If we are going to kick fear in the face, we need to get out of our comfort zones. Growth doesn’t happen in the easy or the known; it happens in the challenging, the awkward, and the unfamiliar.
This weekend my husband and I shared an adventure that pushed us both dramatically out of our comfort zones. We spent the weekend in Raleigh attending workshops and certification courses to become certified group fitness instructors. One quick scan around the room made us realize we stood out like two scarlet macaws in a celebration of polar bears.
My first bout of discomfort set in well before the workshop began. Upon check-in, I realized I had signed us up for the wrong workshop. The workshop we were registered for was a preparation course for the certification workshop I thought I had registered us for. This doesn’t seem like a big deal; however, when you have your heart set on a goal of becoming certified in something and you realize it isn’t going to happen, it can crush your spirit. The certification workshop was actually being held the next day and was sold out. We had been preparing for over a month for the certification. My initial reaction was pitiful. I was angry. I blamed lack of clarity on the website and had a nice little fit over the unfairness of the situation. In all honesty, I was completely frustrated with myself, but it is always so much easier to place the blame on others.
My sweet husband calmed me down and reminded me I could be part of the problem (which is what I was doing with my fit) or part of the solution. Deep breath. In order to become part of the solution, I had to surrender to my lack of control and become open to the situation in front of us. This was easier said than done, but made all the more doable when the love of your life is holding your hand reminding you not to sweat the small stuff. A few more deep breaths. A return to faith. Surrender.
Once I surrendered to the situation and embraced my lack of control, grace set in. Our instructor encouraged us to show up the following day, reassuring us that there were always no-shows and there was possibility that there might be room for us in the certification course. Hope. My aunt and uncle were watching my children and we had only planned for a one-day workshop. They graciously offered to watch the children for a second day. Love. When I was joking around with another attendee not to judge if Mike and I showed up in the same clothes the next day because we had only packed one set of exercise clothes, she pulled a clean shirt out of her bag and offered it to me. Compassion.
The funny thing is, no matter how uncomfortable, we always seem to be given exactly what we need. The preparation workshop provided us with a strong foundation of understanding rather than countless memorized facts. It allowed us to ask questions, to hear both success and challenge stories, and to dive far deeper into content and practice. It even helped my husband learn to move to the beat (I fell in love with him all over again as I watched him open himself up to vulnerability and dare greatly through this entire process). We also spent the day with some pretty amazing people. As for my children, they had a great time with my aunt and uncle. I remember spending weekends with them as a child and those are some of my fondest memories. To walk in a door and see love and joy radiate from your children’s faces and know they were forming the same memories given to you in childhood was a gift beyond measure.
Mike and I were allowed into the certification course the following day. We aced the written exam. Despite standing out as scarlet macaws, we both feel as if we did well on our practical exam. We may not have been as strong and confident as the polar bears around us, but we rocked it out and had fun along the way. Mike even mastered the downbeat and put some swag into his grapevine. Priceless. If nothing else, we showed up fully, embraced our colorfulness, and dared greatly together. We won’t know for certain if we received our certification for another 6 weeks. I do know that by surrendering to the uncomfortable it became a sweet discomfort. That sweet discomfort was the playing field where growth, learning, and opportunity took place. I also know that when you’re holding hands with someone through the uncomfortable, pass or fail doesn’t matter, certification doesn’t matter, control (or lack thereof) doesn’t matter. The love, laughter and togetherness throughout the journey were (and are) all that ever really mattered. Let us dive deep into life by reaching out, taking hold of one another’s hands, getting uncomfortable, and journeying on together.