Saturday, September 24, 2016

Daring Greatly


A few weeks ago I started reading a book by Brene Brown called Daring Greatly. It's a book about the courage of vulnerability that changes the way we live, love and lead. I have never really thought of myself as a courageous person, but I think that is because of the way I have defined courage. I think I tend to picture the brave, courageous person as the one who is not afraid of and is willing to do anything. I'm learning that this definition is not really accurate. I think the courageous person is someone who encounters something that scares them to death but they do it anyway. If I think of courage this way maybe I am a little more courageous than I think.

The older I get the more I understand who God created me to be. I am very muchly an introvert. I can be friendly and love to have meaningful conversations with people but I need to have time alone to recharge. 4 years ago courage for me looked like signing up to go and live on a ship in Africa with 450 other people. Living on the ship takes daily courage for me. Everytime I step out of my cabin to engage the community it takes courage. My introvert self would much rather hide in my cabin and read or watch Castle. :) But courage says step out and engage people no matter the cost.

The courage it takes to live here has increased in different ways for me this year. As most of you know I had to say goodbye to many of my closest friends at the end of last year. These were friends that had been here with me from the beginning of my time on the ship. We worked together, lived together and figured out how to navigate living thousands of miles from home on a ship in Africa together. Words are not enough to describe the depth of friendship that is forged through the trials and  experiences here. I have friends here who though they have only known me a few years, know me much better than close friends from home.

I knew it would be different this year for me with all the changes but I had no idea how hard it would really be. My second week back from summer the weight of it all hit. I was in a familiar place that was not as familiar with so many of my friends gone. Lots of new, eager crew were here to take the place of my friends. I wanted to engage them, but how do you engage the new when you are just beginning to grieve the loss of the old. I met with one one of the chaplains onboard who had some really great advice for me. After me telling her that it was hard to be here and that I felt stuck in a hard place she simply asked "Do you feel stuck on the ship or stuck in your grief?" She encouraged me to step out in courage and embrace the pain and grief of the loss of my friends but to not stay there so that joy may come.
I am still working on walking that out. As grief often does, it surfaces at times I don't expect it. Coffee gatherings, pizza nights, meetings, weekends away. I genuinely want to embrace new relationships but how do I do that while still feeling the raw pain of the all the goodbyes and knowing this is most likely my last year onboard? I don't want to waste this year. I know God has called me here for a reason and I don't want to miss anything he wants to do in and through me. I will choose courage and be vulnerable. I will open my heart to the people God has surrounded me with even when it scares me. I will choose to sew into friendships even when I know the deeper we go the harder the goodbye will be.

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