“I don’t like doing anything that I am not good at” or Get out of your comfort zone

 

 

Stood in front of the mirror, fresh from the shower, I had a few minutes to myself before I ventured out into the corridor again. On a winter trip with a few of the teens from my church I decided this was the year I was going to snowboard.

Pretty sure I made it up the KIDDIE hill (or Barnbacken på svenska)…oh, once.

I never thought I’d want to declare war on a tow-lift but alas even getting up the hill on that evil contraption was about as fear-inducing as going down, fast, while my feet were glued to a board.

So there I was, a few hours later, completely covered in bruises and feeling…amazing. Yet something I said to my friend B who was teaching me to board, run in my head…

“I don’t like doing anything that I am not good at.”

A few nights ago I was out with some friends for a movie when, prior to the movie, we were chatting and my Swedish skills were put to the test. One guy said to me, “Michelle, you need to get out of your comfort zone.”

You see, I can speak Swedish…and I understand so much, but I don’t speak it a lot with my friends. Why you ask?

 “I don’t like doing anything that I am not good at.”

Recently I started running again. I’m still thinking I’m going to sign up to another ½ marathon but for now, it’s just for me. I’m on day 26 of my 365 running challenge now. The first few days were a struggle. Not because of my fitness levels, but because I was pretty sure I looked ridiculous running. Have you seen those images on the internet? Those “What I think I look like when I’m running” vs “what I really look like.” One image usually involves a bikini clad super model and the other a slobbering hound.

Truth is, I don’t look like either of those but it’s amazing what our minds trick us into.

I’m in the middle of what I call my “life break”. It’s actually not a break from life, you can’t take a break from life but you can have a season where things change, where you break away from the norm, where you refocus and redirect. This is the season of life I am in.

It’s a season where I am constantly having to get out of my comfort zone. You see, I have a LOT of dreams and ambitions for life and frankly, prior to August 22 I was living a great life but I was also smack RIGHT in the middle of the comfort zone.

And with all the respect to my old life, which, to many, and even to me, was fantastic…it sucked.

I had become too reliant on norms, comforts and myself.

I was lounging in the comfort zone.

So, being…well me…as you all know I changed my life drastically and with only one focus to ensure I kept running my race well and towards the ultimate goal (Jesus, if you didn’t know). I want all of my life to focus on Him, bringing glory to Him and showing others His love and grace.

I figured if I’m running to Him then everything else will fall into place.

What I have learned though is that following Him has taken me so far out of my comfort zone that I am pretty much constantly uncomfortable.

 

Going to church…

Uncomfortable.

 

Going to school…

Uncomfortable…

 

Writing for Beyond Rubies and SoWorthLoving…

Uncomfortable…

 

Just all…uncomfortable. Although they are seemingly normal and mundane things to one person there are aspects that make all these things uncomfortable to me. There are aspects to each of these things that I am not good at.

“I don’t like doing anything that I am not good at.”

I know I have been called to a certain life, to accomplish particular things and this season in my life is preparing me for that.

But I think the greatest lesson I have learned is that it’s okay to just not be good at something.

I read this great quote…

As Christians we are called to live in excellence, to do all things for God and not for man.

So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.  1 Corinthians 10:31

And He is going to help us along…

I can do all this through him who gives me strength. Philippians 4:13

So what I am trying to say is this…

Get out of your comfort zone. Don’t step, don’t tip toe…JUMP. He has given you everything you need to accomplish all that He has put on your heart.

 

Start today. Whether it’s writing a book or getting healthy. If it’s asking that girl out or talking to your neighbor who just needs a friend.

 

Do something that you are not good at.

Do something that scares you because you really never know what will come from it or whose life you will impact.

 

I got a letter after I wrote a particularly “scary” post on SWL. Without sharing someone else’s story the letter detailed how the post helped someone through a break up. The truth? I hated writing that post. I cried writing it. I didn’t want to share it because I knew that it might get a couple people angry (if they misunderstood my intentions), it was uncomfortable.

However, as I read the words of one girl knowing that she was worth more than rubies all the uncomfortable feelings I had left me and I realized that although I didn’t like doing it…it impacted someone.

