Alone or what Beijing and the History Channel taught me about Resilience

“Endurance is not just the ability to bear

A hard thing, but to turn it to glory.”

-William Barclay

            This quote was shown at the beginning of the season finale of season two of the History Channel show, Alone. I am a big fan of the show, because I have always been interested in bushcraft and survival methods, but I am also drawn to the psychological aspect of the show (basically the take ten people and strand them on an island, in such a way that they are all separated by water, and then with the gear they brought they have to survive, last man standing wins $500,00.

I can relate to some of the isolation felt by the contestants on the show. I have never done anything remotely similar. However, there are feeling that I have noticed that the contestants have had that I can “I’ve been there”.

I can relate to the feeling of isolation that the contestants feel. While I am not alone in the same sense that they are alone, living in a foreign country can produce a feeling of loneliness akin to being by one’s self for long periods of time. As a male it is hard to make friend with my fellow teachers who are mostly female, and mostly married (it would be inappropriate for us to hang out outside of work, and most of the male teachers at my school speak no English and are intimidated by me because I am a foreigner (don’t get me wrong, everyone at my school is very nice, but I don’t exactly have friends at work), then I go home and am alone there too. I have friends in Beijing, but I mostly see them on the weekends, means that I am probably alone or feeling isolated, about 85% of the time. I am working to improve this, but living so far from the actual city makes this hard.

I think that the solution to loneliness and homesickness is to one, acknowledge what you feel and grieve what is lost. Then develop a routine, redirect the energy into something constructive. Nothing will make you more homesick than sitting on your butt, doing nothing. Take every opportunity you can to connect with people, this is easier said than done when you live in a place where you don’t speak the language (or you do speak the language slightly but the local dialect completely mangles the language (I’m looking at you Beijingers)). I recently was able to start going to church again at the church I regularly attended before I left Beijing, and it felt like I had returned home, it completely changed my outlook on being in Beijing (it made being here seem like something I could sustain for a while).

There was a scene in season 2 in which one of the contestants broke down, crying “God, please help me, please help”. I have been there, I distinctly remember last year, at the end of a three year run in Beijing (Beijing is a city that will eat you alive, it is constantly listed on lists of both the most unfriendliest cities and lists of the worst places to live, usually it is in the top 10), I felt so completely at the end of my rope, everything seemed like an insurmountable obstacle. It doesn’t help that I have issues with Anxiety, which just distorts everything.

Unfortunately, we all come to a point when we reach the end of our rope, and unfortunately I don’t have all the answers for to deal with that. The best relief I have is to take a step back and reevaluate your situation. This is best accomplished by taking a vacation, it doesn’t have to be a long one or even far away, just get away from your normal surroundings. During this break don’t think about what you’re dealing with back home, just relax. This time away will allow you to see things with fresh eyes. If that doesn’t work, it probably means you need to change your situation entirely.

The third thing that I have noticed that happens on the show, that can relate to, is something that we all can probably relate to, and that is the feeling of letting other people down when we fail. I experience in July of 2015, when I was forced to relocate to the U.S. due to visa issues. I felt like a failure and a poser and I felt like everyone else probably agreed with that assessment.

The reality was that nobody saw things the way I did, they were disappointed for me, not in me. The reality of the matter was that I had done everything I could do to stay in Beijing, I only booked the ticket at the last minute to skirt any possible trouble that might have arisen. Also I hadn’t been home in three years, so I highly doubt anyone was thinking “what a loser” when they saw me (to be fair I haven’t actually asked any of my friends about it, so they might have been thinking that).

When we fail, we feel like we not only failed ourselves, but everyone else who was pulling for us. Unless our actions actually caused us to fail someone, we haven’t failed anyone, including ourselves. Some failures just happen no matter what you do. It’s how handle the failure that defines us. Two quotes from the late great Mohamed Ali come to mind; “everyone has plan until they get hit” and “everyone gets hit, not everyone chooses to get back up”. I think these ring so true in my life. When things are going right, I know exactly what to do, but the minute things get shaken up, I panic. The good news is that I am one resilient SOB (South Omaha Boy), I very rarely stay down.

Developing Resilience is the key to handling failure, real or otherwise. In life you will fall, numerous times. Eventually you learn that the falls won’t kill you and eventually you just dust yourself off and keep going like nothing happened.

