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My Workplace Visit to Garmin

My Workplace Visit to Garmin

Ever wish you had an easy button? You know, a button to hit when life is difficult so everything just works out. I recently had the opportunity to visit the Garmin headquarters located in Olathe, Kansas and guess what I found out! They invented the easy button for landing an airplane! So if you ever find yourself suddenly in charge of flying an airplane (let’s sure hope not, right?) just hit the easy button (the technical name for that is autoland) and it will contact air traffic control, communicate with them, take control of your plane, and land it for you. All you have to do is put your seat in a forward and upright position! 

 

Why Visit Garmin

To be fair, this is not the reason I visited Garmin, but it’s still really cool to talk about. But why visit Garmin? Over 25 people who work for Garmin attend the Olathe Campus of Christ Community, and I wanted to see their workplace and ask how they see God in their work. Our work is one of the most important ways we worship God. Good work, done well, matters. This could be developing technology that saves lives, sweeping floors, or changing diapers. We often forget this beautiful reality and I visited Garmin to remind them that their work is valuable and to expand my own understanding of what God is doing through them. 

 

Brokenness and Redemption

I was able to have lunch with a few of our congregants and I asked them two questions: “Where do you see the brokenness of the world?” andHow does your work seek to bring redemption to that brokenness?”  

 

Where Do You See the Brokenness of This World?

Randine Ailshie works in the Global Supply Chain department and sees the brokenness very clearly. She receives about 20 to 30 emails a day detailing all types of issues: natural disaster, political, war, cyber-terrorism, etc. It’s her job to make sure that regardless of what happened, those suppliers still have the ability to ship out parts so Garmin products can be made. In Randine’s words, “To tie it to the brokenness a little, admittedly it took me a while to learn to separate my personal feelings about people from the ability to get my job done. For instance, I could read an email that states that an earthquake struck Japan and left 500 people dead and 1,000 missing. I have to look past the fact that families are in distress and only focus on if Garmin is affected. That is kind of a hard pill to swallow. How can you ignore that?  People are out there searching for their families and I have the nerve to send an email to make sure that my needs are met? It’s crazy sometimes. The redemption that I find in my job is when I hear that the person I work with in Japan was not close to any damage and his family is all safe.” Randine goes on to say that she has made friendships around the world simply by asking the person she is corresponding with if they are okay. That simple question and act of kindness has gone a long way to bring light into a dark place. 

 

How Do You Seek to Participate in Redemption?

Dan Irish works in the Compliance Engineering department and works to arrange the testing and certification of Garmin products. One of the places he sees the brokenness of this world is that God’s creation is being destroyed, specifically, in the poaching of animals on the endangered species list in South Africa, Tanzania, and Kenya. In order to combat this brokenness and seek to bring redemption, Dan and his team use Garmin technology to train tracking dogs used to combat poaching. Because of this technology, there has been a 95% reduction in the amount of poaching! Dan marvels that the work he does in Olathe can have such a significant impact on the stewardship of God’s creation around the world. 

 

That the Lost May Be Found

I started this with an easy button, so let me end with an easy button. Did you know Garmin sells devices with an SOS button? They saw the brokenness of the world in the number of people getting lost and not found, and sought to bring redemption by adding an SOS button. Whether you are on a rural country road or on Mount Everest, if you have an inReach device from Garmin, you can push that button and a Garmin team monitoring everything 24/7/365 from Houston will get a text.They will dispatch local search and rescue to save your life. How cool is that? They literally get an internal email list every week sharing how many lives were saved that week.

 

God is at Work

I went to Garmin that day hoping to encourage people and remind them that their work plays a role in bringing redemption to the world, that God cares about the good work they do, and that God uses their work to form and shape them. I’m not sure if I accomplished my mission, but I do know that I left in awe of how God uses people with so many different talents and skill sets to be his hands and feet in the world. God is at work using the ordinary work of men and women to combat the brokenness of this world and usher in redemption. 

Where Can I Go With My Shame?

Where Can I Go With My Shame?

I was standing in a group of people I love and I couldn’t hide or deny my hurtful behavior. Everyone saw what I did. I couldn’t make excuses or suppress the truth. There was no justification for it. I was caught and stood there with my shame exposed. 

Have you ever found yourself in a situation where you did or said something that you wish you could take back? Have you lashed out at someone you love, said something you regret, or wished you could go back and try it over again? Your face turns red with embarrassment, your shoulders tense up with anxiety, your heart races, and you feel warm and clammy. 

