Where are all the Adults?

gerome-viavant-217865“When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways.”
– 1 Corinthians 13:11


There was a time when no idea seemed more magical than that of being a 
grown-up.

Countless hours of rigorous training were invested in “helping” in the kitchen, playing house, shuffling around in mom’s heels and pretending to drive from the back seat. These skills were, no doubt, what it would take to become a successful adult!

Every birthday was one step closer to the ultimate goal.

As I scan my peers now, at age 35, I’ll admit, I sometimes find myself wondering:

“Where are all the adults?”

Why, when we spent so much of our early lives pining for the days of adulthood, do so many of us choose to stop short of it?

While appearing to be adults, in function, many haven’t left adolescence. We pay our own rent, buy our own food, know our way around the kitchen and some of us can even walk in heels! Yet, it turns out, those are not the things that make an adult.

Perhaps our time of training would have been better spent on other skills, but what skills?? Recently, as I’ve pondered this question, I keep coming back to one thought…

Nothing has more power to influence our lives than the ability to make good decisions.

If this is true, we should be avidly committed to learning this skill.


“I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child.”

Children think about themselves.

They think about right now.

They think about what they want.

They don’t think about the future or the consequences of their choices.

Children don’t make their own decisions—their parents make decisions for them.

There is a good reason for this! Selfish-momentary-emotional-unconsidered-decisionmaking does not lead to a healthy life.

Children need to learn how to make good decisions. It has to be taught, discussed and modelled.

A parent’s job, even as they make decisions for their children, is to prepare their children for a time when they will not be making choices for them.

As children grow, good parents begin to release the responsibility of decision making to them bit by bit.

Typically speaking, the more freedom they are given, the more they will want. And that’s OK. The instinct to leave childhood behind is a healthy one. We were not made to remain children forever.

But, things often get ugly (literally and figuratively) when these—no longer children and not yet adults—attempt the leap between childhood and adulthood.

It would be nice if we could skip adolescence completely, but the value of this season is learning to reason for yourself.

This season has a reputation for mistakes and missteps. They too are a part of learning. Sometimes the most effective teacher is pain. She can serve us well if we listen to her. Experiencing the consequences of poor decisions can save us from making the same mistakes again and again.

Teenagers don’t want anyone making their decisions for them—they want to express their independence.

Childhood meant being under their parent’s control, so it’s no surprise many teenagers rebel against their parents’ input. They struggle to free themselves from the bonds of childhood and swing to the opposite end of the spectrum.

The danger at this stage is developing the misconception that, since adulthood is beyond childhood, it is the opposite of childhood. Therefore, since decisions were made for them as children, they ought to function autonomously as adults.

Once they’ve spread their wings and tasted sweet-independence, the idea of receiving input from parents or others leaves a bitter taste in their mouths.

Our postmodern society hasn’t done us any favours either.

It has sold us a lie– the lie that we deserve to be “happy” above all else and should only pursue the things that guarantee this end. With this as our guiding star, we’ve been given permission to live selfishly. To seeking only what we want. To care only about ourselves. To not consider the consequences of our behaviour.

Society has given us permission to keep making decisions like children.

No wonder we would have a generation of missing adults. They’ve not graduated from adolescence. They’ve remained instead in a state of extended childhood, resisting advice, convinced they know best.


“I gave up childish ways.”

This begs the question:

“How are we meant to make adult decisions?”

The book of Proverbs has much to say on the subject. Here are a few of the highlights…

Proverbs 1:8-9
Hear, my son, your father’s instruction,
        and forsake not your mother’s teaching,
 For they are a graceful garland for your head
        and pendants for your neck.”

Proverbs 3:5-8
Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
        and do not lean on your own understanding.
 In all your ways acknowledge him,
        and he will make straight your paths.
 Be not wise in our own eyes;
        fear the Lord, and turn away from evil.
 It will be healing to your flesh
        and refreshment to your bones.”

