Monday, March 22, 2010

What's in a name?

So, we’ve been contributing to this blog since August 2009 and it’s about time we explain what “Rockin’ it Out” is all about…
                  It all goes back to a conversation I was having with one of my good friends/philosophers, Matt Davis.  I honestly don’t remember the details of the conversation, but we were discussing life in general and Davis said to me, “You act like you’ve got more than one life to live……..I’ve only got one and I’m gonna rock this one out!”  I really don’t know why, but that one phrase has stuck with me for years and when thinking about our blog title it quickly came to mind. 
                  It’s not that we think we’re doing something that is SO extreme and unique and crazy with our lives, but we often think about life and how we want to live it (as many people do).  We don’t really have regret with how we’ve lived life thus far, but we knew that we wanted to do something a little less predictable.  I could easily stay and teach physics in the high school that I went to and live in and around Atlanta, where I’ve always lived, but I know that I would be disappointed if I didn’t take a chance to step outside my comfort zone and do something that not everybody does.
                  We recently read the latest book from one of our favorite authors, Donald Miller, entitled A Million Miles in a Thousand Years: What I learned while editing my life.  This book is a non-fiction tale about the interesting conversations and thoughts that came up when a young director approached Miller about making one of his previous books (Blue Like Jazz) into a movie, where the central character would be based on Miller himself.  Here’s an excerpt from the introduction to give you an idea:
     "If you watch a movie about a guy who wanted a Volvo and worked for a year to get it, you wouldn'y cry at the end when he drove off the lot, testing the windshield wipers. You wouldn't tell you friends you saw a beautiful movie or go home and put a record on to think about the story you'd seen. The truth is, you wouldn't remember that movie a week later, except you'd feel robbed and want your money back. Nobody cries at the end of a movie about a guy who wants a Volvo.
     But we spend years actually living those stories, and expect our lives to feel meaningful. The truth is, if what we choose to do with our lives won't make a story meaningful, it won't make a life meaningful either. Here's what I mean by that.................."
                  A central idea of the book is that God has designed us to live good stories that change us.  However, the problem is that we typically resist change from the norm, even if we know that it is needed.  To quote Miller, “Humans are designed to seek comfort and order, and so if they have comfort and order, they tend to plant themselves, even if their comfort is not all that comfortable.  And even if they secretly want for something better.”  As soon as we identify an ambition in life, our story gets more interesting and there is more of a reason to get up in the morning – all at a cost of additional fear in our lives.  Miller argues that our lives seem muddled when we walk around day to day and have no clear idea of what we want.  He also mentions that there will always be resistance to us as we try to live better stories, which is a sure sign that we’re doing what we’re supposed to be doing.  Lastly, he hits on the truth that we are “trees in a story about a forest, and that it is arrogant to think anything differently”.  Furthermore, the “story of the forest is better than the story of the tree.”  I highly recommend this book to anyone, as I believe we all share similar feelings as humans.  I can easily admit that it was really difficult to make the choice to leave all that was comfortable in life in the States to come to the unknown here in Germany.  I had tons of anxiety and fear resisting the move, but at the same time I had a much stronger pull from the Holy Spirit that compelled me to go through with it.  I knew that I would not regret it, and while life still has its challenges here and we greatly miss family and friends back home, we have had a peace about living here that lets us know that we’re doing the right thing.  After all, our story is a small part of the bigger story and we are excited to see where it goes.
                  So, “Rockin’ it Out……’til rockin’ it out goes wrong” is sort of a life statement that we want to try to do the best with what we have in this life and, to use the old sports adage “leave it all on the field”.  As Davis mentioned, we’ve only got one life to live and we want to enjoy it.  By that we certainly don’t mean the shallow sense of partying hard and living without responsibility, but in a sense that God has made us for a purpose and we want to be constantly striving to be used by Him for that purpose and follow His greatest commandments:  “love God and love people”.
                  At the moment, we both have a passion for education and we think that we would like to work with an organization that builds schools in countries that don’t have them.  This desire largely came from the story of Greg Mortenson, author of Three Cups of Tea, whom we heard speak at the Carter Center in Atlanta back in 2005.  He has committed his life to building schools in rural regions of Afghanistan and Pakistan with the mission of “fighting terrorism one school at a time”.  We’ve also been inspired by John Woods’ Leaving Microsoft to Change the World, which is the story of another non-profit organization, Room to Read, which also builds schools, libraries, and computer labs in developing countries such as Nepal and Vietnam.  We’re not sure where our story will actually take us, but keeping an ambition like that in the back of our minds definitely helps to keep us going.  One of the main reasons that we decided to seek out international work was to see how we would handle living abroad and to network and meet other people who may also have similar ambitions.  I know that Germany is a far cry from a place that is in need of schools being built, but we had to start somewhere.  God may end up doing something totally different with us, but we at least feel that we’re on the path.
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