 

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Father? God

I awoke at 4am this morning to rain, and my heart sank. Normally rain brings me great joy, but today I have to meet with a team and go do a summer camp. In order to do that I need to get a taxi, and in Beijing when it rains the taxis disappear. Last night, I prayed intensely hard that it wouldn’t rain until after I got into the city. Before I went to bed, I had a flash thought that said God’s not going to come through because you need this. I dismissed it and went to sleep. And this thought creeps back into my mind as I scramble to figure out how to keep my commitment.

They say that your relationship with your dad effects how you see God. My Father was a physically and emotional abusive narcissist who couldn’t be counted on to come through for his children (people reading this who know my Dad will say I am making this up, but that’s because Dad would drop everything to go help other people and then leave his family hanging).

Donald Miller once said (and I’m paraphrasing here), “with all the all the bad fathers in the world, God’s decision to call himself Father seems like a huge marketing mistake”. I couldn’t agree more. I understand that relationship one has with a friend, or a teacher, or a mentor, or a commanding officer, those relationships would be easy for me to understand the roles played. Calling yourself father and then asking me to trust you is like saying “you’re all alone here and I am most definitely going to let you down when you need me most”.

I struggle with trust on a good day, and on days like today, I am tempted to believe God either doesn’t exist or doesn’t care. The little things hurt the most because they seem like the easiest to do and that is also where it seems like the ball gets dropped the most. I am tempted to believe that I am all alone and can only depend on myself. I lived most of my teens and early twenties like this, and it didn’t work.

So what am I to do. I woke up this morning, and immediately thanked God for another day. It isn’t the one wanted, but today wasn’t promised to me. When I sit self-pity over the times God didn’t come through, I forget all the times he did come through. Yes, I might have trouble getting a cab, I may even have to have to cancel on a commitment I made, but that doesn’t mean that God doesn’t love me or isn’t watching out for me, it just means I was looking in the wrong direction for him.

I still have a long way to go on understand God as a Father. I may never feel completely comfortable with the word father, the damage is done, and the wounds are still healing. But one thing I do know is that God will still be there, even when I act like a giant jackass (remember he used Balaam’s donkey). So this morning, I am going to go out the door, and wait for a taxi and God to show up.

Sit the $%#& Down

So I am supposedly a writer, but I don’t actually have much output. Writing is hard it doesn’t seem like it should be, but it is. I’ve learned that only an idiot tells people they’re a writer, because when you say “I am writer”, people take that to mean that you actually write stuff and that they can read it.

A friend of mine said that all you’ve got to do is sit down and write (well duh) Normally, I punch someone for a comment as asinine as that, but this particular friend is a musician and songwriter, so he knows that while it is as easy as sitting down and hacking away at the keyboard, it’s not that easy to actually sit down and write.

Take today for example, I have a new time management paradigm and today was the first day I did just about everything on my list, and I was done 10am. The only thing I hadn’t done was write. I decided I’d reward myself, and watch a little tv, do some laundry and go grocery shopping before I sat down to write. I ate lunch and told myself I would start writing at two. Then the power went out at exactly 2pm, they’re remodeling the apartment upstairs and occasionally they kill the power for about an hour. So I knew the power wouldn’t come back on until around 3pm, so I took a nap. The power came back on at 3pm and I sat down at the computer and…. Watched youtube videos until 6pm. Then I took a shower. I didn’t start writing this until right around 7pm.

I don’t know why it is always like this. I have the best of intentions to write and somehow it never materializes. In his book, The war of Art (a book everyone should read whether they’re artistic or not), Steven Pressfield say this is due to resistance. Resistance is the unseen, malevolent force that interrupts our creativity and seeks to silence what good we can bring to the world. Pressfield says: “Resistance’s goal is not to wound or disable. Resistance aims to kill. Its target is the epicenter of our being: our genius, our soul, the unique and priceless gift we were put on earth to give and that no one else has but us. Resistance means business. When we fight it, we are in a war to the death”. He goes on to say “Procrastination is the most common manifestation of Resistance because it’s the easiest to rationalize. We don’t tell ourselves, “I’m never going to write my symphony.” Instead we say, “I am going to write my symphony; I’m just going to start tomorrow.”