Proverbs 11:14
“Where there is no guidance, a people falls,
        but in an abundance of counsellors there is safety.”

(emphasis added)

Over the course of our lives, our ability to think and reason grows, but our pride should shrink.

Receiving advice from others does not make you less of an adult!

Adults involve God and wise counsel in decision-making.

I’d wager most Christians don’t feel embarrassed to seek God’s input in decision-making. It’s the spiritually acceptable thing to do.

The Bible doesn’t stop with advising that we ask for God’s guidance though. It clearly advocates involving wise and trusted people in decision-making. This circle may vary, but for many, it would include parents, mentors, pastors and discerning friends.

As adults, our parents take a new role in our lives. They transitioning out of being our primary authority, and (hopefully) into being our most trusted advisors—a shift which requires humility on both parts.

On our part, the humility to listen. To admit our parents have experience and wisdom we could benefit from.

On our parents’ parts, humility to accept that after giving their guidance, they need to step back and let us make our own choices.

By seeking guidance from the Bible, God, parents and trusted others, we get to draw from their wisdom. There is safety and support within this. They can keep us from disaster by helping us see things we haven’t considered yet or challenge our wrong attitudes and poor reasoning. They can even encourage us in making the right choices that we are afraid to step out in.

Spiritual Adulthood
In much the same way as our natural parents want us to leave childhood and become healthy functioning adults, our Heavenly Father wants us to leave spiritual childhood and become healthy functioning spiritual adults.

As children, we had to be told what to do. We had to be taught what was right. We needed others to reason on our behalf. Now, as we live adult lives of faith, we can also expect to engage with God in an adult way.

We should seek God’s guidance even more diligently than that of our earthly counsellors, His wisdom trumps all others. But at the end of the day, He has entrusted us to make decisions. We do not need to live in fear of missing His “plan”. His design is not control–He wants to make decisions with us, not for us. He intended us for adulthood.

So… Grow Up
Now that the dream is a reality, I can report that being a grown-up isn’t as magical as I’d imagined it would be.

Admittedly, I enjoy driving, having nice shoes and going to bed as late as I want (or, more realistically, as early as I want). I feel less enthusiastic, however, about cleaning up after myself, paying bills and doing what is right and responsible instead of what I want to.

As un-magical as it is, it’s inarguably worth reaching for!

My challenge for all of us is this:

Let’s not look back from the other side of our mistakes, wishing we had asked for input when we still had the chance to benefit from it. God has placed people in our lives we can and should reach out to for guidance. Let’s discard independence and begin to function out of a collective wisdom!

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Does God Give Us More Than We Can Handle?

blogboatJust 2 weeks away from running the 2nd Bible Core Course in Brisbane, I’ve found myself staring down the barrel of a problem I never expected to have.

Our inaugural school challenged me a great deal as a leader. Despite many people expressing interest in the course, our student numbers were not rising as it drew closer. We ended up with 4 students and a budget too small to afford the very basics. Regardless, I resolved not to give up, cancelling was not an option.

If I hadn’t persevered, I would have missed the opportunity for God to teach me that I didn’t have to compromise on quality because of finances. Through relying on Him, humility and creativity, we ran a school that I could feel proud of – a school that never felt second-rate despite our meagre budget.

With the school of “less than enough” now behind us, we prayed for more students this time around. In my mind, 6 would be enough, but I decided to pray for 8-10 students.

And, God gave us enough!

Then, He met my hopes.

Then, He exceeded my hopes.

Then, He exceeded my LIMIT!

My heart’s inner dialogue began to scream “ENOUGH! It’s more than we can handle!”.

As a leader, it’s a dilemma. I don’t want to turn away anyone who wants to study the Bible, but I also feel a responsibility to not put more on myself and my staff than we can handle.

How much can they handle?

How much can I handle?

And what about this idea that “God won’t give you more than you can handle”?

When I look at the world around me, I struggle with that concept. How can it be true when so many people are living lives that are certainly full of more than they can handle?

