“There are moments when nothing in the world seems more difficult, and yet you can’t imagine doing anything else.” – Rob Bell (How to be here)
I’d be kidding you if I said 2017 was one of my easiest, joy-filled years. But, so would I be if I said it was not my richest most ‘on track’ sort of a feeling year yet. It’s an interesting paradox, to have struggled so, yet to also feel strangely content and inspired at what it’s begun to bring about.
I guess I could place this sense within a particular context; when we make choices that are for our good, that indeed is an exciting step one. But, just as we are prepared to make these sorts of choices, we also must be prepared for what discomfort might follow. I think it’s a sort of “I know what I need, but I am aware it may clash with what I want in the meantime” – sort of a thing. (It gets better, don’t worry)
I chose, once my uni year ended, to allow myself to come to a full stop – at home, away from the city. To embrace quietness, and to subsequently feel what falling back instead of racing forwards feels like. After 10 years of working full time, with a change in career and embarking on full-time study thrown in, it became clear to me for various reasons, that a time of stopping was necessary.
But to do this, I had to sort of let go of a lot of the things that I thought were keeping me afloat. Things in the form of supposed expectations of how I should be performing and acting to keep up appearances with the world around me. I have found, my stopping didn’t exactly feel or look glamorous, yet simultaneously it felt ‘right.’
These sorts of choices we make in favor of our need, can feel a little like a letting go of a life-ring in the middle of the ocean. We strive to meet certain expectations because, they might be what we are used to being known and liked by. When we surrender what we have come to know as safety, we can’t expect it to also be partnered with a little pain and fear. It becomes a process of learning to loosen our grip on what has supposedly become our lifeline.
These expectations could be thought of on a big-picture scale, but also on a small daily scale too; perhaps it could be as simple as continuously putting other peoples needs above our own, rather than being equal to our own. I think we have to take care, when adhering to rigid expectations, that we don’t abandon our self in the process; this sort of attention is a form of self-care, not selfishness. Love and care for others, but please, not at the cost of leaving your beloved self behind in the dust.
To let go of who we desire to be known as, for the sake of what we need, is scary; what will happen when we are left to the whims of the waters? Do we think if we do test the water, that on our own, we won’t have the same sort of ability to stay afloat, as we would in sticking to expectations that may in actual fact, be damaging of our own well-being?
We might find that when we let go of the life-ring, it is not the expectations keeping us afloat, rather, it is simply our being, that has an innate ability to float – on its own. We might feel and notice something that goes much deeper as a result; Peace. Moreover, in our surrender of the life-ring, the very depths we were frantically trying to keep ourselves so safe from, may prove to be the very thing that keeps us floating – and flourishing at that.
So, I dare you to simply begin by first releasing the grip of one tired hand – to test the waters with nothing other than your very own self, as it is. I have faith that there, you might meet with something of the nature of God; something of his extraordinary divinity, that is actually full-set on keeping you, not discarding you; on not just keeping you afloat, but immersed in the richest of loves, and continually refreshed by his graces.
I think this is simply who he is; he is not held back by the wrong kinds of expectations as we may often be. While we seem to have a natural pull towards a tight grip on the life-ring, he has an innate and unswerving ability to be the water. Contrary to what we may have first believed – we can let go; we can trust the water.
In his gentle presence, might we find the courage to live brave – less phased by who we should be, and the freedom to simply be who we are.
“When fear comes knocking,
There you’ll be my guard
When day breeds trouble, there
You’ll hold my heart
Come storm or battle, God I know
Your peace will meet me there..”
Prince of Peace – Hillsong.