Hello, God. Welcome to My Classroom


I Haven’t Written Anything Lately

Posted in A Class Act by Linden Barrick on October 7, 2013
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I have not posted on my blog for one month. The words haven’t been flowing, or maybe I’m swallowing them along with all the emotions I’m attempting to hide. My emotions have been so raw lately, blood might ooze onto the page with every keystroke. An illness in the family, surgeries, hospitalization, and more surgery to come, and yet my life keeps moving on, day by day, while I don’t write.

My family is far away. The majority of my family members live in Missouri; I’m in Virginia. Being many states away makes it difficult when I know I could help if I lived closer. Helplessness, sadness, and guilt become braided together tightly enough to create a noose, strangling me and making me unproductive.

I have been alternating between bouts of intense prayer, times of fighting the liquid emotions that flow freely at inopportune times, and periods of numbness. Happy moments seem faded, but welcome, like an old pair of tennis shoes that had been drying in the sun.

News from Missouri has become more positive of late. Thank you, God. Hope continues to grow, and my numbness is starting to wane. So for today, a few words flow from my fingertips without too many emotions welling over.

No, I haven’t written anything lately. But prayer is powerful.

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Liquid Emotions are Genetic

Posted in A Class Act by Linden Barrick on November 12, 2012
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Do you have liquid emotions? I most certainly do. Overwhelming sadness? I cry. Mad and indignant? The tears flow. Frustrated beyond belief? The dam opens. Laughing hysterically? Yep, even then.

There’s absolutely nothing I can do to prevent the tears. They have caused me embarrassment, frustration, and even horror, but still they flow. I’m not sure why I’m made this way, but I do know I inherited this trait honestly from my mom. During my childhood, I can recall seeing her crying in response to television commercials. I thought she was a mess, but now I’m a mess too.

Years ago, I watched Steel Magnolias and was able to relate to the comment made my Dolly Parton’s character. Truvy said, “Laughter through tears is my favorite emotion.” Well, I’m not sure it’s my favorite, but it is probably one of my most frequent.

Currently, I’m reading Chasing Fireflies by Charles Martin with my students. This is the fourth year I’ve read it in class after reading it once for pleasure and once to make sure it was appropriate for my students. Altogether, I’ve probably read it at least a dozen times. It’s one of my all-time favorite novels, and I recommend it highly. One of the characters, Uncle Willee, cries freely. His emotions are definitely liquid, and for one abused little boy, Unc’s tears are the first time he’s ever seen a grown man cry. That boy has trouble accepting Unc’s tears as a positive thing when his own make him feel like a weakling.

Yesterday, Colton stayed with friends while I went ice skating with the high school students from the youth group. At one point, he misbehaved by being unkind to his friend, and he cried when reprimanded. To some people this seems absurd, but to those of us with liquid emotions, it is very familiar.

At the dinner table as he and I discussed what had happened and what his consequences would be, his eyes flooded again. When I asked why he was crying, his chin quivered. “Because I hurt my friend.”

Cynics would say he’s merely upset because of the consequences. I would also be skeptical except I’ve seen the same young boy tear up and try to hide his emotions many times. When watching a movie that touches his heart, usually because an animal gets badly hurt or is treated cruelly, he just can’t help himself.

I’m sure it’s difficult for him to reconcile his tears with his need to feel like a “man”. I want him to be brave and strong, but I also admire his kind-hearted response to life. I’m not sure how to foster one of those traits without compromising the other.

What I am certain of, whether good or bad, is he gets his liquid emotions from me.

And I Repeat…Change IS Good

Posted in A Class Act by Linden Barrick on September 4, 2012
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Last week, I wrote about changes taking place in my life. And like He does so often, God created a situation to let me know I was slightly off track.

Sunday morning in church, our worship leader challenged us by asking if our lives have changed since we accepted Jesus as our Savior. Then Pastor Tag gave a stirring message about growth in our spiritual life. Growing is an ideal way to change, don’t you think? I kept reflecting back to my post from last week and came to the conclusion I had been somewhat shallow in my thinking.

All of the changes happening in my life right now matter. They really do. Everyday milestones and events that alter our lives make a difference.

But the inner changes, changes which eventually become visible to others, are the most important.

Do you have aspects of your spiritual life you’d like to change? I do, and I have for a long time. A few years ago in January, the KLove radio announcers focused on choosing a word to live by during the upcoming year. I remember selecting “change” as my word. I had a list of things I’d like to change, a list longer than my usual grocery list. Have I succeeded in making those changes? Not even close. There have been some shifts in my actions and thoughts, but not the dramatic changes I planned.

Some of the changes I wrote about last week were sad or painful. Inner change will also be painful, especially if it manifests itself to others and they begin to treat you differently. In the grand scheme of eternity in Heaven, that’s good news, but it can be painful on earth when you are no longer part of the crowd. It’s human nature to want to belong, but sometimes when you change for the Lord, belonging in the world is a sacrifice you have to make.

Do you no longer get invitations to socialize with your colleagues? Good!

Do you feel left out when some friends and acquaintances are all discussing the #1 best-selling novel, but you don’t feel it’s appropriate to read? Great!

If someone tells an off-color joke, do they immediately apologize to you while laughing with everyone else? Fantastic!

All of those situations confirm that people understand you are different, or changed, because of your spiritual life. Sometimes it’s a challenge to accept these situations as positive. But Tag reminded me that love is about commitment, not about emotions. Being left out might make us feel sorry for ourselves, but we must ignore those feelings and instead focus on the commitment in our hearts.

Have you faced situations that demonstrate how you have changed because of your commitment?


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