The inspiration for this thought seems to be 1 Corinthians 10:13b “God is faithful, and will not let you be tempted beyond your ability…”. But, let’s copy this ½-sentence and paste it back into its context to explore its real meaning.

Here, we have the Apostle Paul, writing to the church in Corinth. In this particular chapter, he is addressing their temptation towards idolatry. He uses the history of the Israelites in the wilderness as an illustration of their circumstance.

All of Israel experienced God and had the potential to come into what He had promised them, but few did because they had a weakness towards idolatry, sexual immorality, grumbling and putting God to the test. Comparing it to a race, he says, all the athletes run, but only 1 takes the prize. So, don’t be like the many, be like the 1! Run to win – it is possible to overcome temptation – because “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, BUT with the temptation, he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.”

This verse should be an encouragement to us! An encouragement that with God, it’s possible to overcome any temptation and live righteously.

It has instead become a Christian way of telling people to “suck it up”. We use it to make others feel that if they can’t bear the load they’re under, they must not be trusting in God. Can we please stop using scripture to hurt each other?!

Instead, let’s look at examples in the Bible that relate to our struggle of feeling overwhelmed by the pressures in our lives – our responsibilities, circumstances beyond our control, etc.

Moses.

Moses had the overwhelming task of being the leader of Israel in the Wilderness years. When they left Egypt, they were 600,000 men, plus women and children (Exod. 12:37). Estimates suggest their total number could have been around 2-3 million and it was Moses’ job to lead them. It was no small responsibility. It was time-consuming. It was draining.

Luckily, God sent wisdom to Moses through his father-in-law, Jethro, who saw the way Moses was labouring for the people from morning to night. He advised Moses that for his sake, and the sake of the people, he needed to learn to delegate responsibility to those who were trustworthy and capable of handling more than they were already carrying! By obeying Jethro’s advice, Moses learned how to share his burden with others. (Exodus 18)

Learning from Moses’ example, we should ask ourselves: Are there areas of control I need to release or delegate to others in order to be able to handle my other responsibilities better?

Gideon.

Gideon was from the weakest clan in Manasseh and the least in his father’s house. Yet, God entrusted him with a massive task. Saving Israel from the oppression of the Midianites and Amalekites, who had afflicted them for 7 years. At that time, the Israelites would plant their crops only to have the Midianites, Amalekites and their livestock swarm in like locusts, devouring everything.

Gideon’s first act of obedience was one that would make him very unpopular. The people of Israel had been worshipping, and putting their trust in the gods of the Amorites. But, it would not be Baal, the sun-god, and Asherah, the goddess of fertility, who would make Israel’s crops and livestock flourish, their hope needed to be in Yahweh. Gideon had to tear down the altar of Baal, cut down the Asherah beside it and, in their place, build an altar to God.

He then called together an army of 22,000 to go up against the vast army of the Midianites and Amalekites. But God said “it’s too many”, and instructed Gideon to send some home. With only 10,000 left, God again said “it’s too many”, he wanted to leave no question in the minds of Israel – it would be by HIS hand that they were saved, not their own – so He narrowed Gideon’s army down to a measly 300 men. 300 against a vast army. And then, He gave them the victory. (Judges 6-8)

Learning from Gideon’s example, we should ask ourselves: Does God want to bring himself glory through me? Are there circumstances in my life that I need to trust God’s ability in, instead of looking to my own ability?

Jesus.

How comforted we can be to know that Jesus is able to relate to even the most burdened of hearts. We hear it in his own painful words in the Garden of Gethsemane “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death.”

Under the weight of what laid before him, we see him on his knees, praying to the Father. He wished to be spared the agony that was coming, but surrendering his own desires to God’s plan. Giving word’s to his heart’s inner dialogue, he cried out “Yet not what I will, but what you will.” And leaning into God’s strength, he submitted himself to death on the cross. (Mark 14:32-42)

From Jesus’ example, we learn how to: Cry out to God for His strength to endure the things we need to endure.

