Valley of Mousetraps

I was blessed to participate in a staff retreat last week that was led by a beautiful, fun-loving, wise, discerning woman of God. We told her we wanted a day filled with bonding, fun and especially NO INTROSPECTION. Introspection seems to be what we do best here at House of Hope.  There is great value to it, and much fruit comes from it, but this was to be a day about expressing our joy and learning more about each other.


It started with breakfast at the House with birthday celebrations and then moved on to a park in Marion. When we arrived at the park and walked up to our facilitator for the day, I saw that she had set up a grid of mouse traps – all of them set. Hmmmm… This is not normally how we interact at House of Hope.

Our facilitator smiled at us and asked, “Are you ready for an adventure?”  We all looked at her and each other, laughing nervously.

“I love adventure!” Christina jumped in and answered. I myself was not so sure.  I’m all about having fun, but was I ready to jump straight into adventure?

When our facilitator divided us into two groups and explained that we had to cross to the other side, I was finally on board. Yes! A competition!  I looked at my teammates and knew we could win. I had completely missed the point that it was a team-building exercise. It was an exercise in practicing trusting each other. It was also a lesson on how God calls us to trust Him. As the facilitator asked the first participant on each team to cover their eyes and remove their shoes, I began to sweat.  Those traps were ready to SNAP on bare toes!

It was the responsibility of the rest of the team to direct our teammates verbally through the maze of potentially painful traps. As we began to tell the blindfolded staff members which way to move their feet, we used words like – pivot, shuffle, lift slowly, lower slowly, wait. It required very specific directional words of instruction. It required focused attention for both the participant and the directors. Suddenly our facilitator began to shout randomly. Watch out! Wow, that was close. Left! Right! Snap!  How were we supposed to focus with all of this distraction? She continued to change the rules as we each took a turn across the mouse trap maze. Walk backwards. You are not allowed to talk. She moved the traps directly in our path.

Do you see where I’m going with this?

God does not ask more of us than He is able to handle. Yep, you read that right. He does not ask more of us than HE is able to handle. On our own we cannot move across the mousetrap maze. We do not see clearly enough which direction is best. As I reflect on how I live each day, I wonder, do I live so dependent upon my Savior that I don’t move an inch until He tells me to “shuffle to the left and then wait for my next instruction,” or do I blindly move forward hoping I’m moving in the right direction? Do I believe that His plans for me mean that I have a trap-free life or do I understand that He is God and can change the rules in my life anytime He wants because it brings me to greater reliance on Him? Do I become distracted by all the noise in my day and lose focus on Him, or do I keep my heart directed toward Him so that He is all I hear in the chaos?

How grateful I am that I am not in charge of anyone else’s walk across life. I realized that is way too much pressure for me. I am not designed for that. How grateful I am that I am also not in charge of my own walk across life. When I forget that, and try to brave my own path, it gets me in trouble every time. There is joy and peace in the journey when I blindly follow Jesus and surrender to His direction! It is where my safety lies.

From the desk of Natalie Polzin, Director of Classes & Residency

From the desk of Natalie Polzin, Director of Classes & Residency

I learned to have fun with my co-workers last week and to have fun with Jesus as He gently instructs me to trust Him. I was reminded that He loves me so much that He walks through my mousetrap maze with me.   I guess I ended up being introspective after all.