Monday, September 26, 2016

Bravely Scheduled Spontaneity

A good friend recently invited me to an event for women. It was a gathering of sorts where women gather together to encourage one another in every phase of life. The group is based on a blog and on the surface these women have little in common other than they are women. Some are parents, some aren’t. Some are in their 60’s and some barely in their 20’s. But united as women and finding ways to encourage rather than judge or be jealous. A great thought indeed. However, as I walked into the hotel lobby where it was being hosted, my introverted self began to hyperventilate; this wasn’t what I was expecting. Apparently it wasn’t a “sit down and listen to someone” as they speak and encourage you. It was a sit around tables in groups and get to know one another. Not my cup of tea. I would have to initiate conversations with strangers. The horror!

I really don’t like those types of events. Like, really. For example, in church when I know they are about to say, “Turn around and greet one another” I suddenly have to go pee. Just being real folks. I don’t like meeting strangers.  I started thinking;

“I am going to have to talk to these women who I have nothing in common with.”
 “My makeup isn’t done right and my hair is a mess.”
“She looks like a Target ad…perfectly put together.”
“I bet she never worries about paying bills or cooking dinner.”

Clearly logic is not my strong point when facing fears. I just wanted to hide. Fear is my strongest love language. It controls me more than anything else. (See various other posts on this.) But this time, I chose not to listen to that fear. After recently going through a bible study with my best friend, I remembered that fear is not healthy and while a normal emotion, shows my lack of faith. So I thought, this is a small adventure of meeting women who could be just as nervous as I am. Surely they won’t point at my messy hair or laugh to my face. I took in a breath, reminded myself to be calm and chose to talk, share and be present. Surprisingly, they were nice women. No claws came out. No judging stares. Maybe, I was wrong. (Shocking, I know.)

While there, we had to ask each other questions at our individual tables. One of the questions asked was, “What makes you brave?” My first thought was, “I am not brave.” Look at me right now, terrified. Fear gripped me the moment I walked in here. I am not brave at all.

But I looked at my friend who was there, whom I love dearly, and I thought – she will say I am brave. In fact, I have a lovely crafted wall hanging in my office that she gave me that says, “You make me brave.” Me? Really? And while it was only a few moments, these memories came flooding back of times I was brave. Not always by choice. But I have been brave. I have chosen adventure over fear before. I can do this.

I think sometimes it’s easy to get overwhelmed with the current situations in life and feel there is no way we will get through our problems. Yet, if we look back, I am sure all of us can find times that we were brave. When we chose to do the difficult thing rather than settle for a life we don’t want. Or when we chose to get up when we really just wanted to crawl back into bed for days. I remember friends telling me I was brave when I chose to leave everyone I knew, my job, my church and even my comfort zone to start a new life two states away. I was so scared at the time. If you would have asked me if I felt brave or adventurous, I would have screamed no. It was just what I had to do.

I am very much a scheduled, make a plan, and keep a routine kind of person. The older I get the more this becomes true. On our vacations, I make a plan for each day. Even a day to be “spontaneous” is scheduled. Yes, I hear the insanity in that statement, but it’s true. Pray for my husband y’all – he chose to love me forever, before he knew this about me. Don’t get me wrong. I love adventure and exploring! However, it has to fit my schedule and plans. I don’t deal well with change and when my plans get derailed, it causes all kinds of emotional turmoil. I need structure and order to function. But God has a sense of humor and life doesn’t always agree with me and rarely works that way.

When I walked into that hotel lobby full of beautiful women with my friend, I could have left in fear. I could have shut down, sat quietly and smiled nicely. But I chose to face my fear and just enjoy the adventure that moment had to offer. I not only survived, but I enjoyed myself. I met some very nice ladies and was encouraged when I left. That is the surprising joy in those derailing moments of life. Those times when all of a sudden your plans and life change – we can succumb to the fear and wallow in depression or we can face it and grow in that moment. There is always joy to be found. We all need a little routine and structure (some of us need it in buckets) but we also need adventure that challenges us and stretches us beyond ourselves. The same friend who invited me to that event, sent me a link to a blog that made her think of me. I wanted to share an excerpt here. Please visit Lisa’s Blog – she is a beautifully talented writer and wrote this:
“Routine helps us get up when the alarm goes off and lace up our running shoes. Routine enables us to keep the fridge full of groceries and the car full of gas. Routine provides a perfect environment for homework and home cooked meals. But we also need to break from routine. We need to throw the schedule out the window. We need to build a fort in the living room and not clean it up. We need to order pizza on a school night and leave dirty dishes in the sink. We plan a spur of the moment getaway. When we break from the routine we set off on an adventure.
Routine keeps us stable, adventure makes us flexible.
Routine makes us strong, adventure makes us brave.
Routine gives us discipline, adventure gives us boldness.
Routine depends on logic, adventure depends on imagination.
Routine makes the most of everyday. Adventure makes the most of life.
And at the end of the day adventure reassures us, saying, “Don’t worry if you fail. It was just an adventure after all.”
I love that. My goal is to remember that the next time fear raises it’s head. No matter how large or small. It is just an adventure. It will pass and I will grow because of it.