Showing up seems simple.
I just go, and there I am. I’m there. I showed up. Easy.
More and more, though, I’m realizing the showing up is often the hardest part.
It isn’t easy to keep showing up to sit on a blue couch across the room from a wise man who asks questions I don’t have the answers to. It isn’t easy to show up to the yoga studio when I would much rather stay in bed. It isn’t easy to show up to the first date, with a hundred unknowns running through my mind, making my palms sweat and my heart race. It isn’t easy to walk through the sanctuary doors of a church again, after being hurt and being burned and falling out of step with the whole thing.
Showing up is hard.
There’s a vulnerability to it. We don’t show up because we have everything figured out. We rarely show up because we want to show off. We show up because we’re seeking. We’re searching. We’re wondering (and maybe wandering a bit too) and we’re wrestling and we know we can’t do it on our own.
So we show up to these places, opening ourselves up to others, and it’s hugely vulnerable. Showing up isn’t just saying “I’m here.” It’s also saying “I’m here, and I have this mess, and I’m bringing these weaknesses, and I have all these questions and concerns, and there are more than a few scars on my heart, and I’m looking for something here even if I don’t know what it is yet, and I’m hoping you can help me, or at least that I’ll find a friend to walk the journey with me, but I’m scared out of my mind, and I don’t know how to do this well, but here I am.”
And so we realize: showing up is hard.
But it’s beautiful, too.
Showing up on my yoga mat the first time was terrifying. But now that I’ve been going for months? It’s not scary. I’m greeted by name when I walk through the door. I smile at familiar faces in my classes. I know the flow, and can move more easily through the motions. I’m stronger.
Showing up church again after weeks away and standing shoulder to shoulder with other seekers reminds me all of us are on this journey of faith together, all coming with wounded hearts and worries of our own.
Showing up to greet the unknown and be open to what it can teach us is an act of strength. We feel the fear, and we do it anyway. We step forward in faith, even though we’re trembling. We speak up, shaky voice and sweaty palms and all. And each time we do, we get a little more brave. We add another experience to our arsenal that reminds us we can do these hard things. We remember we’ve come through fires like this one before, and we’ve been made more refined in the flames. We start to fill up the broken cracks of our hearts with all new kinds of gold (please go read about kintsugi if you don’t know how the Japanese do this with their shattered pottery). We stretch and we grow and we get a little stronger every single time.
But how do we get there? How do we get the first bit of bravery that propels us forward?
That’s the first challenge.
Working yourself up to the showing up is something I can’t easily prescribe a plan for, but I will offer a few suggestions, as a place to start.
- Process internally. Take some time to reflect. What are you afraid of? What’s been holding you back? What do you think is the worst that can happen? What’s the best case scenario?
- Process externally. Share with a friend, a relative, a mentor, a coworker. Add one more person to your team, and let their presence, support, and encouragement help bolster you.
- Have a reward in mind. It might seem silly, but it works. Maybe it’s something like “I will try out that new church on Sunday, and afterward I will go to brunch with friends and share what I thought.” Give yourself a reason to look forward to going and getting through what seems daunting.
- Take one baby step. Maybe the first step to getting back in the gym is buying yourself a new pair of sneakers. Maybe you just drop in for a yoga class before buying a membership. Maybe you listen to a sermon online before showing up for a service. Maybe you buy a new book to read, text a friend about your plans, or call your mom for a pep talk.
You really can do hard things. You can be scared yet still show up. You can feel the fear and do it anyway.
It will be hard, but it will be worth it. Try one new, scary thing this week and report back– I bet you’ll be better for it.