Looking On The Last Thirty Years: Not All Triangles Are 180 Degrees
If there are two things I can be certain of over the past two years, it would be the meaning behind "not all triangles are 180 degrees," and God was with me every step of the way. I have been grasping how to say thanks to all the birthday wishes, reflecting on how life has been anything but what I predicted, and contemplating how I want my thirties (really the next thirty years) to be marked. This is my attempt to write out the typhoon of thoughts swirling in my head.
First, what do I mean by "not all triangles are 180 degrees," and the meaning behind it? As a math teacher at heart, I must include a short math lesson in this. To put it simply, "not all triangles are 180 degrees" is not blasphemy. I'm sure your middle/high school teacher told you that all the angles in a triangle add to 180 degrees. If you did not know that the statement your secondary teacher told you is, in fact, a lie; you are now enlightened! The truth is that there is more to the story than you have been told. (I wonder how many kids and young adults would actually love math if they had the chance to see the whole picture of math, but I digress...) The image below gives two examples of triangles where the sum of their angles is MORE or LESS than 180 degrees.
The meaning behind this introduction to non-Euclidean geometry... is that there is always more to the story.
These past thirty years have shown that there is far more to my, and to your, story than what seems to be. At the time, it seemed like life was just full of woes and hurts. Even today, I wonder if life will "calm down" and not be so crazy. Yet, looking at the past thirty years, I can see there was always more going on beyond my vision. I do not have all the answers or reasons for everything that has happened and I am at a place of accepting that I won't know everything. If there is one lesson I have learned through it all, it is that there is more than what I can see at the moment. I have faith that nothing is wasted and everything is going to be used to shape and form me. The only way I have arrived at this point is by clinging to my faith and resting in God's perfect love, complete sovereignty, and infinite wisdom (check out Trusting God: Even When Life Hurts by Jerry Bridges).
Every trial, every question, every mountain and valley have been, are, and will be used to shape and form me. It has been amazing looking back and thinking about the amazing support God has put into my life through the years. I wish I could name every single person who has made an imprint on my life; no matter how small, I thank each of you.
I am amazed to look at all of the obstacles I have been through and overcome. Yet, that sentence is not entirely correct because it is just me. Each and every person who has mentored me, coached me, listened to me, laughed with me, and cried with me has been a part of each challenge and every victory. Simply put, words cannot express my gratitude toward each of you and to God for placing you in my life at just the right time. This includes you who think you have not made any impact. I promise that even the quietest word has made me think and has shaped me.
We celebrated my birthday by going to the last Good For All event at Valley Church on October 1st. Although the ending concert by Cody Carnes was amazing, the part that will always stick with me was the message by Ricky Jenkins. Pastor Jenkins is from Southwest Church in Indian Wells, CA. He gave the Sunday message at church beforehand that challenged my wife and me. His message titled, Stay Here (you can watch it here), laid the foundation that God was going to build on that night. I left the church the morning wanting more of Jesus, wanting to do better at abiding in Jesus, and contemplating how my thirties were going to look like. That night, I found what I wanted my next ten years to be marked by.
Pastor Jenkins' message during Good For All had three points:
Remember the foundation of prayer.
After hearing his message, I knew that was how I wanted my thirties to be marked. When my wife looks back at my life with me a decade from now, my prayer is that she sees my life being marked by prayer, kindness, and gentleness.
I have many worries and challenges, from being a teacher in today's world, to running a nonprofit with my wife, going through the green card process for her, and everything in between, there are many things my flesh desires: money, job security, happiness, etc. I would definitely not argue with winning the lottery or for teachers receiving a major pay raise; however, I want my life to be seen as prayerful, kind, and gentle. I want to make my life count.
If there is anything I can be sure of as I enter into year 30, it is how I started this writing: there is going to be more than I can see. Whatever comes my way, I am grateful for how it will shape me; I am blessed with a support system that spans cultures and countries; I am expectant for God to blow me away.
If you've made it this far, I hope the same for you. Wherever you are in life, I hope you understand there is more to your life than you can imagine, can see the support system around you, and how God loves and cares for you. Your life matters and I hope you find the true meaning of life through the Gospel. Once dead, now alive; once lost, found; once disowned, now beloved.
Go well, Austin