Tuesday, July 27, 2010

How to Fix the World

So I just got back from a week long trip to Orlando...and it was exhausting! We took 1 day and tried to do just about everything the Magic Kingdom had to offer. We spent 14 hours straight in the park. From 9am to 11pm. With our 5 year old daughter Brooke going strong with no meltdowns all day. It was quite impressive.

I took notes from situations I noticed in the park. I hope to share some with you.

How to Fix the World

My wife, mother, daughter, brother and I were in the line for the ride "It's a Small World" for about 40 minutes.

About 50% of the line

We were snaking and weaving through the line along with a thousand others for our turn at a 10 minute boat ride amongst decades old animatronic dolls singing one of the most haunting songs in existence. We made it to the front of the line, get in position to be the next group into the boat...and disaster strikes.

The boats got stuck.

There were no sirens, none of the workers really said anything. You just started to notice that the line stopped moving. And if you looked backwards down the river a bit where full boats come up to unload their passengers you noticed a boat that was stuck in the water and holding up the show.

Within 5 minutes of this disaster several things happened:

  • The ride operator called up to the ride supervisor to report the problem
  • The ride supervisor called ride maintenance to fix the problem
  • Ride maintenance came and fixed the problem in a matter of seconds of being on site
  • About a thousand people in line cheered
  • The ride went right back to normal as if nothing had happened at all
While witnessing this, I couldn't help but think of several metaphors wrapped up in this simple event.

Surely we've all had times where we're just going through lives as normal, everything is fantastic...but all of a sudden our boat gets stuck. Maybe we hit a rough patch in our marriage, have trouble raising our children, you realize you're not satisfied with your job, maybe you lose your job completely. Whatever it is in your life that throws it out of whack, that's your boat getting stuck.

And you know the feeling, you feel trapped. The people in the boat realized the situation was out of their control. Sure they could have seized control by getting out of the boat and wading through the water...but that wouldn't have been the best thing to do. They had to wait. They hoped that someone with more information and knowledge than they had would be able to fix the problem. Fortunately, they were right. And there were steps to solve the problem already lined out and in motion.

1) Admit when you are in over your head

The ride operator knew they didn't have the expertise to solve the problem (come on, they're just hitting a button and telling people to not fall off the boat) so they passed it up the chain of command to their supervisor. Likewise, the supervisor knew enough to realize it was beyond their realm of training so maintenance was called in.

Maybe for you it's recognizing that you're not superman, despite your best efforts. You really can't tackle that 8 man project alone, or you can tell due to your child's crazy fits at the drop of a hat that perhaps your parenting style is a bit off. We seem to have such a huge amount of shame attached to the realization that we can't do everything. I think this is such a bad cycle to get into. Realize that sometimes you just need help doing what you can't do alone.

2) Have the right people in place to solve problems

To be honest, it's pretty impressive to watch the right people solve a problem. 

The two maintenance men swooped in and knew exactly what to do. One went down to the main floor to check for anything blocking the path, the other was in the control booth dealing with the control boards. They were in the room and gone within 60 seconds.

We see maintenance men like this in all kinds of areas of our lives, we know who to call for little problems in our lives...but we tend to think we can solve the big ones. We seem so afraid to consult parenting books, see professional counselors, be honest with our struggles to our friends who have been through similar situations. We have these 'maintenance men' in our lives (or at least we can rent them if they're professionals!) we should use them so we're not stuck scratching our heads all the time on how to solve our unsolvable problems.

3) Solve the problem fast, get the recognition...

Or give the recognition, as the case may be. The maintenance men who fixed the ride didn't stop and take a bow. They did their job professionally, quickly and left. While they were leaving the crowd cheered them off. Not because they were prompted, but because they were legitimately grateful.

If you're solving a problem, you need to leave the person you were helping legitimately grateful for your assistance. And if you're being helped, surely you should properly show your appreciation for the assistance. 

People don't necessarily want a fanfare...but recognition doesn't hurt. Letting someone know who much you do appreciate them goes a long way.

4) Move on

Once the maintenance men left, the ride went back to operating normally. I think so often as we deal with our problems in life, we never allow ourselves to get to this point.

The boat is back on track, it's moving through the water and we are stubbornly refusing to move along with it. We live in the realm of when things were broken, not when they were fixed.

I see this so true in my life, especially spiritually. I often find myself replaying my own failures and shortcomings over again in my mind...despite God's promises in Jesus that he has taken care of all that! What better way to guarantee that we'll never continue through the ride than if we convince ourselves our boat is broken.

And how sad is it when we don't realize it has been fixed. That all of this brokenness, shame, anger, frustration is completely unnecessary. It may have held a purpose at one point, but that's over. We don't need to live in it. We need to get back on the ride and allow it to move us forward. There is no purpose in repairing the boat if the riders refuse to believe it's repaired.