by: Staci Stallings
First, full disclosure: This was not my original post this month.
There’s a reason I changed it, and this may or may not explain why.
I have learned one thing—my life is about learning about life. Some of it has to do with the writing. I’ve spent years trying to make sense of the lives that pass through my fingertips. You see, for a story to come to a satisfying conclusion, it needs to make some sense. You, the reader, need to understand what happened and why. If you don’t, reading is just about passing time, and in my view, reading and writing should always be about learning more about life than just the living it affords.
So, that’s what I’m doing here—learning about life. Except I never saw a lot of these lessons coming into my life until they were somehow here. I don’t consider myself particularly “science-y.” Although one of my strong suits is being exceptionally green (analytical, system-oriented, and wanting to understand), I really think of myself as being more blue (feeling-oriented, people-oriented). I just think those two personality types are wired in me so that I come at life from a very different angle than most people.
In many ways, I now see myself as a psychological engineer.
Engineering is about first understanding the thing being engineered, whether that be mechanical, structural, or electrical. It is then about using that knowledge to re-think and re-design how things work.
That’s what I find myself doing now about people. I study why people do what they do, how they do it, how they make choices, how those choice affect them and those around them and the world. Then, I use this knowledge to explain how we can do it better.
As I study this, God has been putting pieces into my life that I never realized. One of those is the life class I’m teaching sixth graders this year at my son’s school. This class has forced me to crystalize the lessons I’ve learned and am learning through my writing. I’ve tried to do some of that in my nonfiction writing, but being in front of a class that wants dialogue rather than a monologue has heightened my need to not only understand but also to find ways to explain what I understand to others.
Add to this a show my son has been fascinated with for a couple years now—The Flash. Although I’ve never been a huge fan of superhero shows, I find this one different. The main character isn’t just a guy who happens to have superpowers. In fact, his main “super power” is his unflagging belief that his team can and will handle anything, for the good of everyone involved, i.e. hope. The hoped-for outcome doesn’t always happen, but good always, always the goal. Go forward, toward good, no matter what.
In watching The Flash, I’ve realized how important the team you surround yourself with is, and how important your choices are to you and to them. You see, your choices both reflect who you are as well as determining who you are at the moment and who you will become. In fact, when you look at life like I am now, you realize that there really are no small, meaningless decisions. Every choice is a step in a direction. The question you have to ask yourself is: What direction is the choice I’m making taking me? Who does it say that I am?
I think that’s why I rewrote this post.
The previous post wasn’t the choice I wanted to make. It wasn’t who I wanted to be.
Oh, there’s a part of me that wanted to make that point, to get people to agree with me about it. But I see now, that’s not the direction I want to go. It’s not the me I want to be or become. I want to be hope every single step.
In this new way of thinking, God has graciously granted me a partner—my middle daughter, Kayla. She, too, is a psychological engineer. And together, we are learning some truly amazing things about life and God.
Like what it means to quit thinking linearly and to start using very outside-the-box thinking. What I realize is that I’ve been using this for a very long time—especially with my writing. I can’t think inside the box to write like I do. In fact, I can’t think about the “box” at all. I have to jump out of space and time in very real-to-me ways. That’s one reason writing is such a challenge—because when I write, I almost literally “go” somewhere “else.” Welcome to outside the box!
And so, I wonder as I sit here in January 2019 what stories will come through these fingers in the next year. I wonder how many others, maybe some I don’t even know right now, that will come on this journey with me. I feel like I’m on a different journey now, and I wonder who God has in store for me to meet, who will fill in gaps I don’t even see right now. All I know is that life suddenly seems very different than it did even three weeks ago.
So, hello, dear reader. Welcome to my new journey into a whole new way of thinking about everything! This should be interesting….
See the full line of Staci’s books at Author Central