June 5, 2015

It’s All Good / Patti Lamb

Take courage, there is no place God let’s us go alone

Patti LambIt’s June, which means graduation party season is upon us. We already attended two open houses last weekend, and we still have several more to catch in the weekends ahead.

On the way home from a graduation party last Saturday, our 7-year-old daughter, Margaret, piped up from the back seat and said, “I just love June because I get to eat cake every weekend.”

While I agree that the cake is a bonus, I particularly enjoy seeing the graduates’ senior pictures and hearing about their plans for the future.

At one graduation party, a young woman filled me in on her future plans and, although excited, she admitted to being nervous about what lies ahead. She doesn’t know her roommate, and the college she will attend is hours away from home. She went on to tell me that most of her classmates plan to attend in-state universities, and they will have the company and support of each other.

Her nerves were getting the best of her, and, at one point, she started second guessing her choice to charter this new territory. I responded that I recently read a quote that said, “All progress takes place outside the comfort zone.”

“Venturing beyond our comfort zones is a phenomenon I think we all struggle with,” I added.

I told her that I remember feeling anxious before going away to college, but, by the grace of God, I made it through. And all these years beyond college graduation, I still struggle with the prospect of being a “newbie” at things.

I attended my first yoga class at the local recreation center recently, and I was totally out of my element. I didn’t know any of the lingo, and I was at least three moves behind the class. At one point, I remember thinking how lovely it would be if I were a superhero and could use my power to make myself invisible.

I realize a first-time yoga class pales in comparison to going away to college, but the point is that life never stops pushing us beyond our comfort zones. Sometimes we’re called to new scenery and circumstances because we choose them. Other times, we’re dragged to them by the loss of a job or a spouse, or some other painful change we didn’t see coming.

The good news is that when we find ourselves in unfamiliar circumstances, God goes with us. There’s no place he will let us go alone. I remember reading that “the will of God will never take you where the grace of God will not protect you.”

A beautiful Bible verse from Joshua illustrates this: “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go” (Jos 1:9).

Recently we celebrated Pentecost, and I was reminded that one of the gifts of the Holy Spirit is fortitude—the strength to face fear and remain courageous before it.

As we extend beyond our comfort zones, we transform into the people God calls us to be. It’s certainly not always comfortable, but we can call upon the Holy Spirit to help us exert the gift of fortitude.

Earlier this evening, I stumbled upon Margaret’s journal from her first-grade school year. I opened to a page with her illustrations of the life cycles of a butterfly. In the final stage, below her drawing of a butterfly, she had written this caption: “It was worth it! I can fly!”

Fortitude, friends.

(Patti Lamb, a member of St. Susanna Parish in Plainfield, is a regular columnist for The Criterion.)

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