We’ve passed that same spot every Tuesday night for nearing a year. But something about this evening compelled me to stop and take out my “big camera,” as friends have always dubbed it.
I had no idea at the time how much I needed that, but I did.
For the last – well a while, now – words have failed me.
My trusty hobby/habit/escape of writing has seemed impossible and not enough, all at the same time.
I’ve been wrestling with the ideas I’ve held dearest for all of my life, and that battle has left me exhausted, scarred and silent.
It’s not the first time this has happened to me, but it is definitely the longest drought I’ve had as a writer.
And it’s been hard on my soul, if I’m telling the truth (at the risk of sounding melodramatic, which I probably am).
Among the many thoughts weighing on me, is the pestering question, “How do I step forward in faith, when the mustard seed that grounded me as a child, has become the very thing holding me hostage as an adult."
I’m truly anchored by hope, but at a time when my heart’s desire is to set out to sea.
And so it’s hard to know how to grow, how to take the next steps,
how to become the person I believe I was designed to be,
when it goes against so much of who I was taught to be.
When I broke out the camera, I did so to capture the storm clouds rolling in. I’m so sick of the rain. Even the lakes are sick of the rain.
But for some mysterious reason, seeing the almost-rain, felt magical somehow.
The eerie shadow they cast on a field of grain…
The clouds created a haunting scene of wildflowers growing, and muddy trenches, and so many signs warning people to keep out.
I wanted to wade into the middle of it all, but decided not to get my shoes dirty.
I wanted to disobey those signs.
But instead I stayed safe, at the edge.
And I think that’s been my biggest problem all along.
I want to be safe, comfortable, and the “good girl” I was raised to be.
I don’t want to rebel. I don’t want to shirk tradition.
I want to fit in, and be liked.
I want to go with the flow. I don't want to ruffle feathers.
I certainly don't want to disappoint anyone, or feel rejected by the family of faith that was so essential to my childhood.
But the problem is, what was once safe and comfortable, has become soul-crushing, for me.
Because trying to stay in one place for so long, trying to grow - but only so much as seems acceptable to others - has stamped out the creativity and desires I have.
Instead of trusting myself, I’ve put my trust in others under the guise of believing I was putting my faith in God.
And that has created a horrible mess that I’ve been trying for years to unravel.
Which, I think, explains the frustration and the silence, but hardly makes clear where I must go from here.
So many clichés are running through my mind right now, which is probably a side effect of watching too much TV (and yes, spending way too much time on Pinterest).
“Bloom where you are planted.”
“A flower does not think of competing with the flower next to it. It just blooms.”
And my favorite, as of late, and the only one unrelated to flowers…
“A ship in harbor is safe, but that is not what ships are built for.”
That one resonates with everything in my head.
Those stupid rattling thoughts I can’t seem to let go of or sort out.
It’s not like I think I’m some special flower that needs an acre to bloom, or some crazy nonsense like that.
It’s not that I think faith, in and of itself, is stupid or foolish or naïve.
And it’s not even that I want to walk away from everything I’ve ever known and believed, and trusted, much less to run in the opposite direction.
It’s just that it makes me angry – and feel a little stupid - to realize how long I was worshiping not a mysterious, almighty Creator, but a boxed-in idol.
An idol that claimed to love me, while telling me everything about the way I was created was sinful and wrong.
An idol created by men who refused to do the frustrating work of true faith, which is dependent on leaving space for the mystery.
Real faith requires stepping out of comfort zones.
It means risking and failing.
And most of all, it means living. Really living.
Not hiding from the world, trying to stay safe.
I don't know much, but that can't be what we were made for, much less saved for... to simply survive.
Surely abundant life is bigger and better than that.
Surely true freedom is more radical than that.
So… why pictures? Why break out the “big camera?”
Wasn't that we were talking about?
In many ways, lately, photographs are speaking the thousand words I can’t seem to find.
They’re capturing the irony that is merely existing in a world with warning signs posted in fields of wildflowers.
I don’t know if anyone will relate to these rambling thoughts, or even these photos.
But if you do find yourself wanting to step out of your comfort zone, afraid to muddy your shoes…
Afraid you won’t find a path to walk if you take one too many steps off the road most travelled…
Just know that you’re not alone.
There are more of us than we think, standing at the edge weighing our options.
Wanting desperately to wade into the unknown, but afraid what it means for our futures.
And I think it's okay to be afraid. Princess Diaries taught me it wouldn't be courage without the fear.
But I can't let the fear control me.
Honestly, I don’t know what comes next or where exactly I’m supposed to go from here, only that I can’t spend the rest of my life wondering. Waiting. Stuck.
I’ve been on the sidelines long enough.
I have to step out, step forward.
I’ve been a good little girl long enough.
It’s time to grow with abandon.
Maybe what we some of us need most to hear, isn't to bloom wherever we were planted.
But to bloom where we are, now.