Systems Analysis

20 Mar

A couple of years ago, in a rare and bizarre coincidence, my husband and I were both randomly selected for the more intensive security screening at an international airport in the States. We were immediately whisked out of line and escorted to a confined area away from all the other passengers (lest we abuse any nano-second of freedom by subtly emptying our body cavities of firearms and explosives and secretly passing said hazards to someone else in line).

The inconvenience of this random screening wasn’t a big deal. We recognized that these precautions were actually for our benefit, and we appreciated the security measures that afforded us the luxury of travelling in safety. The invasiveness of the procedure wasn’t outrageous either. We got to choose between the x-ray cameras or the intimate pat-down. My pat-down was conducted by a female officer who was very professional and polite and we chatted amicably through the whole process.

The system was there for our protection, we appreciated it, and by and large, it worked well. Except for one notable failure: four of the other passengers from whom we were immediately whisked away were our children, aged 12, 12, 10 and 4.

In the interest of national security, we were not allowed to approach them, touch them, reassure them, or answer their questions as we were pulled aside and they were carried away with the flow of the crowd. The best I could do was to holler, “Stay together and catch up with the Campbells!” Thank God we were travelling with another family who had passed through security shortly before us!

In that moment, my family was wronged by a flaw in the system. Our children should have been allowed to stay where we could see them. Or an extra security person should have been summoned to accompany them. Or we could have at least been offered a supervised moment to give them some further instructions before they were engulfed into the bowels of an international airport.

In that moment, I could have fought back. I would have had reasonable cause to kick up a fuss. I could have made the news and gotten all of North America on my side.

I didn’t. I met our most immediate need by calling out to them, while still making it clear that I was complying with security. I did what I had to do to make the procedure go as smoothly as possible so I could catch up with my kids as quickly as possible.

It all worked out just fine. (Eventually. After the scissors were confiscated from my daughter’s pencil case. And there was a small situation regarding a card game in my carry-on that one security officer thought was a can of tuna, which while perfectly legal, was suspicious to him and resulted in a loud, confusing confrontation. But that’s another story.) We were cleared, reunited with our kids and friends, and the rest of our trip was uneventful.

I am currently in the middle of navigating another system that has me a bit baffled. Again, I know it’s there for our protection – and that includes me. The people who implemented and maintain this system have good intentions. It’s just tricky to comply when it doesn’t fully make sense to me and my personal needs.

I have recently stumbled into the world of entrepreneurship and launched my own line of essential oils and products. Health Canada (the counterpart to the FDA) has strict rules about what I can and cannot claim in web or print materials. I cannot ascribe in writing any medicinal properties or benefits to alternative health care products. I can describe my products in terms of “wellness” and “balance”, but I cannot claim that they will heal or correct medical ailments.

For example, I am legally not allowed to state that product x relieves headaches. That would be a medical claim. I can, however, state that product x may promote stability in cranial pressure. See the difference there?

Given the context of this specific example, it’s not too difficult to discern what product x is for. However, facing a whole page of product descriptions, one would be hard-pressed to be able to translate all the gobbledy-gook in order to figure out what I’m actually selling. Not to mention the fact that I can only fit so many words on a label. “This alternative health care product is a proprietary blend of essential oils which may be used internally to restore the delicate balance of yeasts and bacteria in your girly bits” takes up way more space than “Yeast Infection Remedy”. But I can’t just say “Yeast Infection Remedy”. A yeast infection is a medical ailment and a remedy is what cures it. That’s illegal.

So that’s another system. Rules that aren’t easy or convenient or self-explanatory. But it’s a system that is for my own good, so I’m working to make sure I comply with it.

There’s one more system that I’d like to draw your attention to. It’s for our good – our very best, in fact – but sometimes it’s hard to navigate. Sometimes it’s frustrating. It feels so constrictive and confusing and archaic.

It’s the way of life that God outlines for us in His Word. The Bible sets a high standard for us, forbidding all kinds of things that today’s culture condones. Promiscuity, immodesty, witchcraft, abortion, foul language… The list goes on. It’s a veritable smorgasbord of tasty morsels that we feel we have a right to pursue.

But friends, those restrictions aren’t in place so our annoyance can be entertainment for a dictator God. They’re there to provide a safe framework in which we can enjoy life more fully, more abundantly, more intimately with each other and with a loving, Creator God.

The difference between God’s system and airport security or Health Canada is that the One who created and maintains God’s system is perfect. He doesn’t have to upgrade or amend His system. He doesn’t need to write new policies. He isn’t derailed by cultural shifts or terrorist attacks or any other kind of interruption. His system doesn’t fail.

Instead of futilely searching for flaws and flaunting our rights and fabricating excuses, our time is better spent learning how we can best function within the perfect system. If something seems like an inconvenience or an outdated rule, figure out why it’s worth conforming to.

And now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to go rename my products that may encourage restful sleep and may promote healthy digestion and may stimulate cell regeneration.

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Posted by on March 20, 2014 in Family, God, Personal Growth


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