So maybe snowboarding or speaking Swedish perfectly doesn’t seem like something that will impact or make a difference but who knows? At least I’m going to try…

Keep me from getting carried away

let it be

The first time I ever heard Christine Caine speak she spoke about being pregnant.

It was my first time at a Hillsong Women’s event and I was a bit overwhelmed. I had only been living in London 2 months and everything was up in the air. I had no permanent job (at least not what I wanted to be doing) and well, pretty much my entire life was ahead of me. I listened to Christine talk about how there is a reason that women need to be at full term before giving birth. If the baby comes too early then it just isn’t the time.

I was, admittedly, distracted or even too focused on trying to get life right, to really allow this message to set in. I wish I had listened better because I could have avoided a lot of heartache.

Too early, too late, not the right time…

All these things have been factors in my life and if I’m direct, it has not been until recently that I have seen the affects that being impatient or not letting things developed has had on my life.

I’m a planner. If you read any of my posts from the last year or so you’ll see this is a theme I constantly struggle with. I like to know what’s next, what will the outcome be, where life is going.

However, as I listened to a song as I walked home this morning, I realized that has all changed. While of course, habits do not change overnight or in a split second, so I’ll likely still have my moments, I have come to realize that I am okay with waiting.

 

Out there

Thousand years into the future

Almost nothing of it seems sure

Things so rarely stay the same

Right here

In these burning simple seconds

Living out all your best guesses

Someone’s calling out your name

And you get carried away

Carried away (carried away, carried away)

Carried away (carried away, carried away)

Carried away (carried away, carried away)

Carried away (carried away, carried away)

 Teach me to know my number of days

Hold out my heart from getting carried

 

I’m one of those visionary type of people. I have ideas, I like projects, I love creating. My heart can easily get carried away with what will be.

However, just like a baby needs to be in the womb for a certain amount of time in order to develop, grow and be strong, so too is this the same for many aspects of life.

I want to give examples of things that you may need to wait for but something doesn’t feel right about that. I can however, tell you that I personally am at a stage where I am okay to wait.

You know when you’re making pancakes and you bite into a mouthful of batter? If you had just left the temperature a bit lower and let them cook a bit longer they not only would not have been burned but also, they would have been cooked all the way through. They would have been perfect.

In a season where for me, everything has changed and is in a bit of a “pull the arrow back before it’s launched” kind of season, I’m ready to wait. No pressure, no worry, no getting carried away…

Just living a life, loving it, enjoying the process and seeing where it all goes…

“keep my heart from getting carried…away”

 

You do not know what God asked her to do…

I know that not everyone understands the life I choose to live. I understand that the choices I have made are not for everyone.

  • I live thousands of miles from my immediate family.
  • I quit my full-time job and went back to school.
  • I moved to a new country that is FARTHER away from my family (even those in Europe).
  • I am 29 and not married (okay, so not completely under my control).

My circumstances are not dissimilar to many of my friends who have chosen to live life in a way that may not seem like the right way to some. Having lived in London for the last few years you do accumulate like-minded friends…

However, I still get a lot of questions, questions that can be perceived as judgmental…

  • Why don’t you live closer to your family?
  • Don’t you want to get married?
  • You’re moving again?
  • Going back to school? Isn’t that a bit risky?
  • When are you coming/going back to Canada?

To which most of the time my internal voice is yelling, kicking, screaming and wanting to come out with some sarcastic remark but I control myself and just smile.

Please do not get me wrong, I know the questions are (mostly) well-meaning and most of the time people are simply curious…but it can still be taxing…

So to everyone who doesn’t understand…please know this…

Not all who wander…are lost.

God said that he knows the plans he has for me. He has plans to prosper me. He will give me a hope and a future.  (Jer 29) He created me. (Genesis) He knows the number of hairs on my head. He is always here for me, whether I go to the depths of the ocean or the far side of the sea. (Psalm) He wants to give me a life abundant and far beyond everything I could ever imagine or dream of or hope for. I am chosen, appointed to bear His fruit (Corithians)

I have been made in His image, to do the work that he planned beforehand…

And my path…is unique to me. I am here for one reason, to show the love of Christ to those who do not yet know Him and the creator of the universe has handcrafted the way that plays out.

