What are you afraid of? Not the small, temporary things. I’m afraid of spiders, but that doesn’t alter the course of my life in any real or meaningful way (unless not being willing to go camping except in winter months is meaningful). I’m talking about the big things—unanticipated change, being alone and lonely, failure, rejection, uncertainty, catastrophe, getting hurt (physically or emotionally), being judged, being inadequate, loss of agency (physical or mental)—things that can paralyze us and hold us back in life.
Whatever your fears involve, living inside your comfort zone will guarantee you live a small life.
Unless you just joined us, by now you know I love bison. They are fascinating creatures with some really cool characteristics. Bison are members of the subfamily Bovinae which includes cattle and actual buffalo (bison are not buffalo). One of the interesting things about bison behavior occurs leading up to and during a storm. Unlike cattle, who turn away from a storm and head in the opposite direction, bison gather the herd and turn into the storm. Whereas cattle are driven by the storm and have little determination about where they are taken, bison choose their path and who they will face the storm with and, therefore, find their way through the storm sooner and safer.
People are naturally afraid of the big scary things in life. That doesn’t change just because they come to work. The things they fear in their personal lives do not wait patiently outside the building while they go about their responsibilities in peace. Their fears follow them to work and sit with them. Sometimes the things they are afraid of are at work—rejection, loss, failure, change, uncertainty. These things cannot be completely eradicated from even the most supportive and caring environment.
If the things we are afraid of can’t be eliminated, then what are we to do? The bison would have a tough time finding a place to live where there were never any storms. Since they can’t eliminate the storm, they have a plan for how to get through it. A plan that involves community and faith. We too can have a plan to get through the storms of life, and our plan needs to involve our community, herd if you will, and faith.
Bison instinctively know that life is better in community. In fact, you can’t keep a single bison contained. Weighing at least 2,000 pounds and with the ability to jump over a 6 foot fence from a standing position, the bison can leave if they really want to. However, if there are many bison, they will happily stay. So, it isn’t just when the storm comes that the bison find their community; that is the way they are living all the time. Looking out for each other, protecting the weak or sick, just doing life together.
When the storm comes, there is no question who they will be beside as they turn into the storm. They will be beside the same individuals they have been doing life with. So often, we have isolated ourselves when things are reasonably “safe” and then have no idea who to gather around us when a storm comes. We need to be the ones who create community when the sun is shining so we will have people around us when the clouds roll in.
I don’t know the mind of a bison, but their actions look like faith. Faith is trust or confidence in someone or something. When the bison gather the herd and turn into the storm, they are demonstrating that they believe they are safer in community and that there is an end to the storm and the shortest way to that end is to move toward it.
Everyone has faith. Faith is demonstrated every time we use something or do something we don’t have a complete understanding of. Most people don’t actually know how planes work, yet they get on, trusting the design of the plane, the people that built it and maintained it, and the crew that is flying it—faith. Most people don’t understand their physiology or have a medical education, yet they go to doctors, follow their doctor’s advice, and take the medicines prescribed to them—faith. I could go on and on. We all demonstrate faith every day.
Do we have faith in our community? Do our leaders act in ways that inspire us to trust them? Do they act in our best interest, not sometimes, not when it is convenient, but every time? Do the other people in our community treat us with respect and care? Do they show up when they are needed? Blind faith isn’t faith; it’s foolishness. Faith in things and people that have demonstrated their trustworthiness is true faith.
Once during Jesus’s life, his friends were taking him across the sea of Galilee in a boat. Jesus was asleep in the back of the boat, and during the trip a strong storm came up. The waves were so high they were washing into the boat and threatening to sink it. The other men in the boat were afraid. No one was ready to die.
So, they woke Jesus up and, in their fear, asked him if he cared if they all drowned. Jesus got up and spoke to the wind and the waves, telling them to calm down. They did. Now his friends were really afraid, no longer of the wind and waves, but now of the power they had just witnessed. Jesus asked them why they were afraid, then he asked, “Do you still have no faith?” They had seen him do some pretty amazing things, and they should have realized he was good to go in this situation.
Ultimately, I hope you put your faith in God as he is the only one who is good to go for every situation. However, one of the main ways he provides for us is through community. As leaders, it is our responsibility to nurture a culture that leads people to have faith in each other and be willing to stand together and turn into life’s storms. We can’t stop the storms from coming, but rather than being driven alone by them, we can move through them together, and that is The Kimray Way.