As a fast-paced, extremely relational/ high energy extrovert, I rarely experience quiet. It’s not just my relationship with time, although time seems at a premium with a busy ministry life, three active teenagers, and a job. I really can’t blame it on anyone or anything but my own natural, default rhythms and energy.
The older I get, however, the more I am challenging myself to grow. Guess what is always served on the side of growth? Discomfort. What a bummer.
I love the idea of changing and healing, growing and learning. To do these things, I need to shake hands with discomfort. Maybe embrace my inner introvert.
Professionally, I have the privilege of watching people move forward from stuck, reinvent the routes they habitually take, and become clear about who they are, and how they are becoming. I don’t want to do the same thing over and over, anticipating a different response, and the bravery and honesty of my clients challenges me to do the same.
Here’s where it got uncomfortable. My husband (and a generous family from PRC) “gifted” me with the gift of time and space. Solo. Alone. For three days tucked in a cozy home nestled at the base of Mt. Princeton in Buena Vista.
Did I mention By. Myself?
Oh believe me, I tried to not go alone. I tried to convince Jonathan to stay with me, or maybe one of the boys could have some mom:son 1 on 1 time? Or what about a friend that could accompany me?
Nope. Can’t. No. Three strikes, I’m all. by. myself.
I must be growing a little bit, because instead of calling ALL my friends to see who could join me I just packed a bag and went. You guys, even the drive was uncomfortable. No one to laugh with, sing to, notice the scenery with. 2.5 hours down, and 70.5 to go.
Armed with my hiking boots, guitar, journal and Bible, I leaned in. Leaned in to caring for myself with only the whisper of my soul back and forth to my God. Only caring about what I wanted to do, eat, experience with no input or opinions to balance from others.
So weird, but, so unexpectedly great.
It wasn’t without hitch. I found myself “orientation challenged” on a trail I thought I knew, and ended up hiking an EXTRA 9 miles. Let me tell you, Jesus and I had a lot of conversations on that trail. I felt small, I felt stupid, I felt like I should have stayed at the cozy home and maybe brought more water. And a granola bar or two. I sang to the birds, and let God guide my prayers for family, friends. No hurry–so much space. 9 extra miles of space to be exact.
I cannot explain the ways God met me in that quiet. Even in the somewhat painful spots. (Like on my heel that developed a crazy blister.) Taking a bath that night I reflected how strong I could be. Leaning on Christ alone. Because my default is looking to my left and the right for someone to help, someone to affirm, someone to be affirmed by.
There was no one there. But there was.
Isaiah 30:15 15
This is what the Sovereign Lord, the Holy One of Israel, says:
“In repentance and rest is your salvation,
in quietness and trust is your strength,
but you would have none of it.”
So I had some of it. All of it. Repentance (returning). Rest. Quietness. Trust. And then, strength.
Because of this “deep end” first experience, I can attest to my newfound stillness of the morning with my coffee and scripture and journal routine feels easier. Right. True. Not the antithesis of who I am, like before, but an intentional pause or reset.
I’d love to hear about how you have found pressing against some of your natural inclinations has provided growth for you spiritually, mentally or physically. Because the growth after the initial discomfort can be so life giving and hopeful.
Written by Becky Cleveland