As I drove to my sabbatical destination, the destination that was supposed to bring me closer to the peace I longed for, I felt anything but peaceful. What I felt was stirred up, rattled and unsettled. Most unsettling for me, was driving through the town where I grew up - not the town where I spent my childhood, but the town where I spent my early adult years. The town where I really grew up, not chronologically, perhaps, but emotionally, spiritually and intellectually. You know, the kind of growing up that we do after we are already grown, out of school and on our own. I spent almost 10 years in this particular town and boy, did I ever have some growing experiences there; a lot of them painful, yet unavoidable and beneficial nonetheless. So, driving through was a bit uncomfortable as I recalled some of the more upsetting lessons I had learned in my time there.
I was traveling through an area of this town on my way to my final destination yesterday and I was practically transported in time as I remembered this particular stretch of road. I used to drive this route to work every day. It was so familiar, that it was almost as if it were 1988. And yet it had changed, all at the same time. Some of the old remained, sure, but a lot had been added, improvements have been made and some things that had once been landmarks on the terrain were gone altogether. I thought briefly about the similarities between the changes that have been made to the landscape of my old stomping grounds and the changes that I myself have gone through over the years. I have changed in just the same ways, I have added a few things, gotten rid of a few things that no longer served a purpose in my life and made some improvements, but still, I am recognizable; the bones of my personal (inner) terrain remain the same.
Time marches on and we certainly can't remain the same. We have to be changeable without being completely changed. The inner self, the self that I believe is the soul, created by God is a unique and wonderful thing and should never be changed to the point of being unrecognizable. The trick in changing ourselves properly lies in culling out the unnecessary parts and keeping our essence intact. This process has indeed become very tricky for me recently. Hence, the reason I have come to this cabin, alone, for a week - to find peace, listen to my inner voice (the Holy Spirit) and strip away all the superfluous layers of 'stuff' that aren't really me. Sounds easy enough, right?
One of the main sticking points to creating this change, at the moment, is expectation. Not only the expectations of those around me and the world at large, but also the expectations I have for myself. Those expectations are often higher and more difficult to achieve than anything the world could throw at me. I have always had high expectations for myself and exacting personal standards. It is so much easier to forgive the foibles of those around me than it is for me to overlook my own imperfections. Appearing foolish or looking stupid to others is a fate worse than death to me. It is this fear that holds me back from opening myself up to my full potential.
Tackling the fear-of-looking-foolish beast is one of my goals this week. Once I accomplish this, I feel I will be free to live as I was intended to live, as God created me to live. I will have changed some more in the process, just as the town where I grew up has changed. It is still the same town, though. It still has the same feel it always had, it is just improved a bit to better serve it's purpose for those who live within its borders. That is what I am praying for myself as well.