And to you…whatever path you are on…it is your path…He has put you exactly where you need to be, as a mother, a father, a brother, a daughter, a sister, a friend, an advocate…whether you never leave the 30 mile radius you grew up in, or leave and never look back.

(sidenote: I have had many conversations with people, in all different circumstances, not just like me, who feel judged or accused because of the way they live their lives).

So, I guess my message is two-fold. Whatever path you have taken, continue to seek God and get to know Him. Love Him and love others…and don’t worry about what others think of your decisions because ultimately we are only accountable to Him. He will direct your path.

And to those who question the choices others make…unless they’re harming themselves or others, please be wise in your questioning of their choices…take a minute and think about what you are asking…

 

You may not understand what God has asked them to do…

It takes two or “I’m glad we met”

You know, a lot of the past few months have been spent dealing with the hurt, the pain, the brokenness of the last year. I used this as a place where I could think, feel, express and comprehend everything that had gone on. (And with God’s grace, help others in ways I never imagined and for that I’m thankful) And through that entire time there was one thing I never really expressed, the one thing that I always felt but was not ready to say out loud.

When you deal with grief, with brokenness and it involves another person it’s just easier to process what you are going through and not consider the other person. When it comes to breaking up with someone that is more than often the absolute truth. The thing is, that’s okay. It’s okay to just deal with you and to become you again. In my case, find myself, change my life, fix what needed fixing and pursue the dreams I had on my heart for so many years.

For me, I tried a lot, in my prayers, rants and journal entries to understand the other side but frankly, it was not the time.

And then one day that just changed. It’s that moment when you can begin to remember in peace and accept what you knew already: it takes two. There’s always another side to the story, a person on the other other end of the break up. They suffer, they grieve, they hurt and they have their own issues to deal with (because honestly, we all have baggage).

My friend made a comment on Twitter that parents of writers never really get to forget their past mistakes because we use the material in everything we do. Quite frankly, Max Dubinsky was right when he said that you can’t date a writer either, unless you marry them (which he did)…that can’t be easy for the one on the other end.

The other person is human and of course they have to deal with all that went on and move forward. It’s forgiveness, it’s closure and I hope that some day it means a friendly, genuine hello.

We have been given grace beyond what we deserve so we should be giving it too…so for what’s it worth…I’m glad we met…

and for all of you…when it’s time…forgive, forget, remember peacefully…

 

Trust is easy when you know you’re not going to fall

 

It’s so easy to trust when things are comfortable. 

When you have more than enough money in the bank…it’s easy to trust.

When you have a boyfriend who wants to hold your hand and whispers about your future…it’s easy to trust.

When you have a steady and fabulous job you love…it’s easy to trust.

When your kids are behaving well…it’s easy to trust.

When every day is bright and the sun warms your skin…it’s easy to trust.

When you are getting good grades in school…it’s easy to trust.

When you can see the path you need to take it’s easy to trust.

BUT…what about when…

Your wife just came home and said she is leaving you…

Your job is not safe because of economic circumstances…

What if your child has been diagnosed with a serious disease…

or what if you simply made some bad choices with serious consequences??

I started thinking about these things as the pastor was talking about tithing on Sunday. I’m an absolute believer in tithing and offering back to God what is His. However, I have to admit that since leaving full time job, moving out of London, starting my own company and basically going “okay, God, you put me here…take care of me” it’s not been as easy to offer that which is already His back to Him. Of course I have but I have had to go back and look at my heart reasons for doing it in the first place.

But this post isn’t about tithing (though important) it’s about the trust I put in God when the outcome isn’t clear or even what I hoped for or the future isn’t certain.

Moving to London was an easy transition in comparison to Stockholm. Though life here is absolutely wonderful, the perfectionist in me thinks I should have been fluent in Swedish two weeks ago, the girl who loves people wants best friends right away, the shopper/traveler wants to know how she will get more income and the planner in me wants to know far too many answers about the future to even start writing here.