These are the kind of moments I try desperately to avoid. And I don’t think I am alone. I think most of us try our best to hide our shame. We would do anything to not be seen and exposed for how bad we actually are. Often the cover up or scrambling to cover your tracks can be worse than the mistake you made in the first place.

What surprises me the most about the scrambling is how instinctual it is for me and how desperately I cling to it. Oftentimes I don’t even have to think about it before I lie, or twist the truth to others and myself so that I don’t have to see my sin for how ugly it is. And then I double down. I make excuses. I justify my actions. I would do anything to not have my shame exposed. 

 

Could Shame be a Gift?

But what if having my shame seen by others could actually serve as a gift? What if the thing I am working so desperately to keep hidden is an opportunity to receive grace, love, and forgiveness? Hold that thought while we jump back to the story. 

Here I am standing in front of my extended family, trying to gather their attention so that I can pray. They are all looking at me with shock and indignation. It was quiet for a few moments before my mother-in-law walked over to me. 

What should I do? What can I say? I don’t have the opportunity to hide, suppress, or deny what just happened. I did the only thing I could with my shame exposed. I looked at her and said, “I’m sorry. I was wrong. Will you forgive me?” 

This was scary. This was embarrassing. This was vulnerable. I did not know what would happen next. She graciously looked at me, gave me a hug, and said, “I forgive you. I love you.” 

Now I have made mistakes and needed to be forgiven more times than I can count. But this one meant so much to me. She didn’t have to forgive at that moment. She had every right to be angry but she showed me mercy. 

 

A Taste of Grace

I tell this story to highlight the taste of grace I received from my mother-in-law that day. Yes, my mother-in-law is a saint, but more importantly, the same gift she offered that day is the same gift God offers us every day. 

Every day we make mistakes. And every day we are tempted to hide them. When our sin is exposed it leads to our shame. And while shame is such a powerful emotion which can lead to scrambling and hiding, because of the gospel, shame can also be a gift. Shame is an opportunity to run to God with our sin exposed and receive his grace, mercy, and forgiveness. 

Here are two verses that have been meaningful to me when I think about wanting to hide my sin and shame instead of running to the One who has borne our shame.

The one who conceals his sins will not prosper, but whoever confesses and renounces them will find mercy.  Proverbs 28:13

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.  I John 1:9

 

Having it all Together

I spend most of my life trying to act like I have it together. What if instead, when I mess up and my shame is exposed, I run to God? In his loving arms I receive grace, mercy, and forgiveness. This is when I receive the reminder of the gospel, that on the cross, Christ died for the penalty of my sin and shame. And he also credits to me his righteousness. Let me say it again, my sin is replaced with his righteousness. 

This is why shame can be a gift. Because the gospel means that I am both deeply flawed and deeply loved. At the same time.

My challenge to you and to myself everyday is to take our shame and use it as an opportunity to run to God who sees us, knows us, and loves us. I pray your shame can be a gift that leads to a deeper experience of his love for you. 

The Process of Grief

The Process of Grief

It hit me out of nowhere.

One minute I am joyfully planning my daughter’s first birthday party, and the next minute I am overwhelmed with different emotions. My shoulders are tense with anger, my gut feels hollow with anxiety, my body feels drained of all energy. I am starting to feel numb, and all I want to do is curl up on the couch, eat ice cream, and watch sports.

All motivation for party planning, and all of my other responsibilities, has disappeared. I feel worthless. And it hit me out of nowhere.

I know why. “Why” isn’t the problem. I am grieving because my mom died when I was young, and I want her to be here for my daughter’s first birthday. I want her to meet my daughter, to celebrate with me, to be proud of her first grandchild and to be proud of me. So I know the “why.”

The conversation about the party ends rather abruptly, and my wife knows something is up. We both know something is wrong, but I don’t want to talk about it. Why not? Because I should be over this. My mom died when I was a kid. I have been through years of counseling and already worked through this grief. I don’t feel that I should be grieving again, nor that this grief should ruin my ability to plan my daughter’s birthday.

Why am I rambling on about this? Why are you hearing some grief story from me? Because I don’t think my story is unique. I think many of us deal with grief on a day-to-day basis. Sure, your grief probably looks different than my example. Some of us are grieving the loss of a friendship, having an identity crisis, mourning the loss of a life stage, or hurting from a divorce.

Grief can look different for each of us, but we all grieve. And I would wager that we all get tired of the grieving process. It is the word “process” that I want you to remember. Grief is a process. 

This blog can’t talk about everything regarding grief, but let me make a few observations based on common questions.

What is grief?

