We just started a new series at Anthem House called, Fish out of Water. The heart behind the series is to equip and empower our community to better navigate the waters of drama. We've realized drama is not just a middle school nightmare, it's an everyday reality. Adults may not snap their latest drama, but they too have a way of getting their unmet needs met without asking. Avoiding drama is inevitable, which makes knowing how to navigate it, essential.
I'm going to blog my way through the series so you can follow along. I deeply believe in the content we are prayerfully creating. There's just not a lot out there on how to do drama well. Not sure how many posts I will create out of our weekly content but if you're interested, follow along...
Fish out of Water
Ella had a rough end to 8th grade. I've recently felt convicted to stop giving the onslaught of undeserved drama anymore space in our lives, so I will leave out the grueling details of the excessive bullying and social media attacks she endured and focus on the lessons we, as a family have learned
Just last week, at lunch with a new friend, I rehashed some of the details of what it was like to walk my daughter through such intense waters and I realized, to some, it may have appeared I knew what I was doing. From the outside, I sounded somewhat steady, but I will be the first to tell you, navigating those waters were completely new territory to me. I didn't know what to do until the moment I needed to do something. Step by step, I pressed in and trusted what I sensed Holy Spirit leading me to do next. I sought council, trusted in the strength of some amazing friends and mentors and I prayed unceasingly. God knew what He was doing, but I most certainly did not.
I come from a firm belief that our learning is actually solidified in our doing and not just in our knowing. Just because we hear something doesn't mean we've received something. I may have had some ideas of how to deal with middle school drama (I was a middle school pastor for twelve plus years,) but this was my first time parenting my own child through such difficult circumstances and I promise it, it was an entirely different ball game.
The words I kept saying to myself over and over and over again throughout out stint was, "just don't get in the water, just don't get in the water, Kristan, for goodness sakes, just don't get in the water." The words my community repeated to me when I didn't have the strength to say them to myself, "don't get in the water, don't get in the water, don't get in the water." Sometimes I stayed out of the water on my own account and other times my friends literally held me by the arms, keeping me from diving in head first.
All I know is this: standing on solid ground, I seemed to have access to what I needed in the moment. When I needed grace, it was there, when I needed wisdom, she showed up, when I reached for strength and endurance, I always found it. Trust, hope, peace, security, encouragement - it was all present and available- every time I called. I didn't know what I was doing, but I knew I couldn't do what was needed if I was in the water.
Let me explain a little of what I mean...
A fish can't see water. Think about it for a minute. A fish really can't see water. He swims in it all day long and yet is completely unaware it's there. I mean we can see water. It takes on a shape for us, has a color to it. Fills a space. We know when we are drinking it. We also know when we've spilled it. Water is evident to us, but not so to a fish.
Water to a fish is like air to a human. They don't know they are in it, until they are out of it. Likewise, we live unaware our lungs are taking in air until they stop. Out of breath and out of water, suddenly we both, instinctively know what's missing and what's needed to move forward.
Now, take this same approach, only look at it through the lens of drama. If drama is the water, then in the water (drama) I can't possibly see how to best navigate. In the water, the waves of drama have the same effect on me as the people or circumstances causing them. In the water, I can't see the height of the waves, the places they will crash, or the undertow they will cause. In the water, I am forced to spend my energy trying to keep from drowning instead of moving forward. And I end up being nothing more than another person in need of rescue.
Your life will have drama. Whether you are a parent, spouse, brother, sister, coworker, employee, business owner, pastor, friend, family member, social media browser, student or even an innocent bystander, you will see and experience drama unfolding around you. If you jump in the water every time drama enters the scene, you forfeit your perspective and essentially become level with the drama and useless in forward movement.
It's really hard to navigate something you can see
Out of the water, you stand on solid ground with the gift of sight and stability. Out of the water, you are strong, steady and secure. With your feet planted on a firm foundation you will be able to guide and give. I didn't have all the answers as Ella struggled but, I didn't need to. I just stayed out of the water. Out of the water, I could navigate my thirteen year old daughter to safety.
Our brief stint through the waters of middle school drama taught me so much. As a family we now live under a new paradigm - Jesus doesn't do drama. Regardless of what's happening around Him, there was always a non anxious presence within Him. Fully engaged and yet steadily consistent. I'm not saying, Jesus lacked emotion. Throughout Scripture we see Him cry, wrestle with God's plan, face rejection, ask to go a different way. He flipped over the tables in righteous anger and turn the script when the self righteous, Pharisee's tried to stone the woman caught in adultery. Jesus is many things. Emotionless is not one of them. The problem is not our emotions. It's plunging headfirst into the water and losing the ability to navigate our emotions.
The Bible is full of drama.
Adam and Eve get into it over and apple and end up getting kicked out of the garden.
Cain kills Abel and tries to hide it. Noah gets drunk and ends up in bed with family. Joseph's brothers sell him into slavery and tell their dad he was killed by wild animals. Nehemiah tries to rebuild the wall around Jerusalem and restore order, but has to continually come down off his ladder and stop God's people from arguing against one another over finances and order. David sleeps with Bathsheba, gets her pregnant and then moves her husband to the front lines of war so he would be killed and David wouldn't have to face what he had done. When Jesus was born, Mary and Joseph had to go on the run because King Herod issued a decree to kill all boys 2 and under.
And then we met the disciples...
The disciples continually panicked because they found themselves in over their heads. There's a storm and the boat is sinking. Theres a naked man running through the cemetery, cutting himself and screaming gibberish. They can't pray people into healing. There's never enough food. There's always too many people. They fight over who gets to sit next to Jesus. Judas sells Jesus for a few bucks. Peter swears he will never betray Jesus. Jesus is arrested. Peter cuts off the guards ear. Peter betrays Jesus. Jesus is killed and His men scatter.
These people make me feel so normal. How are we so shocked by the drama in our world? This is not something new, drama came into the story in the very beginning. Over and over again people allow themselves to be tossed back and forth by the waves of drama as though the onslaught of crazy took them by surprise. We blame our circumstances. We blame our people. We blame our enemies. We play the game of drama, jumping fully into the water as though we don't have a choice. Drama will come and drama will go, learning how to navigate it well is our best option.
We have to learn to navigate drama, because if we don't, drama will learn to navigate us.
Think about the waters of drama in your life right now. Are you in them? Wrestling with the waves? Being forced down by the current? Or are your feet planted firmly on the ground and your eyes able to clearly see the necessary forward direction? What's reality for you when it comes to crazy and chaos? Does the non-anxious presence of Jesus feel present?
In the past, drama has been something I've run from. Avoiding it at all cost because of the chaos and confusion it brings to my life. But what I've learned is, drama isn't the issue or the answer. Drama is an inamimat object and therefore cannot be something I pivot from. It cannot take the blame for my pain. Over the next few posts I will try to add definition to what drama looks like and what roles we can play in it, but for now, I want to leave you in a space to create awareness. Noticing is always the first step. Notice the waters around you, the temperature within you. Notice your family, your friends, your surroundings. What's happening in the water? Where are you standing? How are you feeling?
Jesus isn't intimidated by your drama. He isn't put off by it either. He lived by it with His closest friends. And He wants to live by it with you. He's your peace that surpasses all understanding. Your rock, your shelter, your wisdom. He has all you need and will navigate you forward, but you've got to get out of the water and steady your feet on His Truth. Stop being controlled by the wind and the waves, and surrender to the Savior. On solid ground, He will lead you forward.