Adulting is hard. I want to get that out of the way because yesterday afternoon after work I went to the seminars and Bible Study that opened this year’s Northwest Family Weekend , and although there was not a clear thematic connection, most of them dealt with different aspects of what makes adulting a particularly unpleasant task. I am aware that not everyone may know what adulting is, so perhaps it would be worthwhile to explain that first before I get too carried away with the specific contents of the seminar and Bible study themselves. Adulting is doing what is required to live a successful adult life. Included in this is communication, emotional regulation, working in mundane and generally unrewarding jobs in the “new economy,” paying the bills, and struggling with what often seems like a pointless and unhappy life. The seminars and Bible study, perhaps even without conscious intent, all dealt with these matters in remarkable ways and I thought it would be worthwhile to share my own impressions with others. With that said, let us begin.
The first seminar was given by a woman from our local congregation who works as an occupational therapist for kids, especially those with sensory disorder. Her talk, which was immensely practical, focused on the ways that we as adults can better control our own personal energy flow through focused strategies on how to calm ourselves from elevated states and rouse ourselves from laziness and torpor and keep in a balanced and well-regulated state of equilibrium where we are working at our best. The seminar included being handed a tennis ball and doing various exercises to test our own personal state of energy and commented on the various sensory inputs, and also the way that people keep themselves out of crisis mood and how a great deal of “low” energy comes from adrenal fatigue, something I know I struggle with myself from time to time. It was an excellent presentation, and one that capitalized on the author’s extensive knowledge and her awareness of the tells that show that people are adopting various strategies in order to try to calm themselves in stressful situations, like going to church or dealing with the ambiguities and complexities of communication, something that causes me a great deal of personal difficulty and distress in life, and apparently a lot of other people as well.
After a short break there was another talk, this time from a somewhat stern former owner of a landscaping company who now is a full-time paid minister for our church in another congregation in the Pacific Northwest. His title, which he had apparently not chosen for himself, was what employers want and need. If one wants to know why adulting is often such an unpleasant experience, this seminar was a good discussion of the reasons why, in that it focused on the ten most important soft-skills that employers are looking for from their workers: strong work ethic, dependability, positive attitude, self-motivation, team-orientation, organization, capability to work well under pressure, communication skills, flexibility, and confidence (without pride or arrogance). The author went through a lot of Bible scriptures in the attempt to connect what employers want from us with what God wants, most of them consisting of certain biased interpretations of scriptures in Proverbs and the book of Luke and a few other places. Nevertheless, what struck me as the most intriguing aspect of this particular seminar was the author’s combination of a certain degree of disdain for the ambitions of others with a certain lack of connection with his intended audience. When one is seeking to give unpleasant and often unwelcome advice, as this seminar most definitely was, one has to do so in a way that the audience feels that the speaker is one of them, and has a certain empathy with them. That was lacking here, and that is something this speaker could work on in the future if he desires a happy and worthwhile career as a minister.
This leads into the next seminar, which was a discussion on the timeline of the literary prophets of the Old Testament from the pastor of our local congregation. Besides the annoyance of being singled out as the know-it-all and general person being willing to speak out when no one else is, this talk also dealt with the issue of the results of the prophetic ministry of the prophets discussed from Elijah to Malachi. The speaker rather thoughtfully commented that it is difficult for ministers to know how effective they are because even if their overall careers are lengthy their own service of particular congregations is somewhat brief and they do not see the results of their ministry in the lives of those they have served. I was pleased to listen to someone else vocalize this concern about the fruits of one’s labors and efforts, something that I spend a great deal of time reflecting upon myself with regards to my own works. At any rate, this talk was largely a survey of various OT prophets, looking at their lives, their family and personal backgrounds, the themes of their messages, and the fruits of their efforts in the behaviors of their countrymen. There was also the reminder that God does not act without providing some warning to a wicked society facing judgment and whether or not that society repents, God’s people have always had the responsibility to rebuke the corrupt society around them through our example as well as, occasionally, through our writing and speaking. Perhaps I identify a bit too much with the sternness of the OT prophet myself for my own comfort and well-being.
After a break where I enjoyed a pleasant dinner, we had a Bible study from the pastor of a neighboring local congregation who again singled me out as a general know-it-all concerning his topic of keys to remembering the scriptures, teasing me about my own memory. The topic was a worthwhile one, as many people among my own circle of brethren wish to know the Bible better, and the tips provided were quite practical, including the use of chain referencing, looking up, writing biographies of Bible personages, and repetition of verses one wants to remember built on a foundation of consistent Bible reading. I had the opportunity to share my own thoughts and discussions for my own personal techniques like writing Bible Studies with the speaker after the Bible Study before joining a group of people to sing hymns for an hour and a half and then chat a bit more before going home at last to go to sleep. Adulting is by no means always an enjoyable process, but whatever our age presents us with is a responsibility to be undertaken as best as possible, even when there is little joy in it sometimes. What can be celebrated and enjoyed, especially that which has no lasting negative repercussions, is something that should be appreciated.
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