Hemmingway Said “writing is easy, you just sit down at the typewriter and bleed”. Maybe writing is just sitting down. I have been at for about half an hour and I already have this. Writing or any art is really just about showing up diligently and giving yourself to the work. W. Somerset Maugham was once asked if he wrote on a schedule or just when the inspiration hit, he replied: “I write when the inspiration strikes me, luckily it strike every day at 9am sharp”.

Writing is simply a matter of sitting down. Sitting down is a matter unto itself.

 

Burn the Ships

There is a story about the conquistador Hernan Cortes, that when he got to Mexico, he ordered his men to burn their ships so that they could not return home. This story is held up by many people as a real visionary move, a succeed or die trying statement of leadership. (To be clear I consider Cortes to be scum, someone whose place in history is next to Hitler, Stalin, and Columbus. Cortes destruction of the new world cultures was appalling and as such he should be remembered as evil, though the story of burning the ships is somewhat inspirational).

I have returned to Beijing, seemingly the one thing that I have want to do since circumstances forced me to leave a year ago. But ever since I got here, I have been looking for a reason to run.

I am not sure really why I want to leave, I think the it’s because this time I can, when I first moved to Beijing, I had spent everything I had to get here, and I wasn’t making enough money to go home, now I make enough to buy a plane ticket every month.

Sometimes the simple fact that we can leave will keep us from settling down and digging in. I think Cortes knew that, and that’s why he set fire to his ships. He felt that he had a bigger purpose in Mexico, and he didn’t want the ability to leave to keep him from accomplishing what he set out. I have reached the point where I either cut run now or go all in and burn the ships and don’t look back.

I have taken a good long look at myself, and realized that there is nothing to go back to. My friends and family may still be in Nebraska, but it is no longer my home. Beijing may not be where I am meant to stay forever, but it’s where I am now. If there is move in my future, I need to figure where and then put a plan in place to get there, but in all honesty when I left America I left with purpose of working in Beijing until 2017, and it will take at least that long to set up my next step. So now I dig in and wait for what’s next and watch my ships burn.

Why?

This piece was originally written for a friend’s recruiting website.

I have been living and teaching in China off and on for the last six years, and the most frequent question I find I am asked, other than what is the strangest thing you’ve eaten (three tie between a silkworm, a scorpion, and a donkey burger), is Why? Why would want you live there? Why do you like living in China? Why, for love of god, do you keep wandering around China?

The truth is before I came to China in August of 2016, I never had any desire to visit China. I came because I graduated college, was stuck in an unfulfilling job, and had nothing better to do. Ultimately, I fell in love with the country.

Why? There are so many reasons why, and they’re not always apparent in every situation.

China is old, really old, and it feels old, when your standing on the Great Wall or at the pits of the Terra Cotta Warriors. I studied archaeology in college, so of course the history is appealing.

The people are super friendly (in big cities like Beijing and Shanghai, this isn’t always apparent).  It’s fairly easy to make friends with the locals.

China today is like the American west in the mid 1800’s, basically it’s full of opportunities. As a foreigner you can do anything you want. I have friends who originally came to China to teach English and ended up owning bars, restaurants, and breweries, some have gone on to acting in Chinese movies, and others are now tour guides. There is an amazing sense of adventure that comes from knowing that you literally can do anything you can dream of.

Also there is a really awesome feeling that come from popping out a subway exit and realizing that you’re in Tiananmen Square.

In short I am China, because in my mind nothing else can compare to it. Teaching is great. And the experiences will last you a life time. And as I said when I first came to China all those years ago, it’s only year, you might as well take the Chance.

Not All Who Wander Are Lost

Today, I read a post from the Art of Manliness (a website I thoroughly enjoy), and it stirred in something in me, perhaps, it was just my own defensiveness. The post was entitled Against the Cult of Travel. I will say that I was not offended the opinions this post contained, but felt like it missed the heart of the true nomad.