When I look at these examples in scripture I have to come to the conclusion that sometimes God DOES give us more than we can handle. And often life does it without God’s help. BUT, either way, He doesn’t leave us there! Though the way forward in each circumstance is different, this I know:

God gives us wisdom to change our circumstances.

God uses our circumstances to bring Himself glory.

And God strengthens us to endure the unendurable.

With the school of “too much” on the near horizon, I’ve asked myself these questions, and I’m relieved to say that God has transformed my heart’s inner dialogue to “Not my will, but yours Lord”.

I choose to see my impossible through the eyes of His possible.

Will you choose to do the same in your life?

3 Unsolicited/Unqualified thoughts on Relationships

I hear the rumours a few times a year…it’s happening again – The Relationship Panel. 

It’s a part of the 6 month discipleship schools run through the organisation I have worked with for the last 12 years. The course leaders invite a panel of people to answer any questions about relationships the students may have. 

I have never been invited. Not once. 

Anyone who knows me knows I almost always have an opinion on almost every subject. That being the case, I can only suppose it’s my relationship status (chronically single) which has rendered me unqualified in the eyes of the inviters. 

Here is my problem with that conclusion – It’s wrong.

When someone wants to drive a car, they need to acquire a Drivers’ Licence, a process generally involving at least 2 parts. Firstly, the aspiring driver must pass a written test, proving they understand the rules of the road. Secondly (hopefully after some practice), they must demonstrate that they possess the necessary skills in an on-road evaluation. Upon successful completion, they are issued a licence.

But, what about someone who wants to start a relationship? There is no formal process. No required knowledge or skill to demonstrate. No pre-requisites whatsoever. In fact, literally anyone can start a relationship.

So, riddle me this…How does being in a relationship suddenly qualify a person as an authority on the subject? Well, it doesn’t. Look around. Is it hard to find examples of people in relationships who are not ready? Who lack wisdom and haven’t mastered the skills needed for producing healthy and enduring relationships? Then, is it so hard to believe some of us singles may have more authority on the subject than a cursory glance lets on?? 

I think some of us do.

And so, here are my unsolicited thoughts on the matter:

sport

#1 Love is not a Competitive Sport
Because we’ve all uttered the words “She’s out of his league!”

Don’t pretend you’re a better person than me, you’ve said it too! Such an ugly comment. As soon as the words escape our mouths we know we’ve said something truly horrible. After all, what criterion do we use to put people in these imaginary leagues? Their looks? Level of education? Occupation? Wealth? Certainly not important things like character and personality. 

If superficiality was the whole of it, it would be bad enough, but this way of thinking about people has an even greater implication lurking just beyond our perception. 

When we turn relationships into a sport, we turn our peers into our competition. 

The people who should be our confidants and encouragers are suddenly the enemy. And the objects of our affections? Well, they are just that – objectified. They become the prize we are fighting to win instead of people to be respected, honoured and loved.

Without even realising it, we’ve assaulted our relationships – platonic and romantic. 

If we want healthy relationships, it will never start with a judgemental spirit.

ride

#2 There is no Minimum Height for this Ride
Because “He’s a great guy, but he’s too short for me” is a lame excuse. 

Your relationship partner’s primary purpose in life is not to be a counterbalance for your insecurities!

Girls – Being with a guy who’s taller than you can’t fix the fact that you hate your body. Neither will his muscular build provided you with the kind of security you long for.

Guys – The level of her beauty isn’t the measure of your worth or manhood. 

In order to have grownup relationships, we need to grow up. Writing off a great person so you can attempt to remain blissfully insecure is not a grownup decision. 

At the end of the day, what makes up a person’s substance should be the determining factor for who we choose to spend our lives with. 

If we want healthy relationships, it requires dealing with our insecurities.

kools

#3 Don’t Drink Youth Group Kool-Aid
Because no one should ever say “God won’t bring you a husband/wife until you’re happy being single” ever again!!!

