November 21, 2013

Starts and Stops

Along my journey, I have heard 12 Steppers say, "It's easier to stay on than to get on."  The wagon, that is.  Recently, a friend of mine invited me to think about it differently, to consider that maturity is evinced by the willingness to get on over and over again.  Whether I jump off, fall off, or am pushed, when I find myself on the ground again, am I willing to catch up with the wagon, to ask the driver to stop for me if necessary, and clamber back on?

It's an act of humility.  In my strength of pride, I make promises that my future self has to fulfill.  "I will always, from now on..."  "I will never again..."  I incur a debt to my own future, a debt I sometimes find I do not have the means to pay.  The test of my character is what I do when the bill comes due.

I'm tempted by shame.  It's sometimes easier to resort to the old tapes, to collapse into long-held beliefs about myself and what I can't do.  "I'm just not...up to the task...worth it...enough."  If those stories are true, I can rest there.  I can quit without remorse.  It's not my fault.  Right?

It's considerably more difficult to decide to take up a new song, the song of I can.  It takes courage and often requires reinforcement from people who know me and love me, to stand up to the part of me that is satisfied with can't.  It's not enough to beat that part down.  That's just another way of singing the old song.  Instead, the courageous me has to embrace the old beliefs, bless them for the ways they tried to save me from my over-promising self, and invite them to take a well-deserved vacation.  They would rather stay behind the wagon.  Let them, in peace.

Then I can start again with a new lyric.  At first it comes out as questions:  Am I up to the task?  Could I be worth it?  What if I'm enough?  Then the leap of faith, the unconditional if improbable yes -- yes, I am, yes, I could be, yes.

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