I sat for a long time on a mossy rock and drank in its beauty, wondering how long it had been a witness to the world, who had found shelter under its now fallen leaves and what storms and winds had shaped it into its elegant form; there had obviously been many.
Craig Lounsborough said, “It is within the fury of the very storms within which I cower that I find resources for my growth that are entirely absent on calmer days.” Then he asks himself an interesting question, “Am I a storm-waster?”
Do I resist the very storm which has the capacity to make me stronger, to shape me into a more compassionate, more understanding person? I think that’s been true of me on a number of occasions; I’ve chosen safety rather than face the full force of the storm.
I know my prayers are more often about safe keeping than about courage and strength to face whatever comes. I wonder how much I’ve sacrificed of my growth in the process?
We learn courage by being courageous and we’re never going to get those opportunities on calm days in safe waters.
Our scars come from the painful events that come unbidden in our lives but also from the times we take the courage to step out with vulnerability, willing to share our imperfections, mistakes and stuff ups. Sometimes that takes an even greater courage.
My last job required me to speak in public, something that terrified me to the core, so I booked into a 10 week Toast Master’s course. Every single week I would have to write and present a speech to the group whose sole responsibility was to judge me.
There was a time keeper with his stopwatch, someone responsible for counting my ums and ahs, someone else who scored points for various parts of my speech and presentation and everyone in the group gave me a score out of ten and written feedback. Every night was pure agony, I felt exposed and inadequate amongst so many accomplished speakers but I leant as much about life in those weeks as I did about public speaking.
About twelve months later I stood and delivered a speech at my daughter’s wedding and that night people were brought to tears. In that moment I realised that all the pain and embarrassment had not been wasted, that growth and change often come at great personal cost, but it was worth every bit.
I have a picture of the tree in my office now, a reminder to allow the uncomfortable, uncertain and painful times to be my teacher and grow in me greater courage, faith, compassion, resilience and a deeper understanding of myself. For light shines brightest through our brokenness.