The dictionary defines grief as “keen mental suffering or distress over affliction or loss; sharp sorrow; painful regret.” But I also love this quote from author and chaplain Kate Braestrup, who says, “Grief is just love squaring up to its oldest enemy.” Basically, grief is an intense emotional response to change. Often, the change makes a feel a sense of loss and the loss occurs because we have loved.

What can often be the difficult thing about grief is that we view it as a negative emotion that we shouldn’t experience. And if we do experience grief, then we expect grief to occur quickly, quietly, and for us to be over it without making a scene. But that’s not how grief works.

Grief is complex, and different stages of our life can bring fresh waves of grief crashing over us. One of the most important insights in my own life was when my counselor talked about each stage of my life bringing new and fresh pain to the grieving process. Let’s examine that further with our second question.

Why can’t I get over my grief?

Grief is a process. The five stages of grief as outlined by Elisabeth Kübler-Ross are: Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, and Acceptance.

Denial is where we suppress our feelings in order to survive. This denial is actually a grace to us because it allows us to  push down our emotions until we are able to handle them.

Anger is often thought of as something to be avoided, but actually, anger is a necessary stage of the healing process. Anger is often a secondary emotional response to loss, sadness, or fear so expressing our anger helps us in the journey to understanding our grief.

Bargaining is when we start to rationalize and make promises of what we will do instead of dealing with the pain and loss.

Depression sets in when the sadness feels overwhelming and hope is diminished. It is important to remember that these feelings are part of the grieving process and that they will not last forever.

Acceptance is not to be confused with being “ok” with what happened. Rather, this is about accepting the reality of what has occurred and that it is the new permanent reality.

With all these stages of grief, the point is to remember that grief is a process and that no one grieves exactly the same way as someone else. While there are many unhealthy ways of grieving (addiction, substance abuse, self-harm, etc.), we need to remember there is no one right way to grieve. Therefore, we can show grace both to ourselves and to others if we grieve differently. This understanding of grief has helped me see how each new stage of life brings a new stage of grieving.

Sometimes I’m not sad (though I think I should be) on certain occasions like Mother’s Day. And other times I am sad or angry when it hits me out of nowhere (like planning my daughter’s birthday). I hope this understanding of grief gives you freedom to know that grief isn’t something we get over, rather it is something we work through.

Is grieving wrong?

People often feel ashamed that they are grieving. After all, there are Bible verses that say “count it all joy” through various trials (James 1:2) and “be anxious for nothing” (Philippians 4:6). So, is grieving wrong?

Without getting into the details of those particular verses, it is important to look at the entire canon of Scripture when it comes to grief. When we do this, we see that many characters of the Bible experience grief, pain, loss, and suffering (look at Job, the prophets, or David for a few examples). In fact, many of the Psalms are meant to teach us how to grieve. We also see that each member of the Trinity expresses grief throughout Scripture.

Therefore, if examples of grief are found throughout Scripture, and we see that God can grieve, surely this gives us the ability to grieve without sin or shame. I realize that grief is difficult, can feel shameful, and is often frowned upon in our society, but I want you to hear that grieving is not a moral issue, and that God can handle your grief.

My own journey has taught me that God is able to handle my grief, and can take whatever I can throw at Him. Furthermore, I don’t need to feel guilty for not being sad when I think I should. Nor do I need to feel guilty when I am sad and I don’t think I should be.

God loves me and gives me grace wherever I am in the grieving process. This is still hard for me to accept, but every time my grief hits me it is a new opportunity for me to realize the love and grace of my heavenly Father, and to be reminded of the words of Jesus, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted” (Matthew 5:4).

What do I do with my grief?

Grief is part of what it means to be human. We experience grief as a result of the sin and brokenness of this world. There will come a day when we will no longer experience grief.

But while we wait for the day, we are not meant to experience our grief alone. God made us relational beings, to know and be known by others. Therefore, we need to process our grief with others. We see this in the Psalms. The Psalms give examples from others of how they processed their grief and poured their heart out to God. Hopefully, the Psalms can give you words to express your emotions both to God and others.

So please talk to someone! Here are a few suggestions:

  • Talk to a friend or loved one who is a safe person for you
  • Meet with your pastor
  • Meet with a counselor (your pastor can help you find one)
  • Attend GriefShare at our Leawood Campus
  • Above all, express your grief to God

While I do not know the complexities of your grief, there is One who does. Jesus knows your pain. Jesus came to suffer for you. Jesus died for you. And Jesus conquered the grave to assure us that one day every wrong will be made right and every tear will be wiped away (Rev 21:4).