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Learning to Leap

Learning to Leap

Courage

Julia Foote believed in a dream.  Literally, a dream.  One apparently induced by fever.  Her dream was that God had told her to preach.  In mid-19th century America, this was a pretty outlandish claim.  Women weren’t preachers.  The obvious thing happened.  She woke up from her fevered dream, told her friends, husband and pastor about it and was promptly reminded that it she was delirious.

In a wonderful post over at SheLoves Magazine, Joy Howard tells the story of Julia and her band of sisters, the ones who supported her through and through, believing her crazy story and urging her forward.  They became a “hallelujah chorus,” the people saying “I believe in you.  You can do this.”

Oh, how we need those people around us.  Friends, if you do not have those people in your lives, get them—and fast. 

But there is another thing at work here and it’s some mysterious blend of faith and inner resolve.  In people who succeed at wildly improbable things, there is a common ability to take risk.  They do it not because they believe that they can’t fail but because they don’t see failure as the end. 

In educational theory, it’s called it a “growth mindset.”  People who have a growth mindset believe that they grow and change.  This is harder than it sounds, especially for adults who tend to get stuck believing we’re done being made.  It’s easy for us to see that a child must fall in order to walk.  It’s hard to apply that to our own adult falls, no matter how many quotes about courage we read. 

The other day, a friend of mine described an ache in her gut, the desire to live her life differently.  “It’s just that I realized I’ve been living a pretty safe life,” she said.  This is, of course, the dilemma for almost everyone.  We feel a tug towards something more but we are afraid to fail so we choose safety. 

We don’t just look before we leap, we study the fall.  We focus on the bottom, make sure we have a plan, a back-up plan and a soft landing place.  By the time we’ve done all that, we’ve forgotten why we were making the jump in the first place—suddenly, the other side doesn’t even seem like the goal.  We’ve become convinced that avoiding failure, not achieving success, was the goal all along.  And of course, the easiest way to avoid failure is not to make the leap in the first place.

We have to learn to leap.       

If we make our lives primarily about safety, we will spend all of our time analyzing, strategizing, dreaming and never really doing.  Plans, goals and hopes only take us so far.  At some point, we have to take a risk.

Here is a comfort, though: God is too big to fail.   You might fail.  You might will make a mistake somewhere along the way.  Things will probably be harder and take longer than you thought.  But even then, God will go on, probably even weaving your mistakes into some beautiful new tapestry that was bigger and better than you’d imagined. 

I don’t know what dream is on your heart, what hope is waiting to be born in you.  But I do know that when we act with love, we act with God.  And there is no act of love that is too small (or too big) for God to use. 

So go ahead.  Love deeply.  Live deeply.  Grab hold of a dream and see where it takes you.

God is not impressed with you

God is not impressed with you

God is not impressed with you. Not with your resume or your to-do list or your calendar.

Now wait. Before you click to another page, hear me out.

God is not impressed with you and really, that’s liberating. We spend so much time trying to impress people. At work when our actual very livelihood depends on being impressive. At home, when the neighbor pops in and we scurry to clean out house. During the holidays when we strive to take the best dish (or at least a really good one) to the family gathering.

It’s easy to let that leech over into our spiritual life too. We want to feel love, peace and security and we think the way to do that is to impress God. If God would just notice us. So we’re always striving. Striving to pray more or pray better. Striving to do good. Striving to feel God.

What’s worse, is that it’s such a part of our lives, we don’t even realize we’re doing it. A vicious cycle begins. We try to be impressive  nothing happens  we try harder  nothing happens  we feel discouraged and empty and are sure that we’re lacking somehow. So we try again.

Instead of all that, let’s try this. Say it to yourself. God is not impressed with me. God loves me.

See, what we’re crowding out with all our trying and our impressiveness is the ability to just be loved for who we are. When we feel love, we feel peace and security. And when those things come, the other things will come too. We will pray. We will do good in the world. We will feel God’s presence. But we’ll do all that out of fullness and gratitude instead of emptiness and insecurity.

Loving God, work around whatever insecurity is keeping me from you. Assure me that I am lovable in my unimpressive state. May I feel your peace today.

Practice: Take your to-do list, calendar or resume and find a quiet place to sit. Imagine what it would be like to completely let go of everything. How would it feel if none of it mattered? Frightening? Freeing? Journal about those feelings.

Want more? Check out Paul’s letter to the Phillipians. When Paul says, “I count it all lost for Christ,” hear it as Paul’s assurance that God was never impressed with him. Paul could take huge risks and change his very life in spite of all he had, not because of it.