16 October 2011

On responding

On Friday afternoon, I met with two of my favorite ladies for our (sporadically-meeting but always inspiring) prayer group, and we spent some time reflecting on a set of Bible readings. One of the themes that came up for all of us was the importance of listening for and responding to a call.  This call can be a call to openness, a call to acceptance, a call to trust, a call to action or to contemplation. The first step is listening for the call, then you get to respond.  The important thing about responding, as far as I can work it out, is that it's a reaction rather than simply an action; that is, I'm not actually responsible for figuring out the direction, making a map and a giant plan, and working out all of the details before I begin.  I just have to say yes and get moving.

So I've been reflecting a lot on what I'm really, deeply being called to in my life right now, and a big part of the answer is apparently just to trusting that responding, responding with fearlessness, is enough. For example, in many arenas I feel like I'm at a bit of a crossroads. Do I push forward with my studies and accomplish a major goal (the answer is yes, but the motivation for the execution is... well, I'm working on that part)? Do I ask (particular) people for what I really want instead of continuing to be half-satisfied with what I get from asking only for what feels safe?  Again yes, even though it's scary and I don't know what the results will be.  I'm being called to shake out of fear and the resulting paralysis and just try something new, different, and exciting.

In each situation, the solution to the problem of paralysis is Responding with Fearlessness. Heck yeah, I added those capital letters! This is a big concept! And it makes a lot of sense, right? Moving ahead with your life, crossing from the known into the unknown, is a simultaneously a stunningly frightening and exhilarating move. It's hard not to psych yourself out by thinking about all the ways in which you're not quite prepared for what's going to be waiting at the end of the road you're stepping onto. Do I have the finances right now to set up my dream life in an amazing house with a giant garden? Nope, but that doesn't mean I can't purchase art or appliances or plants for my current apartment that I can envision using in said amazing house.

In short, there's no reason to wait until you feel like you're good enough or perfectly suited for the kind of life you want.  If the call to move forward comes, pick up and go and work out the details as situations that need responses present themselves.  See that? You'll have opportunities to respond over and over again.  Don't freak out about needing to have the whole thing worked out ahead of time, of being prepared for every single eventuality and worst-case-scenario.

So. Responding with Fearlessness. Jumping in, being ready to make mistakes and change and grow and learn new things so that when you reach the end of the road, you will have become ready for what waits there, even if you're not ready now (and how could you be?). Trusting that being willing to respond is all the preparation you need before something comes along for you to respond to.  Being inspired by a statement like this:

If you give your life as a wholehearted response to love, then love will wholeheartedly respond to you.
-Marianne Williamson

Today, the call I'm hearing is for reflection and centering. Responding looks something like this:

Sweaters and cats and reflection and sharing with you all. Anything you've felt called to lately? What are your thoughts on responding?


kathy b said...

im hearing a call, just not sure what it is! I do need to pray about my discontent at work over the weekend. I am very deliberate so taking the LEAP of Faith is hard for me. Another blogger says"

new action.

and I try to keep up with that simple direction. Good luck!

Allison said...

Yes! Deliberating and planning always seems like such a good idea, but sometimes it holds us back. I like that "action" is the first step on this other list!

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