But through this process what I am learning (maybe I should have called this post “Two months in,what I have learned) is that in this season in particular, my job is to not only trust the creator of the world, the one who goes before me, the one who loves me, the one who has and will never leave me or forsake me, the one who has planned my life since the world began, the one who knows how many hairs I have on my head (even if I spontaneously cut it on a Monday afternoon)…if that wasn’t enough of a task…and enough reason to trust, my job is to live today so that when I meet a new person I’m prepared. When the next client comes along, I am prepared. When I’m finished my MSc, I’m prepared. When the next opportunity to travel (probably a wedding, it seems to be the trend) comes along, I’m prepared.

Lean on, trust in, and be confident in the Lord with all your heart and mind and do not rely on your own insight or understanding.

proverbs 3:5

so, like me…do you have trouble trusting? I’m not sure we ever get to a place where we always trust but I do want to get to a place that instead of trying to solve whatever problem I’m facing, the first thing I do is remind myself who is in control…

Wounded part two…

When someone you care about hurts you, you can hold on to anger, resentment and thoughts of revenge — or embrace forgiveness and move forward. 

…this includes yourself…

There’s a point where you just need to let go.  A very wise person told me that one day you’ll look back and see how far you have come but there may always be moments where you feel so broken…and that is okay. I had felt broken lately. It’s probably the moving to a new place, new language, new friends, new church etc…etc…but part of it, I know that this is a season of healing that is taking place…

I wrote an email a few months ago which I never sent and I will never send. This email allowed me to say everything I wanted to say, everything that needed to be said but that I was never given the chance to do. With no filter I wrote and wrote and wrote until I had forgiven…and a few days ago it was time to write another email.

This time I wrote the email to me…and I want to share a bit here…

But most of all…

 I forgive me. I forgive me for blaming myself for falling in love. I forgive me for not showing wisdom in the situation and not listening to the Holy Spirit when I knew there was something wrong. I forgive me for every second that I blamed myself for the end and for not being good enough. I forgive the nights that I looked at myself and hated myself for not being everything you needed. I can’t be. I’m not. I could only love like I knew how and to the best of my ability. I forgive myself for thinking that because you didn’t talk to me it meant that I had done something wrong. I forgive myself for all the thoughts I had in anger, in regret, in disappointment, in fear.  

I forgive myself for the energy I spent wanting you back the way things were, for now I see that in fact, the way things were was great but wasn’t completely you. I forgive myself for the times I didn’t explain to you that I was upset not at you but at me. I forgive myself for hating my body, my emotions, my entire being. I forgive myself for the fact that I didn’t love myself enough to tell you how I really felt or love myself enough to understand that just because you didn’t want me enough to fight that i’m still MORE than enough. I forgive myself for telling myself I could not cry. I forgive myself for all the years of not trusting people. I forgive myself for hating who I am in moments where I felt tired, or sick or anxious. 

I forgive me. 

Unforgiveness can destroy a person. I think we often forget “us” in the equation. I have had to forgive a lot of people in my life and I have definitely had to be forgiven way too many times to count, but what I have realised most recently is that there are things in life that I had to forgive myself for. There were moments, thoughts and actions (or lack of action) that I needed to put in the past and say to me “It’s okay, you have moved on.”

This journey of healing is not easy but it’s so worth it.

Maybe you haven’t forgiven yourself for something you did in the past, or perhaps it wasn’t something you did but something that you thought. Maybe you hate your body and have told it lies. Maybe you didn’t think you had value…whatever it is…maybe it’s time to write yourself a letter or stand in front of the mirror and say “I forgive you.”

Remember there is no condemnation in Christ…whatever your past was, you are free from it. Let’s move forward together.

with love

M

*no images used in this post are my own, I claim no ownership.

I only want to be strong

I may not look like that right now but I can hang like that…

I was 16 years old and I laid in bed with tears falling. They were tears of sadness mixed with tears of determination. I chose that moment to stop being weak.

You see, I was in high school and very close to a size 26 (US sizes). I wasn’t unhappy, depressed or sad. However, I had just been to South Africa and for the first time ever in my life I struggled to close the seat belt. I remember sitting on that plane, at the beginning of a one month trip across the world, wondering if the tiny planes I would have to eventually sit in, would be too small.

I knew I would be going off to university in two years and I didn’t just want to be the “fun and bubbly” Michelle. I didn’t so much care how I looked but that I could pick whatever clothes I wanted and most of all that I would be strong one day.

