life on life

First things first – I haven’t been able to get anything on here all week. I wrote my next article to submit to Youth Specialties a couple days ago, but it could be several weeks before anyone sees that. The good news is that the senior video project is getting close to completion. My colleague in the high school ministry, with whom I work closely on this project each year, commented in an email today, “Wow, this whole thing feels pretty calm this year. Weird.” Indeed. I really do think my intentionality in setting my schedule up to totally unplug for digital Sabbath has yielded a great deal of peace this time around. I also pulled back on the number of unique items. The quality overall is just as high, as I would expect nothing less of myself, but I knew I couldn’t juggle that many workflows all at once. Sort of like a teacher that has too many different classes to teach; it’s easier to teach several sections of the same thing.

Yesterday Ben and I had lunch at what has become, hands-down, our favorite restaurant: Chipotle. While it’s easy to enjoy the consciously prepared delights to excess, I’ve been able to choose a combination of ingredients that is friendly to my eating plan. (Burrito Bol, no rice or beans, fajita veggies, steak or chicken, salsa(s), cheese and lettuce, sour cream on the side.)

I noticed something when Ben placed his order. It was remarkably similar to mine, although he had been choosing a full-on burrito with rice and all the goodies. A lot for a 12 year old to eat at once – he used to try really hard to eat as much as he could. I never criticized him, but he saw what I ate and that I never complain of being overly full. Yesterday he chose a Bol himself and commented on it being much less filling without the tortilla. He also chose a water instead of a Coke. He had given up pop for Lent and had really missed it, so I took notice that he declined it and joined me in my usual cup of water.

Simple choices, but I have to wonder how much he’s absorbed from our weekly time together. I’m pretty sure he signed up for summer camp and the mission trip in large part because of conversations we had. The more time we spend together, the more I notice him doing things that I suspect he wouldn’t do (positive things, mind you) except for my influence.

It’s an awesome responsibility, and an amazing privilege. While Ben’s situation is unique in that he is missing his dad like crazy in the 6 months since he passed away, I can’t forget that a lot of other kids are also watching my every move. I cannot make careless decisions. I am never anonymous. Whether it’s the way I react to stress or the choices I make with food and exercise, I am a role model no matter what I do. I strive to live life before the Audience of One, but there are so many others on the same stage looking to me for their cues.

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About andrew burden

andrew blogs about being a volunteer youth leader, teacher, video editor, husband, friend, child of God
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