When I’m playing cards—especially Spades—and I’m dealt either a GREAT or a HORRIBLE hand, it is hard for me to keep my face neutral. Even when I’m trying to look like nothing special has happened, if you’re really watching, my casualness is a bit forced. I’m not overly familiar with poker, I bet you’ve heard of a poker player’s tell. Wikipedia describes it this way:
“A tell in poker is a change in a player’s behavior or demeanor that is claimed by some to give clues to that player’s assessment of their hand. A player gains an advantage if they observe and understand the meaning of another player’s tell, particularly if the tell is unconscious and reliable. Sometimes a player may fake a tell, hoping to induce their opponents to make poor judgments in response to the false tell. More often, people try to avoid giving out a tell, by maintaining a poker face regardless of how strong or weak their hand is.”
Most people try to avoid giving out a tell by maintaining a poker face regardless of how strong or weak their hand is.
If that doesn’t just about summarize how many of us interact with:
- those on our own teams so as not appear to be the weak link
- supporters lest they stop supporting
- local friends lest they don’t come to know the very One who brought us here
I find it interesting that tells are used for strong or weak hands, not for normal, every day stuff. No wonder Paul writes to the Romans to rejoice with those who rejoice and mourn with those who mourn. We tend to stink at celebrating a strong hand or mourning a weak hand. Hiding behind our tells, we too often try and play each hand as if they are the same as any other hand.
No running water? No problem. Child sick again? God will provide. Visas not coming through? God will open doors to the next assignment. I could go on. Because the theme this week is “edge,” I am focusing on the weak hands, the time when we feel we are close to the edge.
We have talked about faith crises and burnout. We take these edges seriously and want you and teammates to be seen, supported, and known in times of major edges that you may go over. You can go over the edge and be brought back. God can do it!
But not all edges are catastrophic.
Twice in the last year I have come close to the edge. Not a huge-my-life-is-falling-apart edge, but enough of one that I did not like who I was becoming or how it was influencing me. The first time I chalked it up to a stressful season. The second time I realized I have a tell when it comes to edges.
I bet you do too.
When I am getting near the edge I have two tells:
- I am more resentful than normal. “Suddenly” (because it has been building over time but I hadn’t noticed I was moving towards the edge) something that would not have annoyed me too much seems to be pushing my buttons—and for me it’s the “I’m doing more than others” button.
- But the real kicker for me is that I start to write emails in my head.
In January I wrote three emails in my head to Danielle, Kimberly, and Patty. I tried to be calm and professional. I told them that I believe in Connection Groups, but something had to change. I was at my wits end and would never, ever, ever, ever (extreme language like “never” and repetition of words turns out to be part of my tell) coordinate Connection Groups ever, ever again.
Not being at the edge now, I look back and want to down play how I was feeling. How agitated I was on the inside. How out of proportion my reactions were to emails about Connection Groups. How often I told myself: Amy, you can make it. You just have to get to the end of the sign-up and then you never, ever, ever have to do this again. Hold it together and be civil. You’ll get yourself out of this. Walk towards the light at the end of tunnel.
Long story short, the Holy Spirit asked me what had me so close to the edge and it was the administrative piece. I’m decent with administration, but there is a tipping point when I’m working with spreadsheets more than with people and I start writing emails in my head that use words like “never” far too much. Which is to say, I am about go over the edge.
The HS asked me who I thought in Velvet Ashes was good with administration and I emailed Emily Smith. I explained my strengths and weaknesses and asked if she would like to skype with me about helping to work with and lead the Connection Groups. It was the worst sales job ever because I felt like I was saying, “There are two parts to the job: fun parts and awful parts. Would you like to do the awful parts and let me keep the fun parts?”
PRAISE JESUS EVERY DAY SHE SAID YES!
It gets better. Malia Heil had been a mentor, but was sensing God said for her not to mentor this spring. I asked her if she could help with graphics and praying for the mentors. PRAISES JESUS EVERY DAY this is what he wanted her to do instead of being a mentor.
Emily, Malia, and I started a Facebook group to support and love on the mentors. Want to know something hilarious? This FB group has been one of the highlights of the spring. I have loved working with Emily, Malia, and the mentors.
That’s right, I’m glad I did not send the email. It turns out God used my edge to make me miserable enough to push me towards change and to seek out solutions.
I have to say, now that I have noticed this about myself, it I feel a bit more equipped and less afraid of the next edge. I know it will come, but I think I might notice on the first mental email. The second certainly. The third? Oh please Jesus, let’s not get that close to the edge on these normal parts of life. Okay?
So, what are your tells when it comes to getting near this kind of edge? Do you know your spouse’s? Or kids? How about teammates?
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