So the journey began…

I stopped eating sugar, cut out soda and just started being that much more active. I don’t believe in quick fixes, pills or surgery (until you really need it). Although it’s taken me many years and I have plateaued through the years I have learned many valuable lessons along the way. Now, today I have gone down 14 dress sizes and this week at the gym I was able to do a whole lot of pull ups on the frame. I’m stronger and slimmer and healthier than I have ever been. Best feeling ever when the gym junkies stare at you and their jaws drop! I have even ran a half marathon and considering doing a full one next year. Oh! And air plane seat belts? Loose…

I don’t write this because I want to brag about what I have done. Trust me, I have still a ways to go and I know that I’ll get there. I write this because to each of you reading this that has a goal; I encourage you to start today. Whether that means you need to lose weight, or eat healthier. Whether it means getting out of that abusive relationship or studying really hard to get into the school you want. It may be that you just simply want to save the money and travel around the world for a year…you can do it. I’m living proof that when you put your mind to something you can and will see results and accomplish what you started. Like me, it may take you longer than you wanted but I personally have learned so much along the way. I have zero regrets.

Recently, in the middle of feeling broken hearted, I looked back and remembered crossing the finish line after running 21k and with that thought in mind, got up and went…sure my heart hurts now but it will get stronger again. With determination, self-control and a lot of passion you will do anything you want…

so, what’s stopping you?

 

I’ve still got about 3-4 dress sizes to go but I’m getting there…

I’d prefer not to be a pillar of salt

“I wish that i could stop this wishing and just say my last goodbye”

Two weeks ago I sat down at my computer and wrote an email. I wrote that email to my ex. I wrote every last thing I was feeling, I edited it, I cried and prayed over that email and then I hit save and hid it from my eyes. When a dear friend of the family lost her husband very suddenly and couldn’t say goodbye her therapist told her to sit in front of him and just say everything she wanted to say to him. So she did…And when a friend of mine had to deal with the pain of his past he wrote his father a poem and never sent it.

Goodbye, Adios, see you later.

I was listening to music at my desk today when Wishes by Superchick came on. I immediately stopped and thought…WOW you’re singing a song I could have written.

The saddest thing is you could be anything/ That you could want We could have been everything /But now we’re not /Now it’s not anything at all/ The hardest part was getting this close to you/ And giving up this dream i built with you/ A fairytale that isn’t coming true/You’ve got some growing up to do/I wish we could have worked it out
I wish i didn’t have these doubts
I wish i didn’t have to wonder just what you are doing now
I wish i didn’t know inside
That it won’t work out for you and i
I wish that i could stop this wishing and just say my last goodbye

After all the things you put me through
Tell me why i’m still in love with you
And why am i, why am i still waiting for your call
You broke my heart
I’m taking it back from you
And taking back the life i gave to you
Life goes on before and after you
I’ve got some growing up to do

I wish we could have worked it out
I wish i didn’t have these doubts
I wish i didn’t have to wonder just what you are doing now
I wish i didn’t know inside
That it won’t work out for you and i
I wish that i could stop this wishing and just say my last goodbye

It’s time i said my last goodbye
Goodbye
Goodbye
It’s time i said my last goodbye

I wish we could have worked it out
I wish i didn’t have these doubts
I wish i didn’t have to wonder just what you are doing now
I wish i didn’t know inside
That it won’t work out for you and i
I wish that i could stop this wishing and just say my last goodbye

It’s time i said my last goodbye
Goodbye
Goodbye
It’s time i said my last goodbye
Goodbye
Goodbye
It’s time i said my last goodbye

Closure is incredibly important, whether it’s the end of a relationship, a sudden death, a move away from where you lived or a step forward in a new role. Saying goodbye draws a line in the sand and allows you to move forward. For whether it was good or bad we are told to look forward and not back in life. In Genesis 19 Lot’s wife looked back and was turned to salt…Isaiah 43:18-19 reads “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past.  See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.” Job 17:9 states, “The righteous keep moving forward, and those with clean hands become stronger and stronger.” (NLT)

We are to keep moving forward in life. What is it that you need to say goodbye to? What doors do you need to close and not look back on? Let’s move ahead and look to the future with new plans, new corners to uncover and new people to reach…