In August, I was in Colorado for the For the Love retreat. I arrived early and spent a day exploring Breckenridge with friends. The rest of the group was super excited to ride down the mountain on the Alpine SuperSlide. I stayed behind as they took off on the lifts to head to the top. I’ve never been an adventurous person by nature and years of physical sickness that limited my activity meant my automatic response in situations like that was ‘no.’
But as the last person disappeared into the sky, I thought ‘but why?! Why are you really not joining the rest of them?’ I realized I didn’t have a good enough reason, so the thoughts in my head were all fear-based excuses. I bought a ticket and rode the swinging fall-to-my-death-at-any-minute-chair (it’s a process, alright?!) to the top of the hill and experienced the joy of crisp mountain air hitting my face as I slid down the slide…laughing like a kid the entire way.
I have avoided a lot in my life because I thought things would be ‘too hard’ due to the intricacies of my personality. I’ve used them as excuses: ‘I can’t do that because it would mess with me too much…I’m just too sensitive’ or ‘the emotions involved with that relationship are too deep/hard/messy and I’m not dealing with them’ or ‘I’m an introvert so it’s ok that I’m a hermit and don’t want to connect with a lot of people’
However, in recent months, I’ve realized just how much life I’ve missed out on because I was too afraid to feel.
So I made a choice. I decided to stop limiting my capacity to be used by God. Staying away from the hard stuff means not being present in the very scenarios that are ripe with opportunity for Him to show up. He created me with this tender heart for a purpose and my job is to trust Him with it in all situations…not just the ones I want to be part of.
How many orphans would have families if more of us stopped saying ‘I could never foster a child, it would be too difficult to give them back’? How many homeless individuals would actually feel like real people instead of worthless & forgotten trash on the street if we stopped walking past them, pretending not to notice? How many relationships would be rectified if we laid down our excuse of pride and said ‘I don’t care if I feel like he/she wronged me, the person and my relationship with him/her is more important so I’m gonna do what I can to make it right’?
We justify not making changes in life because ‘as women we tend to be ______’ or ‘as men we tend to do ______’. We say ‘It’s just the way I am, I can’t help it’ – which is true to an extent. God made us in very specific ways for very specific purposes. The way we are is a valid reason for why we do things the way that we do them…but if we don’t stretch ourselves to grow and go beyond our natural capacity, our lives will be extremely limited. When we use our ‘reasons’ as a way to avoid leaving our comfort zones, they become excuses.
A friend recently wrote “Mediocrity is unacceptable to someone who sees life as something to be seized and experienced, not just lived. Mediocrity is nothing more than the cumulative results of all your ‘that’s too hard’, ‘I don’t have time’, ‘I’ll get to it’ and other excuses you might have…Mediocrity is always waiting, always accepting…”
I often see the phrase ‘fully alive’ tossed around social media (and the decor section of TJ Maxx ;)). It’s a very warm and fuzzy thought, but if we’re not careful, it could lead to just a more glamorous term for ‘mediocre’.
I’m sure most people want to live ‘fully alive’ in the comfortable sense. But I want to live truly fully alive – a life that’s warm and fuzzy but also not afraid of the messy and hard. I want all that God has to offer, even if it means getting in the trenches with those who have been labeled ‘subpar’ and unworthy…even if it means not being able to avoid the heartache that often comes with it.
In this new year, I want to be surrounded by people who aren’t going to let me settle for anything less than God’s best. Here’s to going ‘all in’ and living without excuses!