Sunday, September 14, 2014

out of the comfort zone

This year, I'll be sharing the notes from each month's devotional on the blog... just in case there's someone who missed the meeting or who wants to go back & reread afterward.

September Devotional
by Sarah

At our Steering Team retreat this summer, the devotional sign-up sheet went around the room & I passed it on without a second glance because, um, I don't really do devotionals. Then the sheet made it's second round & September was the only month available. And I suddenly realized that ok, so devotionals aren't in my comfort zone. But this year is about brave, right?

So here I am.

This year's theme, "be you, bravely," is about pushing yourself. It's about going a little bit beyond your normal. It's about doing a new thing. Our theme verse reads:
Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing!

Isaiah 43:18

So at risk of getting a bit vulnerable (because we're being brave, remember?), I'd like to tell you a quick story.

In 2006, when I was 28 years old, my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer. She died 10 months later. And y'all? It was really terrible. Like, REALLY terrible. I tried & tried but I couldn't fix her. And when she died, I was devastated.

A year later, I was still reeling. I went from talking to my mom on the phone 3 times a day to nothing & I didn't even know how to process that. Then I found out I was pregnant & it felt like maybe, just maybe, things were looking up. Except then I had a miscarriage. And then next year, another miscarriage. And the year after that, another miscarriage. And by this time, I was a scary, bitter person. Like the kind of person you avoid because, yeah, that girl? She's got the issues.

So then in 2011, I was doing fertility treatments & jumping through all these hoops & my husband was still hanging in there, & I got pregnant again. And this time, it actually worked. My daughter Rose was born in September of that year.

When Rose was 5 months old, I found myself in a MOPS meeting. I was still in a bad place emotionally... I had this baby that I loved more than anything, but my mother was still gone & I had no idea what I was doing & nothing was like I always thought it would be. So I walk into this MOPS meeting & there were all these moms who really had themselves together. They're laughing & cute & nice & happy & skinny & pretty much awesome. And I thought "dude, this is not going to work. These people are WAY too happy." I felt like a total fake... like at any moment, someone was going to tap me on the shoulder & escort me out.

But then when I got home that day & started thinking about it, something happened. I realized that if I was ever going to progress, to change, to move forward at all, I HAD to take a chance. So I came back to MOPS the next month. I showed up. I took a risk.

There have been times when I just feel awkward. There have been moments when I feel totally disconnected, like I don't fit in. I think if we're honest, everyone in this room has had those feelings, even if we hide it really well. Whenever you open yourself up to new people, or a new group, or new experiences, there is risk involved. Risk brings vulnerability.

But when I came back to MOPS, I found something totally unexpected, something fabulous & healing & beautiful. I found relationships... real, honest relationships.

So this morning, I just want to challenge you -- & myself -- to do a brave thing this year. You get to decide what your brave thing is... whether it's coming to next month's meeting, or inviting someone else, or picking up the phone & making that phone call you've been dreading, or coming to a mom's night out even if you want to stay home & rock your yoga pants. Let's gather our courage & our guts & try something new.

In closing, I want to read an excerpt from the feather handout that you'll find here... I think it's beautiful & so appropriate:

A bird will fail to experience all it was made for if it fails to fly. 
{The same is true for us} 
May this year change your life.  
May you hear whispers of hope stirring in your soul.  
May MOPS remind you to breathe in & breathe out,
because we're all in this together.  
The first step may test our bravery, but courage is the key around our necks. 
Be you, Bravely. 

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