Saturday, October 23, 2010

16 Things

Normally in school seminars people don't start crying, but I sat in on a very interesting exercise this week and more than half the people in the room were in tears by the end. Not me, of course, I never cry ;-)

We were given 16 pieces of paper and told to write down the following:
4 People (ex. Mom, Dad, Grandmother, etc.)
4 Things (ex. a house, car, computer, paints, spices)
4 Values (ex. friendship, love, loyalty, ambition, passion)
4 Abstract things (ex. beaches, sunsets, hugs, God)

The 16 things we chose would be our entire world. If it wasn't written down on one of our pieces of paper, it didn't exist.

Then we were told to take 4 of these things and rip them up. As though our lives hadn't become deprived enough, with only 16 perks, we had to eliminate 4 of the things that were most important to us.
Most of us got rid of our "things" first. We could live without cars, but not without hugs.
We were asked to rip up 4 more.
Now, whittling it down to only 8 cards, the selfish factor starts to play in. Yes, Grandmother is wonderful, but people don't live forever anyway, right? And I can't do anything useful without my computer. What else could disappear from my life forever? Art (which would include dancing, painting, vibrant colors and life), nature, passion, stories...
Finally, we were left with only 4 cards. We heaved a sigh of relief. That was hard, but at least we had identified the four things that were most important to us. Actually, the exercise was kind of fun; kind of useful, even, right?
Then we were told to rip up 3 of our 4 remaining cards.
The tears start.
How do you choose between Mom or Dad? Who do you "kill off", as though they never existed at all in your life? If you're left with only one thing that would become your entire existence, what would it be? One girl pointed out in frustration that she'd kept "friendship" but killed off all her friends. What's the point of that?

Backing up a few stages... As we were writing down our initial 16 things, I threw God in almost as an afterthought. I didn't really think about Him at first - maybe because I know He's kind of always there whether or not I think about him; maybe because I'm self-centered and forget to bring him into the most important parts of my life even though I am a Christian.
Anyway, as I was narrowing down my choices throughout, my method was to hang onto the cards that implied the same values as cards I was throwing away. I tossed "paints, paper, passion, and nature," but kept "art". "Art" could include all those things, right?
So, when it came down to picking my last card, I decided that "God" could include everything I'd thrown away. He made everything in the world in the first place - if I still had God in my life, he would make sure I had all that I needed. Turns out He's the most important card in my life, and I'd brought him in as an afterthought.
I know there are people who don't believe in God. There were lots of people in the seminar who didn't, but (call me biased) those were the people who were crying. They had to choose between their Mom, Dad, Sister and Grandma. Even after the exercise, they were distraught. They wanted a re-do. They couldn't give up their Mom - but that would mean giving up Grandma instead...
I wasn't upset in the least with my choice - and because I wasn't crying I felt like a cheater. I felt like I'd worked the system. I still had God, so I essentially still had all my cards, wheras most of the other people were forced to give up the people and things they loved the most in the world.
If keeping God in my life means I can have a kind of comfort that will keep me safe through anything, I confess that I love cheating. I'm not technically breaking any rules - and if there's that option, why shouldn't this game be easy?

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