Here. On the other end of my interweb tether, coming back after not feeling compelled to write for quite sometime. It’s not that I didn’t have anything to say, but that life was making the things I had to say too hard, or sad, or seem very small and unimportant. And so I went away and found a puzzle piece to pick up and came back to tell you about it.I went on a Christian women’s retreat called Jumping Tandem. A retreat I had been super excited for when I signed up with a friend months ago. A retreat that I was anticipating reading books and blogs and studying up for. I wanted to be prepared, I wanted to be ready to soak up and take in and change. Then life changed my focus.
I found out my father has liver cancer. I found out the life I was imagining as an infinite timeline had a definitive end looming. I found out that it is not an easy task to prepare for something so heart breaking. I found out that one diagnosis can so shift your focus that everything else you are doing and feeling is a blur. So, I didn’t study up, I barely looked at the material Jumping Tandem offered to prepare myself for what was coming. I just went and trusted that I could figure it out once I got there. Preparation for one more thing seemed like too much.
I got in the car Friday morning and began the drive East to Ashland, Nebraska. It was only then, with the immediacy of Jumping Tandem upon me, that I switched my focus to where I was going and what I was doing. It was only then that I was in the moment, that I am here became true.
My friend and I talked about 1000 things through Colorado and Nebraska. (including my dad) We planned for the future; the next few hours, the next few days, and the next years to come. In our task of getting to Jumping Tandem – the place we would explore our God-sized dreams – we began to sort them out and focus on the big ‘what will come’ for each of us. I went into my weekend thinking I hadn’t come prepared enough to get anything out of it, and in the course of just showing up God made sure I brought something home.
I found myself in a not unexpected place this weekend. I am by nature an introvert, I am painfully shy, I hate speaking in public or in groups (even small ones), I find it incredibly difficult to meet new people and develop even a simple conversation with them. I tell my friends (who have all done the work of getting to know me) that my brain is missing the ‘small talk’ area. Normally in conversation there is a give and take and people who are asked a question answer and then respond with a question. I, however, answer and then miss the ‘ask a question’ cue. I remember it hours later when I realize I could’ve made a 2 minute conversation into a 10 minute conversation simply by repeating their questions to me. I occasionally have the ‘ask a question cue’ close enough to my awareness to make it happen, but it is a struggle and most often I am the dead-air girl. I am stunted, it’s a thing.
So, on a retreat where I could have made lots of new friends, I went with a comfortable friend who I had tons of awesome conversations with and had several 2 minute conversations with strangers. That’s totally normal for me and was completely expected. But, fear not, the retreat was not a loss on this girl, because even though I don’t connect with new people well I am an excellent student!
I took a bazillion notes. I worked through stuff in my own introvert way, and I came home with my God clearly in my heart saying things like:
“Hello! You circle around this same idea for a reason! Your dream is where your passion meets my need.”
“I told you other people feel that way too.”
In my sessions, with speakers the non-studied-up me was clueless about, I heard my own voice from those daringly brave women who spoke and spoke up. In voices saying they were scared, they were unsure, they were lost and confused. These women who just wanted to know what God had planned, just wanted to be willing, wanted to be used by Him, to love on others, to encourage and support, to ask questions, to say the hard stuff, to dig in, open up…they all had pieces of me. It was amazing.
I came home knowing I don’t have to have all the answers -and that there would be plenty of times that fact alone will make me crazy. I came home knowing I don’t need the big picture but just the willingness to pick up my puzzle piece and take the first step with God. I came home knowing that allowing yourself to feel the hard emotions is OK – and that I will struggle with letting it be OK every time I need to cry and say I’m scared or I need help. I came home knowing bravery looks different on everyone -and that everyone is brave just by opening their mouths and sharing their dreams with another person. I came home thankful to have gone, for being in the moment, and to have deepened the friendship I carried with me through it. I came home still afraid (because fear never really goes away) but trusting that I will be OK through whatever is to come. I came home looking up.
I am here.