Part 2 - Refusal of the Call
Nine years ago, the day before I left for a 6-month trip to Brazil, my Minister asked me to think about if I was being called to be a Local Preacher (or Lay Preacher) for the Methodist church. I returned after six months and responded
‘No, I don’t think I’m being called to be a Preacher.’
That was 2009.
Six years later, on 8th March 2015 I was accredited as a Methodist Lay Preacher in my home church.
In August 2015 sitting in a seminar, I watched a video about people climbing Kilimanjaro and thought
‘You’ll never catch me doing that?’
Today I’m in training to do the climb.
I have several examples where an idea has been suggested, where I’ve been ‘called’ to do or try something that will take me away from what I consider to be normal. Dragged out of my comfort zone. So my answer was usually
My ‘no’ was for a number of different reasons:
· It was something that I never considered doing or that wasn’t in my plan for myself.
· Fear of what others will think – will people laugh or think I’m too big for my boots?
· I don’t know anyone (personally) who has done it - it’s only for the rich, the famous, the brave, the insert your own words
· Worrying about the destination and not the journey – thinking 10 steps ahead and not step by step
Others will identify with my ‘no’s’ and others will have other reasons like:
· I have obligations; to my partner, to my children, to my boss, to my parents
· I will lose my family, I’ll end up alone
· It’s too hard
· I’m too old, it’s too late
Joseph Campbell suggests that refusing the call to adventure leads to unhappiness and boredom. Because you see, you can’t unring a bell. You can’t unsee an opportunity. You can’t unhear a call.
You can refuse that call but it will always sit there within you. As that niggling question that comes up continually asking:
Should I have?
Why didn’t I?
You may push it back down with food or alcohol or television or doing the same old, same old, convincing yourself that you were right to say no. You can do that, but every once in a while, it will return, each time bigger than the last time until you have no more excuses, but you’re too scared to try.
And you tell yourself you were right to say no until one day it really is too late, and you look back filled with regret and sorrow, because the bell can never be unrung, the opportunity never unseen, the call unheard it all just sits within you transformed into bitterness, depression, resentment, sadness.
You’re lucky and something happens, possibly something you consider awful, which leads you to consider your options and you realise you have no choice but to answer the call. So you answer, with reluctance, and your life seems to flow better, more easily. And you look back and say
‘Every cloud has a silver lining.’
‘Everything happens for a reason.’
You make excuses. You tell yourself all the reasons why not; why it won’t work or why it isn’t a good idea, or why you can’t do it. Until the day comes that you tell yourself why not and as you say it, you hear yourself as if you were speaking for the first time and you realise that you’re talking nonsense. That what you’ve been telling yourself is untrue. And you realise it’s time to give it a go. And then you do. And it’s sometimes difficult, but because you know it’s right - it’s your adventure - you continue anyway.
I have done that so many times, made excuse after excuse and then heard myself and this trip to Kilimanjaro is one of those occasions, as is this journey to build my business. And I do feel there is a difference to the times I’ve done something out of fear or because I think I should or have to (like taking a job so I have a secure income). When you’re answering a call to adventure, the obstacles are seen as challenges. Not always while you’re tackling them but your or should I say my attitude is very different. There is that inner knowing that tells me to just take it one step at a time. That tells me to listen to myself and the wisdom that I am receiving from my creator. There is that sense of connection to life’s energy that is pulling me through the sensation of swimming through treacle and showing me the light at the end of the tunnel, using opportunities and synchronicities. There is the feeling that quitting is not an option, that I just need to press on.
You might say, well you’re in midlife, it’s too late for you, but I’m here to tell you it’s not. You were called and maybe, for one of the reasons I outlined above, you had to say no. But what if your circumstances are different now? What if those ‘no’s’ no longer exist? So what if it’s out of your comfort zone, what if it’s time to grow? What if you no longer recognise yourself? What if you become bigger than you ever dreamed?
Those are the questions I have asked myself.
The questions I do ask myself.
The questions, I hope I will continue to ask myself.
To be continued…