Saturday, October 18, 2014

A Rooster Crowed in Physics

Something pretty cool happened in  my physics class last week.

"Write your name down on a piece of paper," Professor M. instructed. The class grumbled. "Don't worry, I'm not making you take a quiz." He slyly smiled. "I want you to answer this: Where do you get your freedom from?"

From where do I get my freedom? I thought this was physics class, not history. Some students quickly scratched down an answer, while others sat thinking.

Well, God gives us our free-will...but I'm pretty sure that's not what he's looking for. Okay mind, pull up those files from government class...I know this is in some founding document. Let's just go with the Bill of Rights since the Amendments gives us all those rights. That should cover it. I should still mention free-will though, because we still have the freedom to break laws and ignore the rights of others.

"We have natural freedom because of free-will. Much of our freedom and rights were established in the Bill of Rights."

Yeah, I'll agree that it was a pretty lousy response. But my brain was on frictional forces, not founding fathers.

He collected and silently reviewed our responses while we went back to physics problems. At the end of class he said, "Just as I suspected--a typical class. Many of you said that the soldiers give us our freedom, or the government. The government can't give you any freedom--if anything they take it away! So where do we get our freedom from?" he asked again.

"As written in the Declaration of Independence: 'We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.'" He recited with eloquence.

Then my physics professor said, "You get your freedom from GOD."

The room was silent.

The student to my left shifted in his chair and began to rapidly tap his finger on his notebook before challenging, "What if you don't believe in God?"

Professor smiled, "He gives you that freedom to not believe in Him."

The agitated student then pointedly asked, "Which god?"

To which my professor firmly replied, "THE God."

All the while I sat in my chair beaming with admiration. His answer was so unexpected and refreshing, especially in today's society where God is pushed out of the public place, particularly from schools.

We no longer recite our Pledge of Allegiance to the flag of this nation united as one under God. "In God We Trust" is no longer on the face of the dollar coin, but on the edge. This clearly makes the statement that soon He will be pushed right off the edge. There are countless stories of students being reprimanded for even saying "God bless you" when someone sneezes, or for praying before their lunch. Coaches are getting suspended for encouraging prayer before games...the list goes on and on.

I see it in myself. As I walked down the hall after class, I reflected on my answer. Why did I not write down my original thought? Evidently, I too have fallen for the "God doesn't belong in school" mantra. This upsets me. What was I afraid of? Government? The school? A scoff? ...I was fearing these things above God.
56 And a servant-girl, seeing him as he sat in the firelight and looking intently at him, said, “This man was with Him too.” 57 But he denied it, saying, “Woman, I do not know Him.” 58 A little later, another saw him and said, “You are one of them too!” But Peter said, “Man, I am not!” 59 After about an hour had passed, another man began to insist, saying, “Certainly this man also was with Him, for he is a Galilean too.” 60 But Peter said, “Man, I do not know what you are talking about.” Immediately, while he was still speaking, a rooster crowed. 61 The Lord turned and looked at Peter. And Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how He had told him, Before a rooster crows today, you will deny Me three times.”
That's right. I, the one who refers to herself as the "transformed rebel," is more like a "conformed coward." It's not even like I live in the Middle East where I, like Peter, could be facing death for acknowledging Him. Here I have the First Amendment right to freely speak and practice my religion; a right that I should be exercising regardless if it is given by the government or not. An unalienable right that I should be exercising because it is a freedom given to me by God.


Monday, October 6, 2014

Go Fail at Something (I mean this in the most encouraging way.)

There are two very important lessons in martial arts that a student is taught from day one. The first is to keep your guard up. The second is how to fall. These are not just basic and practical lessons for safety, but valuable lessons for life.

Always be prepared. How did I learn to keep my guard up? I was punched in the face. repeatedly. After feeling your brain rattle in your head a few times (more like a few hundred), your hands will learn to stay in front of your face. But the thing is, if I hadn't taken so many head shots, my guard would still be down protecting my stomach- which only prepares me for a battle with an angry eight year old, an elf, and maybe a disgruntled hobbit.

We all have to keep our guards up and be prepared in life. Yes, it's okay to "let your guard down" around certain people. You don't need to constantly be on the defense at every waking moment, walking around looking like the Fighting Irish. Just be able to defend yourself. In sparring, an opponent may occasionally (for whatever reason) throw a kick or technique that could not possibly reach you (I'm guilty of it too). Do you need to block that kick? No, let the person waste their energy, and spend your energy on defending something that is an actual threat.

However, the only way we can ever be truly prepared for anything, is if we're knocked up-side the head when we are not prepared. This could be a poor grade on a test, not having paperwork ready for a meeting, being late, or writing a blog post moments before the deadline. My Worst Blog Post Ever two weeks ago was definitely an example of dropping my guard. I was not prepared and "hit in the face" at the last minute with writer's block. However, I learned something about myself and how to break through that block. Plus, that post, which I was hoping no one would see, has become one of my most-viewed in a single week posts! I even received feedback from a big-time writing blogger.

Learning how to fall.

Learning how to fall is a scary thing. Stand up. Now jump to the floor. Okay, we don't quite start there. We start on our knees. Exhaling keeps your diaphragm from collapsing. Practicing to land "finger-tips to elbows" overcomes the instinct of reaching for the ground, which results in broken wrists. We turn our heads to look behind us to protect our face (and perhaps see an attacker). After getting the wind knocked out of me, bruises, and a fractured wrist (snowboarding...attempt), I eventually learned how to fall. It was a great feeling when I tripped on the stairs and naturally caught myself correctly. Falling has become second nature.

We learn to how to fall so that we don't injure ourselves and become unable to get back up. Falling isn't a bad thing. It is okay to fall; it is not okay to stay down. If I never fell from a kneeling position, I would be a lot more fearful of falling from a standing position.

Knowing how to fall is freeing. I'm less afraid because I know that if I fall- it's not the end. I know that I can get back up. This allows me to be more bold in taking risks (as long as I take that risk with my guard up.)

I know this is nothing new or exciting. We all know that life is full of falling and failure. But I also know that we all need to be reminded of that sometimes.

So this may perhaps seem like a very de-motivational post...but go fall down today. (Figuratively speaking. Unless you do know how to break-fall...I'm not suggesting that you intentionally go physically throw yourself to the ground. You might concern some people or break something.)

Go fight something you've been fearing.
Be prepared. Keep your guard up.
If you fail- good!

 Just get back up with the wisdom to now avoid whatever made you fall.
As my sensei, Mr. Rehn, would tell us, "Seven times down, eight time up."

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