I don’t know the etymology of this rampant teaching, which dominated my years in youth group, but guess where it’s not from – The Bible.

If you can find a passage of scripture (without taking it out of context to make it mean what you want it to) supporting this argument, I welcome your email. As for me, I’ve tried connecting the dots and can’t make out the picture. I see it nowhere.

I’m sure the whole things started very innocently. Perhaps with someone who, in their heart, had placed their desire for a romantic relationship above their love for God. It would be the height of love, in that case, for God to challenged the position of their idol.

The danger is what followed. We twisted it and made a doctrine of it. A doctrine rooted in someone’s personal experience instead of Biblical truth.

Does it matter? Yes. I imagine the damage it caused is not small.

It matters to the inconsolable girls wondering why, no matter how hard they try, they can’t rid themselves of the desire to be married. They are devastatingly convinced it means God will never approve them as ready for a husband.

Or to the ones who reach their own verdict – God is not just – when they’ve watched friend after friend pair off in relationships, though none of them seemed to have successfully met the ‘qualifications’ either. Why not them? Why would they want to continue serving such a fickle God?

God is not withholding. Your relationship status is not a barometer of God’s approval. Some of us will marry, others will stay single and neither one is a reflection of how much we are loved by God.

If we want healthy relationships, it won’t come as a reward for earning it.

Phew! Glad I finally got that out!!

Thank you for coming to my panel, you’ve been a great audience! I believe we have some time left for questions…

Black Day

My roommate keeps a cup of coins on the windowsill in our room. Last week she made some sort of complaint about it (she gets married this weekend and will need to do something with it when she moves out), so I asked what seemed to me a valid question: “Why do you bother collecting your coins if you don’t want them?”. Both roommates looked at me, as if the answer should be obvious, and she responded “For a Black Day!”.

This week it was 5 months since I came to Russia, and this was certainly not the first time I had heard people refer to the ‘Black Day’. I have to admit is seemed like a bit of a pessimistic concept to me. It reminded me a little of the paranoia some people felt about Y2K. You know the people I’m talking about, too scared to leave the house that night, bathtubs full of water and every electronic item in the house shutdown and unplugged (as if their alarm clock was going to set off the end of the world if left attached to a power supply). I was at one friend’s house in the summer of 2005 and they were still eating the stash of canned goods from the garage her mom had hoarded for Y2K.

My view on the matter was changed somewhat this morning. An early morning trip to the bathroom revealed that the water was out and we soon heard that it would be out in our whole region all day. At that point my roommate dragged out one of the three 20L jugs of water that was stowed behind the couch as well as a 5L jug of drinking water. When I asked “you had this just sitting around?” she replied “yeah, for a Black Day!”. That is when I realized what I had failed to see before, it’s not a culture of pessimism that has everyone poised for disaster, but a matter of readiness. In Canada or Australia you would think someone was very strange for storing litres upon litres of water in their house “for a Black Day” but here the idea of Black Days are not just for fatalistic people who think the sky is falling. Black Days are for everyone, because at one time or another they’ve all been in a position of hardship or need and learned to be prepared for the the next time it inevitably happens.

After this grand revelation I was sitting in the living room thinking about my own state of readiness and wondered what, if anything, I should have stored away for my own Black Day. What foreseeable problems could be looming over the horizon that I’m not yet prepared for? Maybe something tragic could happen at home that I would need to urgently fly back for. Should I have an emergency savings? What if a natural or political disaster happened here and I needed to leave the country in a hurry, should I have all of my important things packed in one place for a quick getaway? What if I ran out of coffee and money at the same time? Should I have a secret stockpile of instant coffee (and in such a case could I even bring myself to drink it)?!?!!

While an emergency savings doesn’t seem like a bad idea, there wasn’t much else I could think of. Growing up as a privileged Westerner (yes middle classers, you are privileged!) my Black Days were less to do with physical or financial deficiencies than emotional or relational ones. I was never too hungry, too thirsty, too cold or in immediate danger. My Black Days were times of betrayals and broken hearts.