This post stated that: “Modern culture is in the throes of a real love affair with travel. It’s become a central element of our zeitgeist, a main tenet in living a fulfilled, non-pedestrian life. Everywhere you turn, and no matter the dilemma, travel is offered as the cure… Travel isn’t just framed as a cure-all for what ails us, either, but as a goal around which to build the other elements of one’s life. Don’t have children, the thinking goes, because they’ll hinder your ability to travel. Work for yourself and create passive income, so you can jaunt off to exotic locales whenever you want. In a relatively safe and prosperous time, in a society that lacks many built-in challenges and hardships, travel has become the way to have an adventure, to demonstrate a kind of bravery — a cosmopolitan courage where one ventures into unfamiliar territory and undergoes a rite of passage to become an enlightened global citizen. Travel is thus seen as both a tool of personal development and an almost altruistic moral good. In short, as the old religious sources of guidance and identity have fallen away, a kind of “cult of travel” has developed in their place. But is our faith in travel justified? Or have we forced it to bear the weight of far heavier expectations than it should be made to carry? “

I agree that there a lot of people out there who tout travel, but they are pseudo travelers, when the journey to their 5 star hotel and their carefully curated tour (missing all the grit that makes that place what it really is) end, they return to their comfy houses and their 9-5 jobs and pretend they are better because they “traveled”.

But what about the nomads, what about the nameless, placeless ones who travel simply because our hearts won’t let us rest. Those who do not fit into the modern paradigm of being born, getting an education, shackling ourselves to a desk and a mortgage, getting married, having kids, retiring, and dying, or in modern shorthand, settling down.

I have spent the last five years of my life on the other side of the world as a teacher. I have had many friends who feel as if they have let their parents and friends down because those not to do what was expected. Many of their family and friends also feel as if this person has failed because they did not fall in line with the status quo. This same guilt used to affect me, I always felt like I was missing something, but at the same time this “something” eluded my best efforts to find it. All I knew, was that I was happiest living in China, and that was really what mattered most, opinions be damned.

The funny thing about the AoM post was that the author stated that The Hobbit is considered the Bible by these “travelers”. I love the Hobbit, I love all of Tolkien’s work. I feel like if it is a book about travel, than it is one about the hardship, loneliness, and deprivation of the road. I can relate to Bilbo Baggins simply because I felt similar things during my travels. However, if I were to recommend The Hobbit as a travel book, it be with the words, “this book is about why you shouldn’t travel”.

The nomad’s bibles are books like: The World is My Home by James Michener or anything by Paul Theroux or Pico Iyer.

Although going back to The Hobbit, there is one thing that resonates with me, and that is the quote (although the author of the AoM post does his best to chop it to pieces), “Not all who wander are lost”. Unlike many, I do not take this as license to travel or justification for what I do, but rather as a cry of hope that my way of life isn’t a lost cause just because everyone thinks it is.

When it comes down to it, the AoM post was basically self- justification for not traveling and also self-defense by someone feeling as if society is pushing them to go a direction they’re not comfortable going in. This is a sentiment I can relate to as someone has been urged to give up traveling and settle down. At the same time, many people I love have no desire to travel, yet do not force their way of life on me.

In the end we must follow our hearts and our conscience, or God, if you believe in one, which I do. I believe that my being nomad is somehow part of who he made me to be therefore I shouldn’t mess with it.

And to those feeling pushed to travel remember most of those Instagram pictures were posted by people just like you, people who have the nice cozy life, but want to pretend that they are somehow better and more adventurous than you. Don’t be fooled be the apparent lack of safety nets and security, they’re there, they’re just hidden.

I don’t really think that there is only one way to do life, there is just one way that works for you.

No Why

 

I have come to the realization that I am getting really tired of explaining myself, and my reasons for living overseas. As hard as I try, I can’t actually find a good reason for what I do. By a good reason, I mean one that everyone else thinks is a good reason.

I have been having series of conversations with a family member, and it would seem that they neither get nor approve of my decision to live overseas. The irony of it is that this person is the one I credit with helping to develop the desire I have to travel. They never missed an opportunity to give National Geographics or books about great adventurers.

I could give reasons ‘til I’m blue in the face and I don’t think they would scratch the surface of why I live overseas.  The truth is I’ve wanted to be somewhere else ever since I could walk and I found out that the world is bigger than just Omaha. I feel a certain uncomfortability staying in one place. I despise stagnation.

I think if we get down to it I am the victim of rather the culprit behind my desire to live overseas. I am not saying that I at all feel like a victim, but that I feel the undeniable and inescapable pull of the road. IN the midst of what seems like a chaotic, transient existence, I find my peace. I guess maybe Tolkien was right when said, “Not all who wander are lost.”

When we get down to it, I can’t give a reason for the decisions I’ve made, other than that we all get one life, and this is how I’ve chosen to realize mine. It’s not for everyone, but it works for me, and I am truly at my happiest lost in the chaos of the unfamiliar.

