I have a hard time saying what I want. It’s been that way for as long as I can remember. I marvel at those who can unashamedly declare what they want or need without any inhibition or influence from others. I just didn’t come with that gene. However, I’m learning.
The red armrests of our chairs touch each other as H and I take some time to steal away on Father’s Day, push our toes into sand and talk. I’m reading him this excerpt from chapter eight in Grace for the Good Girl when I have this revelation about hiding behind my comfort zone:
“As a kid, I was too concerned about making the ‘right’ choice, the choice that would please the most people. I did not give myself permission to make the fun choice when the outcome didn’t matter . . . . I weigh, I consider, I balance and reconsider. I obsess over what they would do, what he would want, or what she would think of me. It is easy to blame it on responsibility or grown-up-ness or consequences, or to claim it as wisdom and experience. But I think it has more to do with fear.”
As I read these words, I recall a time from adolescence. I’m standing in Famous Barr with my grandma while she buys a new dress. I look at books and toys on an end cap and when she is finished, she notices that I am engrossed in something I found. Instead of asking her if I can have the book, I just keep turning the pages, hoping she might buy it for me. She finally does.
This becomes a pattern- receiving affirmation for not asking for what I want- not just by her but other adults too. Then it begins to feel wrong, pretentious, demanding, and ungrateful to say what I want out loud. So I don’t, unless someone asks. And when someone does ask, it feels like I need to dislodge a boulder from my larynx to find the words.
I share this story, my revelation, and it cracks open the door of understanding for H. Why I have a hard time saying what I want.
Because being forthcoming about needs and desires is like stepping on the stage of risk and rejection – naked. And that feels scary uncomfortable. It’s probably why I have a hard time asking people to like my Facebook page or follow this blog.
I am asking myself the question Emily asks us in her book. What would it look like if I allowed Jesus himself to determine my comfort zone?
Maybe it starts with cooking brussel sprouts for yourself when no one else in the family likes them, or going for a walk on the beach when everyone else is too tired or deciding on the red dress when everyone else likes the black one, just because you like it the best. Maybe it looks like quitting a paid writing job to follow a dream.
I close my Kindle at a high-pitched voice yelling “grandma” over the roar of waves. A gangly young boy pleads with his grandma to come and swim. She sits under umbrella, book in her lap.
“Your mom will come in with you,” she retorts behind us, but it seems he is deaf to her reply. He continues telling her she needs to swim while running in circles, diving into water like grabbing home plate for the score.
A few minutes later, she hobbles into the ocean in a marble-y blue one-piece and grabs his outstretched hand. She lifts him, knees up to his chest, over waves five feet high. Her thin grey hair soaks and she stands sturdy in repetitive breakers. They eventually swim holding hands, rolling over waves in tandem.
And sitting there under a sky of sun, He shows me what freedom looks like in a boy who asks and a grandma who loves him more than she wants to sit comfortable. It’s how Jesus loves us too.
Don’t bargain with God. Be direct. Ask for what you need. This isn’t a cat-and-mouse, hide-and-seek game we’re in. ~Matthew 7:7, Message
So now, I’ll ask you. What would it look like if you allowed Jesus to determine your comfort zone?
I’m counting thanks with Ann too, because its Multitudes on Mondays and there is so much to be thankful for.
- For a husband who cares about what is important to me and loves me, despite my weaknesses.
- A week for just the two of us while Harrison is off to camp and Murielle on mission in Jamaica.
- A suitcase loaded full under fifty pounds.
- My girls heart, the way she loves Jesus and others unselfishly.
- The way she fed her brother and his friends lunch and got everything cleaned up before I came home. Smiling on the couch, proud of her productivity.
- A dinner party with friends that filled us all up with joy.