Is it possible to be prepared for a Black Day of the heart? The point of a cup of coins or a jug of water is not that they will stop a Black Day from coming, but that they will help you to pass though the difficulty relatively unscathed, but what preparation can be made for heartache?

As irony would have it, this was something that God and I have already been talking about for several months. Just before I left Australia a pastor friend of mine was praying for me and told me that he felt that God wanted to tell me to “stay open”. I hadn’t really considered that I wasn’t open, but as I prayed about it God started speaking to me about vulnerability.

It seems that being vulnerable is not something that I’m as good at as I could be. Apparently many people find it easy to hug others and telling their friends that they like them, and this is considered normal. My friend Courtney used to joke that we were only friends because she pursued me, I realize that this has been the case with a lot of my friendships. It’s an embarrassing admission, but I like to wait until I’m really sure that someone wants to be my friend before I let them know that I want to be theirs too. Seems much safer this way.

It doesn’t take much digging to locate the root of this insecurity. It’s a very simple, a typical story really…people hurt me, so I put up a safeguard from being hurt the same way again. You can’t break a heart that doesn’t let you in. I could be spiritual about it and tell you that I’ve been “guarding my heart” but the truth is I’ve been guarded as a measure of self-preservation. There has been a lot of healing in my heart over the years and I know this area is so much better than it once was, but when God gave me this word about staying open I knew that He wanted to get His shovel at that root.

The fact of the matter is that you can’t stop a Black Day from coming and trying to is of no benefit, so how can you be ready? What is the cup of coins to help you get through heartache relatively unscathed? The only answer I have is to pursue God. He is the only hope in pain and the only healer for a broken heart.

That’s why I am going to get over myself. Yes, I’m going to hug people! I am going to tell my friends that I love them. But most of all I am going to keep pursuing God. That will be my readiness for a Black Day.

Super Mario Kartoshka

Before the time of X-Boxes and Play Stations, but after the time of Ataris, I used to play a little something called “Super Nintendo”. My all-time favourite game was, without a doubt, Super Mario Kart. I just loved flying around those corners trying madly to avoid the perilous banana peels and deadly turtle shells, not to mention having the opportunity to crush my opponents! Ahhhh, good times. But why the flashback? Well, on Saturday my friend took me to her village for the long weekend and as I sat with my fingernails digging ever deeper into my seat, I realized what the trip reminded me of – Super Mario Kart. I’m pretty sure the countless potholes we had to dodge on our 4 hour trip were far more perilous than any banana peel and the oncoming cars (in our lane of course) more deadly than any turtle shell I’ve ever seen.

Spring time here means it’s time to go to the village and and get the garden ready, so of course part of our weekend was spent outside, tilling the soil and planting vegetables. Our contribution was planting the beetroot, carrots and radishes. I couldn’t help but think of the irony of the situation, that I was now voluntarily working in the garden (something that my mom couldn’t manage to persuade me to help with as a kid) and even funnier still, I was planting beetroot, which she planted every year and had to force us all to “try at least once!”. We didn’t plant the main crop, potatoes because that doesn’t happen until later in the month. One of my favourite things about the house was the cellar where they store all of the potatoes and preserved fruits and vegetables that they grow in the summer so that they will last all year. To get to the cellar, you had to open a trapdoor in the middle of the kitchen floor and climb down a ladder.

No trip to the village would be complete without some quality time in the Banya. North Americans would call it a sauna, or if they have been to one in Russia, they might call it a furnace. The first night, in an effort not to get dehydrated, I drank WAY too much water! I made it about 10 steps out the door before I was convinced I was going to throw up and had to lay down. The second night I was determined not to make the same mistake and only drank 2 glasses. I didn’t feel sick, but I did get dizzy and nearly fall face-first into the garden on my way back to the house. I’m sure there is a balance somewhere, but I didn’t find it.