Sure the differences in culture can be annoying. Many cultures never actually say what they mean; leaving you to fill in the blanks of a cultural context you don’t understand. Sure sometimes I end up royally pissed off over some these things. But at the end of the day, I am still happier on the edge of the world than I would be back home in “safety”. “A harbor is a great place for a ship, but ships weren’t meant to stay in the harbor”.

The title for this post comes from a chinglish (English phrases based on Chinese grammar) phrase used by my students when I ask them to explain why something is. Their response is always, “no why”. I think this phrase should become my default response whenever anyone asks “ why do you want live in China?”

 

Scared Brave

I am often told by people how brave they think I am. This comes because I have made the decision to live overseas. When I hear that someone thinks I’m brave, I’m baffled by it. I am not brave, not by long shot. Unless, unless of course, we define bravery as doing something that scares you simply because your more afraid of what will happen if you don’t do that scary thing. I we do define brave that way, then yeah, I’m brave, real brave.

I once read  quote from Edward Dahlberg that said “when one realizes his life is worthless, he either travels or commits suicide.” Now that quote sounds a bit harsh, and I am not suicidal, but there is some truth in it. When we find ourselves lacking fulfillment, we either move on or we die (not always physically, but something in us dies).

And I think that is what motivates me to things that seem crazy. A normal life scares the hell out of me. I want a career, and a family, and I want to be happy, but I want to do so on my own terms. I don’t want a mortgage, or to be tied to job I hate, or wear a shirt and tie.

If I am brave, it is because I choose to run to scary things and away from my nightmare monsters of mediocrity, monotony, and stagnation. I think Jack London said it best: “I would rather be ashes than dust! I would rather that my spark should burn out in a brilliant blaze than it should stifle in dry rot. I would rather be a superb meteor, every atom of me in magnificent glow, than a sleepy and permanent planet. The function of man is to live, not to exist. I shall not waste my days in trying to prolong them, I shall use my time.”

For me, any number of things can happen when I travel. I once had a near panic attack when I was stung in the lip by a fried scorpion I was eating; but that fear is nothing compared to the fear I have of loss of freedom, of conformity, of having to toe the line. I still don’t think I’m brave, just weird.

The China Day

The following is an excerpt from my book in the works, Ni Hao Mr. Buffalo.

The thing that was really crazy to me was that there were days when I would suddenly just have the realization that I was in China. I know it sounds crazy, of course, duh you’re in China, but when you think about life in general, you don’t generally think about where you are. I never been walking down the street and suddenly I realized I was in America. Even in I spent six weeks in Quebec during college I never really had the sudden realization that I was in Canada.

I think that what made this situation unique was that I was working and living and just doing all the things one normally does for survival, the same things I would be doing in America. So I went about my daily as I would, routine doesn’t changed just because you are somewhere else. Yeah, sure, in the back of your mind realize the food is weird and the people are speaking gibberish but you go on with the routine.

My friend Brett works with college students, often helping to prepare them to go overseas. Brett often talks about the concept of the China day, the China Day in Brett’s view is day the day where everything goes wrong. And it’s true, things do go off the rails so often when your living in China, that when everything goes right you find yourself waiting for the other shoe to drop.

For me, the China day came to mean a day where everything went right and I fully alive in the realization of where I was and the fact that somehow against all odds I was living my dream even now nearly five years after leaving Changsha, and after living in Beijing, I still find it hard to believe.

The China day could look like nothing more than just strolling down an ancient alleyway or eating fresh steamed baozi from a street vendor. It really wasn’t about what you did so much as throwing yourself into the experience and being fully consumed by the act of being in China.

Going to China was the hardest and the easiest thing I’ve done. Most people thought I was crazy for leaving, for not buckling down and finding a wife, chaining myself to a desk, having kids and getting buried under a mortgage (not that the normal life is bad, to contrary I want to be normal, it doesn’t seem to be in the cards). I going to China I learned the truth in Robert Frost’s words “Two roads diverged in wood, and I – I took the one less traveled by – and that has made all the difference.”

