Recently in a exercise class, arms wrapped unnaturally around my ankles, legs twitching from exertion, I listened intently to the instructor speak softly into her Madonna-esque headset microphone,
“Know your limits on this stretch. Listen to your truth levels.”
Well, being a reverent one for metaphors, I started pondering this idea with passion as I untangled myself from my Cirque de Soleil stance. It’s easy to feel the physical limits of the body, especially in my case as a very nonflexible person. But it’s not nearly as simple to examine your life and apply this same principle. What a huge help that would be to step into a situation or opportunity and be able to say, “Oh…not so sure about this…feels like a bit of a stretch…yup…too far…I’ll stop here.” Or it could be even more helpful in charging forward: “Wow…didn’t know I could extend that far…that actually feels pretty okay.”
This is especially true when God inserts the stirrings into our personal journeys. My own stirrings had come in the form of a transition in my entrepreneurial life of creativity. To be honest, I wasn’t really clear on where my truth levels were anymore. I realized the first step was figuring out what my current truths were: i.e., my family comes first, financial reward was necessary (but not in huge amounts), seven hours of sleep and daily exercise were imperative for a sane home life, friendships with other creative women were crucial to my well-being and productivity, and prayer and solitude were the keys to harmony and execution of creative ideas. It was interesting to take inventory on these truths and compare them to my truths from ten years ago. I was in a different “season”, for sure, but God was quietly tapping me on my shoulder every time I took time to really listen to the desires of my heart coupled with His mission for my life.
Missions are scary. They frequently come at very inconvenient times in our family and professional lives. For me, it’s familiar territory of leaning over Jesus’ lap as we cruising down the road, aggressively grabbing the steering wheel and wondering why we’re veering off into the trees. This is totally avoidable, but I find this habit hard to break, even though it’s dangerous and ridiculous. I probably spilled my coffee on Him in the process. It’s clear that I must try my best to be comfortable in the passenger seat…changing the radio station and opening and closing the window like a toddler. He is in control. I know this. I trust this most of the time, except for in the moments when I’m steering wheel grabbing. In this journey of trust, I have found one simple step to take for finding our truth levels.
Just show up.
Be where He asks you to be.
If He is whispering in your ear that you might be just the addition the church high school ministry needs, go to a meeting. You don’t even have to speak or make eye contact! If a career change idea seems to pop up at every turn, pay attention and find a person to talk to who does this job. If God is hinting to you that a certain friend is not a good influence on your life, have a “truth and love” conversation and be willing to let it go. Sometimes just showing up can reveal what the actual truths are for us and more importantly, for what God wants for us.
Psalm 32:8 “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you and watch over you.”
He makes this promise and he makes it boldly. He is God, after all, and sees the big picture from a much higher standpoint. In fact He makes the big picture, drawing us inside it with a big fat rainbow colored crayon. Although the circumstances may seem truly insane or ill-fitting for us, sometimes just showing up for the unexpected can yield a reward so great, we can’t imagine our life without it. All from taking baby steps toward something God has planted in our hearts.
I have done this more and more in my life (stepping out in faith, I mean). There have been times I literally held my hands in the air to Him as if to say, “Huh? This? You want me to do this?” One example involved teaching photography to women in my area. All of my studio-owning colleagues told me I was crazy to teach my competition in an industry where there was a photography studio born every other minute. It did seem like professional suicide in theory, but the requests were coming at me quickly and there were many times I felt God pushing me towards women who wanted to connect with me through learning the workings of their camera. Once I finally opened up a series of classes, I found a wonderful experience in helping women with a tool that helped them tell the story of their lives. The eyes of some of these moms of young children expressed a starvation for adult interaction surrounding a shared interest, as well as a sense of triumph over a skill that seemed so difficult when beginning. Squeals and hand-clapping—those are wonderful tell-tale signs of the “aha” experience and I was so privileged to assist in the revelation. Sure, there were women who went on to create businesses of their own, but I ironically found that the teaching/writing path was I was supposed to be anyway. Not only was I able to assist in helping women find a truth, however small, for themselves, He revealed something life-changing for me.
Two for one!
I really adore looking back on acts of showing up and seeing the big picture He has beautifully drawn with that fabulous crayon of His…sketching me into a sea of joy that I was meant for, but was too afraid to wade in. I’m swimming in it now, and the gratitude I feel just makes me want to help others show up in their own lives and see what unexpected goodness is in store for them.
Stretching for truth level connection…it might be uncomfortable, or even painful at times, but unexpected grace and blessing can seep into sore spiritual muscles and develop the character and story you’ve been longing for.
**Lara’s exhibit “Horse Girl” is coming up…more about it here.**