The 5 R's

The 5 R's are a framework for living the Elijah Project.  Below is my journey with the 5 R's:  Realize, Reflect, Recognize, Rest and Re-Engage, Summer 2017.

Realize -It all started during roses and thorns.  I began to share the thorns of my day… the ugly of my job.  As I began to rattle off the horrific details of a day in the life of my job, I watched my kids faces fall and my husband gave me the “cut” sign.  I stopped talking and peered at crest fallen expressions.  “Wow Mom, you have a hard job.”  I walked away realizing that I had passed my emotional threshold and was leaking negativity.  Within days of that incident, we began to drive to the pacific northwest.  We woke at 3:45 a.m..  My husband drove until the other side of Minneapolis.  Then he handed me the keys and I continued to drive.  The car was quiet and the terrain was flat.  The drive through North Dakota was flat and boring.  I began to visual my feeling doll.  The colors, the words, and the expression.  I realized I was wound tighter than a drum.  I was irritable.  I was emotionally exhausted.  I was sad and frustrated and tired.  I had pushed past my personal threshold of disorganization.  My need for order, control and stability had gone unmet for months.  This trip represented the opporutnity for new direction, a breath of fresh air, and the promise of a new vision.  There was also the distinct possibility nothing might change and this feeling of disorder, death and dissipation would persist afterthe trip.

I resonate with Elijah.  Taking a step of obedience to prophesize to the King and yet going out to the wildnersness for 3 years waiting for his next direction.  Waiting for a conclusion to his task.  If he only knew!


Reflect - While we drove away from our mountain parking spot, I wrote pages of notes in my journal.  I watched as desolate countryside sped by.  I pondered how I had found myself here.  Not literally on this highway in North Dakota, but how had I ended up in this emotional mess.  Why was I acting like I was being pursued by the evil Queen Jezebel?  How had I lost my perspective from under the broomtree?  I peered out the windshield.  There was not a car in sight.  Slowly the wilderness trasformed into buttes, platues, streams and valleys.  As the landscape changed, so did my countenance.  Even though my driving position often left my shoulders tense, the weight I was carrying began to fall away.   This car ride provided an important opportunity for me to reflect my myriad of feelings.

Reconcile - I didn't want to go on this vacation.  It would have been in our family's best interest if I had stayed home and worked.  It also was in my client's best interest if I had booked appointments this week.  My husband and I had talked.  We had reflected on our family finances and weighed the importance of a family vacation the summer before our son's Sr. year in High School.  This car trip was my step toward reconciliation.  There were many things that were out of my control:  the passing of time, the stress of my work, and our heavy financial obligations.  The one thing I could do was stop and take a vacation.

God gave me an experience that provided prospective beyond comprehension.  Once in the Pacific Northwest, we ventured on a family hike to an overlook of Mt. Hoods summit.  While trudging through the dense pine grove we heard an incredible noise.  It was a high pitched squalking that sounded like two birds were fighting over head.  Concentrating on my footing, stepping over stumps and tree roots I was focused on the ground.  But the noise grew more intense and the all encompassing noise of the birds wings, startled my focus.  I peered up.  Just over head two enormous jet black birds swooped toward each other, foraging in mid air.  The Squalked and  grabbed at each others beaks.  Their wingspan brushed against the dense pine needles causing a great commotion.  As I watched the ravens chaoticly communicate mid air, I had a new perspective on Elijah’s feathery butlers.  The birds were not gentle, supportive or calming.  Instead they were overwhelming, there was no missing them.  Their wingspan was formidable almost blackening the sky overhead.  And their disturbing caws would have been unsettling.

Rest - I grew up summering on the Maine coast.  Its called the rocky coast because sheer cliffs literally drop into the sea.  Because of these experiences, I felt like an authority on mountains.  I felt like I understood mountainous terrain.  My expertise was challenged when we visited the Pacific Northwest.  My concept of a mountain changed after I witnessed the Grand Tetons in Wyoming.  The mountains had a life of their own, reflecting purple and gold as the sun bounced off their peeks.  Every mile we drove the landscape had a new hue.  Every snapshot  a brand new perspective of the same place.  The Grand Tetons gave pause to my life journey.  Each hour, day, month and year that I know Jesus my perspective changes.  As the miles passed the great caverns were gone, the enourmous mountain ranges evened out and the stone formations changed.  As I gazed into the sides of the rocks I saw naturally carved caverns.  The image brought new meaning to the expression "cleft in the rock."  I believe these caverns are like the cave Elijah rested in on Mount Horeb.  Elijah hid in a cave before the Lord passed by.  This mental picture of God carving out a little spot for me brought me hope.  He would find me in the cleft of the rock.

Re-Engage - As we drove through Montana we crossed the state line into North Dakota.  The beautiful rock formations continued to border the road.  The scenic miles still felt far away from real life.  After we passed Theodore Roosevelt State Park, the landscape changed.  The scenery turned desolate again.  As we drove, the barren roadside changed to city scape.  And just like that I was home.  The faraway feeling made way to familiar thoughts...  organizing, to do lists and prioritizing.  God had granted me time to relax - realize, reflect, reconcile and rest.   Now I was invited to re-engage with my everyday life.  I had an opportunity to reconcile my reflections and re-engage my family life with my work life.  The process was tirelessly tedious and beautifully hopeful.  God's desire is that we learn, grow and change.  He is invested in our well-being.  He wants us to take what we learn and share it.  The only way to share it, is if I leave the isolation of vacation and return to my ordinary life.  

Andrea Polnaszek