 

The Hard Middle

“When you are in the middle of a story it isn’t a story at all, but only a confusion; a dark roaring, a blindness, a wreckage of shattered glass and splintered wood; like a house in a whirlwind, or else a boat crushed by the icebergs or swept over the rapids, and all aboard powerless to stop it. It’s only afterwards that it becomes anything like a story at all. When you are telling it, to yourself or to someone else.” —Margaret Atwood, Alias Grace

Stories are hard. That’s the thing they never tell you about life. We see story everywhere, and the abundance of them leads us to believe they should be easy. They’re not. They’re not easy to write, they’re not always easy to read, and they’re definitely not easy to live.

The beginning and the end can be easy, but the middle is usually hell on earth, at least in the stories that matter. Middles suck. All the build-up and excitement leads to work. And the work never seems to be done. I love What Donald Miller says about this in his book, A Million Miles in a Thousand Years:

“IT’S LIKE THIS when you live a story: The first part happens fast. You throw yourself into the narrative, and you’re finally out in the water; the shore is pushing off behind you and the trees are getting smaller. The distant shore doesn’t seem so far, and you can feel the resolution coming, the feeling of getting out of your boat and walking the distant beach. You think the thing is going to happen fast, that you’ll paddle for a bit and arrive on the other side by lunch. But the truth is, it isn’t going to be over soon.

The reward you get from a story is always less than you thought it would be, and the work is harder than you imagined. The point of a story is never about the ending, remember. It’s about your character getting molded in the hard work of the middle. At some point the shore behind you stops getting smaller, and you paddle and wonder why the same strokes that used to move you now only rock the boat. You got the wife, but you don’t know if you like her anymore and you’ve only been married five years. You want to wake up and walk into the living room in your underwear and watch football and let your daughters play with the dog because the far shore doesn’t get closer no matter how hard you paddle.

The shore you left is just as distant, and there is no going back; there is only the decision to paddle in place or stop, slide out of the hatch, and sink into the sea. Maybe there’s another story at the bottom of the sea. Maybe you don’t have to be in this story anymore.”

I am in a middle right now both of a smaller story of going back to Beijing and of the larger story of my life. I often feel the urge to check out, the work doesn’t always seem to be worth the rewards. I mean, how I can be sure there even going to be any rewards at the end of this thing anyway?

A few weeks ago I was presented with the knowledge that it is possible for me to return to Beijing in February 2016, instead of waiting until August 2016 (apparently the school never filled my position and would really like me to come, my paperwork is in order, and due to the fact that my ticket was nonrefundable, I still have a flight to Beijing that I’ve gotta use before July). So I did the logical thing and said a big fat emphatic YEEEEESSSSSSSS!!!!!!!!!.

That’s all fine, well, and good. But now I have to wait on my contacts on the other side of the world to arrange everything. Waiting isn’t my thing. I often tell people that I have a large, angry Viking trapped inside me and he needs out, and never more than when I have to wait for something.

I was gnawing on this predicament during my quiet time the other day and as part of my morning ritual I read the Storyline Blog, and it had  a post ( http://storylineblog.com/2015/11/03/leap-of-faith/ ) that really helped me gain perspective. In the post, the author used the story of Joshua and the Israelites preparing to cross the Jordan into the promised land. He said sometimes all can do is get things in order, wait for God to tell you to move , and dip your toe into the water.

Now that’s great thing to hear, but what about the waiting. Well, the story of the Israelites didn’t end with them putting their feet in the water. When the priests stepped into the Jordan the river didn’t part like at the Red Sea. God stopped the flow of the river 20 or 30 miles upstream. They had wait for 20 or 30 miles of river to pass them by before they got move.

Imagine being an Israelite during this event, there’ so much excitement and anticipation for what God’s going to do next, you probably assume He’ll do what he did last time and just split the in front of you. And the priests step in and it seems like nothings happening. Everything in the river goes floating by, rock, sticks, Cousin Benny. And yet your left wondering if you heard correctly, maybe today wasn’t the day? Maybe God’s done and we’re on our own. And the as if it had always been there you see the bottom.

The waiting is hard. It feels like you’ve failed in some, but it pays off big. The that I like most about the story of the Jordan Crossing is that after they are on the other side, before he starts the flow of the river, God says: have one man from each of the twelve tribes go and grab a stone from the middle of the river and pile them here as memorial to what you have seen.

For a lot of people the take away is that we should always remember and celebrate the amazing thing God has done in our lives , and we absolutely should. But I don’t think God was trying to say “I’m awesome” or “Look what I did”, I think I was trying to say remember that crossing, remember that hard middle, I brought you through it and it was worth it.