . . . and everyone’s favorite grisly thrill: Forensics.

I just want you to know that personally, I felt a tingle when standing within four inches of actual bloody clothes from a local crime hanging in the Sheriff’s Office investigative forensics area in their nifty little blood-drying machine. Did you know a haze of superglue whooshed onto a surface will reveal perfect fingerprints? No? Did you know that DNA evidence takes up to six months to process, and if it’s a complex murder and a rush is put on it, six weeks is pretty standard?

Well, now you and I both know. The crime shows lie to us. Crimes are NOT wrapped up in a box and tied with a bow by the end of one hour. I was told ‘The First 48’ is an accurate depiction of what actually happens, so I’ve added that show to my list. It’s a wonder I can even sleep at night.

I’ve met investigators (one looks and acts just like Donnie Wahlberg, who plays Danny on Blue Bloods, honest to God) and Lieutenant Colonels and School Resource Officers, Deputy Sheriffs and Sergeants and more.  One of our instructors was Lieutenant Colonel Baxley, who commandeered the massive emergency effort for the most devastating hurricane to hit Hilton Head Island in fifty years – Hurricane Matthew. I wanted to hug him.

It’s made me wonder if I missed my calling. Visions of ‘Rizzoli and Isles’ or ‘Law and Order’ or ‘Criminal Minds’ roll through my head, only I’m the investigator catching all the bad guys.

I’m still a little dazed by the senior citizen preoccupation with this class. What is it that draws people to this stuff like flies to honey? Is it the fascination with the psychopathy of the serial killer? Is it the fight for justice? Is it our deep, overriding desire to see wrongs in our own life fought for and corrected? Is it a hankering to figure out the mystery of a crime?

Well, okay, it’s probably because we are all retired, but still . . .

For me, I wanted to get scenes right in my books, but it’s become more than that. It’s filling some unsatiated desire of mine lurking in the background. It energizes me, empowers me. Is this weird?

One thing for sure, l feel privileged after listening to several of Beaufort County’s brightest and best teach a topic and spend time answering question after question. These men and women put their lives on the line every day, 24/7. I’m grateful they took time out of their hectic, stressful schedules to participate in the Citizen’s Academy.

Next week we learn about Professional Responsibility and Civilian Response to Active Shooter Events. (Insert wide-eyed emoji here.) And as a happy bonus, on Saturday we are all headed to Beaufort to the pistol range to get a tour, watch Special Ops in action and partake of some target practice.

Graduation is October 16, and Sheriff Tanner will present us with certificates. After graduation, we have the option to sign up for a ride-along with a patrol officer!

Be still my heart.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Blurry Line

 

There are only two kinds of people in the end: those who say to God, “Thy will be done,” and those to whom God says, “Your will be done.”  C.S. Lewis, The Great Divorce

Now the trouble about trying to make yourself stupider than you really are is that you very often succeed.  C.S. Lewis, The Magician’s Nephew

 

Bit by bit, ‘control’ is being wrenched from my cold, stiff fingers.

For years, I figured taking the lead was a necessary evil, especially if someone else (i.e. spouse or adult kids or people I considered irresponsible in general) dropped the ball. My goodness, if a ball is dropped, shouldn’t I pick it up and run with it?

Not always.

There’s a line. I haven’t been able to decipher it very well, or sometimes at all  . . . but God’s been trying to get into my thick head where that line is. It’s a moving target, let me tell you.

For instance, where is the line between teaching my (grown) kids what to do and trying to control them?

Where is the line between accomplishing my daily agenda and holding it loosely in case God has other plans?

Where is the line when a spouse attempts something I know in my heart will fail? Do I take control of the situation? (Not unless I want World War III to erupt, just sayin’.)

What gives me the right to think I know so much better than everyone else, anyway?

And that’s the point. I don’t.

I don’t know when God has his hands on someone else and He might allow a failure to teach them something. If I intervene, well, guess what? I slow down that process. I become a stumbling block.

When one of my grown kids has the temerity of soul to share a goal with their opinionated and strong-willed mom, do I criticize in a good-hearted but wrong-headed attempt to correct, or is it my selfish need to prove that I know better than they do?

Often I don’t. And that’s the point.

At this stage, my kids need less parenting and more friending. A few suggestions here and there, but more ‘attaboys’ and ‘way to go’s’ than exacting directives. Unless they ask, and then, of course, I’m a wellspring of knowledge.

Recently I had a situation with one of my kids that kind of punched me in the face. He thought I meant no, when really, I meant ‘let me teach you’. He thought I was controlling him, when I thought I was helping. He thought he was being independent and strong, and I thought he was, at the very least, being rude.

A Mexican standoff.

And guess what? He won. I scored a few points, but at what cost? It is futile to try to control another person, and perhaps I was.

As mentioned before, the line is a moving target. There are times a kid needs direction. Not control, direction. The line gets blurry. That’s when prayer helps point me in the right direction. And the right direction in this situation was to back off.

I can’t prevent someone else’s pain. I can’t prevent someone else’s failure. I can’t prevent someone else’s drive to accomplish whatever it is, even if I see them falling off a cliff. I can try to prevent it, but, again, I don’t know the whole story. God may have other plans and often I just need to get out of the way.

Let go.

Step aside.

Extend grace and generosity.

Be available if they need help, but don’t assume they need it if they don’t ask.

Trust God.

And finally, the point of all points: God has control of EVERY situation and I don’t.