Monday, February 28, 2011

Calm in the Chaos

Minte and I watched a movie together... his long frame stretched out across the end of my bed, me leaning against the headboard with my legs tucked up under me, a cup of tea and my iPad on my lap. I watch things that stress me out now: war movies, "I-shouldn't-be-alive" documentaries, people catching wild hogs, fishing for Alaskan crab, or designing guns. Things my teen and pre-teen boys find interesting. I watch through my fingers or with one eye on a book about something more civilized... but I want to be with them. And watching their "stuff" with them gives us something to talk about and gives me a link into their world. I learned a long time ago that loving people is making what's important to them important to you. Which, in the case of pre-teen and teenaged boys involves things that shoot things, or save people, or explode.

This weekend it was an edited-for-television version of the movie, "The Guardian," about the US Coast Guard. I usually only watch movies where the pretty girl meets the pretty boy and they fall in love in a pretty story and live happily ever after... usually in Italy. This isn't that kind of movie. But I also realize that it came out in 2006, and this is 2011. So chances are you've seen it, and either from that or the movie poster at the left, you know that.

My first thought in this movie was WOW. I had no idea, really, what the Coast Guard involved. I realize this is as real a picture of the USCG as "Top Gun" was of the US Navy, but still. Wow. I have never really given thought to what the Coast Guard is required to do. So, thank you US Coast Guard! I never go in the ocean, and never on a small boat, but if I ever do I'll be so thankful for the USCG if I or anyone I love is ever in need of them. And I'll be thankful if they fish me out and I find myself looking into the face of someone who looks like Kevin Costner or Ashton Kutcher. But, [ahem] that's not the point of this post.

What inspired me to finally bust back onto my blog and post about a 5 year old non-pretty movie was a quote by Kevin Costner's character, Ben Randall, who is a seasoned Senior-something (I don't know my ranks) in the USCG, instructing Ashton Kutcher's character, Jake Fischer at the "A" School for new CG recruits. He tells him:

"The difference between you and the victim is the attitude with which you enter the water. You have to remain calm in the chaos."

And it hit me. That's what parenting teenagers is. That's what parenting a child who comes from hard places (like an adopted child) is.
As parents, we are the Coast Guard. We are helping our kids navigate and survive some difficult waters. Sometimes they get themselves into some choppy situations, or as in the case of some boaters, they are doing what is perfectly appropriate but storms just come upon them. We are the USCG, who flies in, enters their situation with them, gets in the water with them, swims with them... but with a different attitude. One of expertise, one of calm, one who sees the big picture. One with training, who's "been there done that."

What would happen if the Coast Guard swimmer jumped in and started freaking out along with the victim? Started flapping around grabbing at the victim, pulling him under, panicking? Then there would be more casualties. In fact, there is one scene where a husband and wife are drowning and the husband pushes his wife under to get to the basket first, to save himself. Can you imagine being in such a state that you would drown someone you love?

Unfortunately, I am prone to "flapping." I readily admit this! That's why this line in the movie stuck out to me this weekend. I must enter their lives as a calm influence amid the "chaos" of coming from a hard place to a new life across the sea (like my youngest), the teenage years (like my middle son), of graduating and launching into the world of college (like my daughter), ready to swim alongside them or offer them a line up if necessary. Not to flap around and panic about the waves. I have been trained for this. I have! I have a relationship with my Heavenly Father, who tells me all the things I need to know, I have the Holy Spirit living in me, ready to instruct me at any moment (and Whose fruit is self control), I need not panic, either inwardly or outwardly. I am the Coast Guard. I need to jump in, give a "thumbs up" and do what they need me to do.

"Then he rose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm."
Matthew 8:26