The rest of the weekend was for relaxing. I got some reading done, taught Oksana how to play Carcassonne and most fun of all, I went Ice Skating! I’m not exactly sure when the last time I skated was, but I’m confident it has been more than 10 years. It took me a few minutes to find my balance again, but I dusted off my old skills and had a great time. I’m not sure who was more excited, me or the ladies who worked there, to have a real Canadian at the rink. I think I may need to buy myself some skates for next winter. If only Vladivostok had a hockey team for me to go cheer on, then I think my joy would be complete…*sigh*.

All in all, I had a great time in the village. I can’t wait to go back in summer to eat the vegetables I planted and learn now to make jams and preserves from all the delicious things they grow!

Note: For all you non-Russians who might still be confused about the name of this article, Kartoshka is the Russian word for potato.

Benches and Superstitions

I’d like to introduce you to my bench.

I’m usually a few minutes early for class, so last week, while waiting for my teacher to arrive an unlock our room, I sat down on the floor next to my classroom. I’d never actually seen anyone else sitting on the floor here, but due to the fact that I was tired and am not to concerned about a little bit I dirt, I sat down. Soon the teacher came, I got up, we had class, I went home and thought nothing more of it. But the next day when I arrived, as if by magic or by bench fairies, this beautiful (ok, ugly, but still wonderful) bench now sat exactly where I had the day before! I thought it  was a very happy coincidence but when I mentioned it to my roommate she offered an alternative explanation…but before I tell you her thoughts, let me be a little divergent for a moment.

Russia is a country of many superstitions. I’m sure that every culture, including my own, have superstitions or “old wives tales” that we’ve been fed since children and blindly believe, it’s just easier to spot them in someone else’s culture. For example, in Canada when someone is sick with a cold we feed them Chicken Noodle Soup. But why? Is there any particular healing powers in this soup? Would my sick friend be just as revived if I fed her Minestrone or Borscht? Or should I really not go swimming for 45 minutes after eating?

Several weeks ago, when I finally got too tired of wearing winter boots all day, everyday, I decided to wear some nice flats instead. These flats were accused by my Russian roommates of being sandals, which they most certainly are not. An argument broke out at our front door about whether or not I could be permitted to leave the house in shoes that would surely make me sick. The roommate that I was going with told me that she would be accused of not taking proper care of me if I went out with her in these shoes, and so, with much grumbling, I changed back into my only “seasonally appropriate” footwear – boots.

The shoe thing, though annoying, I could at least see coming. Some of others have flown at me from left field. For example…Did you know that you can’t eat cucumber and drink milk at the same time because it will give you diarrhea? Or that eating raspberries, or anything containing raspberries, less than an hour before going outside will give you a cold?

I recently offended one of my Russian friends when she told me another similar belief and I ignored her advice and tactlessly told her that it was only a Russian superstition and was not medically sound. She gave me a sweet (loaded with meaning) smile and left the room. Mental Note: demeaning someone’s cultural beliefs is probably not the best way to keep friends.

And now, back to my bench…In Russia, it is believed that sitting on the cold floor is bad for a woman’s reproductive system, and is thus not considered proper behaviour. So, my roommate suggested that the fact that a foreign student felt the need to sit on the floor, might have been the reason that prompted the delivery (likely by janitorial staff, not fairies) of the miracle bench. And so, whether medically sound or not, I’m certainly grateful for the superstition that brought me and my bench together. I plan to spend plenty of time sitting on the floor next to it after class, drinking milk and eating cucumbers and raspberries before walking home in the cold with my sandals on.

Tell me what you think. Superstition or Fact?

Baby Update

I know many of you were curious after reading the last article what would happen to the little girl that we were taking care of. I’m happy to report to you that the family that she has been staying with since being with us want to adopt her. Even more importantly than that the mother has acknowledged that she is not able to care for her and has agreed to sign over her rights to the baby. This is such good news for this precious little girl!