I was talking with a friend yesterday. She was reflecting on an experience in her life where she has experienced significant growth. "Four years ago, I said I would NEVER lead a small group much less participate in one. Now I am leading one and, wow I have grown so much in my ability to be vulnerable in community." Never say never...
That conversation got me thinking about all the times when I said NEVER and what happened. Here are two:
In the fall of 1989, I remember watching the Hawaii IronMan on TV. I remember thinking, I will NEVER do that, its crazy. My "never" was primarily because I didn't think I would be able to do something like that. I mean come on, that's crazy - 140.6 miles, in one day, under your own power. That's insane! I could never do that!
Then in 2001 I met a group of guys at the gym who talked me into signing up for IronMan Florida with them. (Yes, peer pressure works.) I was excited about possibility that I MIGHT be able to do it. Those guys replaced my doubt with hope. I did what I said I would never do on November 9, 2002 in 14 hours and 21 minutes.
In Spring of 2006, after serving as an associate pastor where the senior pastor and I didn't always see eye to eye, I remember saying I would never be an associate again. NEVER... My "never" was based on fear going through the same challenges I previously experienced again.
In Fall of 2008, I had a conversation with my current lead pastor discussing the possibility of being an associate with him. I told him, "No" because of my previous experience. However, I couldn't get the idea out of my head. (The Holy Spirit's "peer pressure".) In January 2009, I called him back to see if the offer was still open. I knew from my conversation with him that this would be a different kind of appointment. (Not mention I had grown and matured quite a bit since my previous experience.) Now I get to serve with a great team, learning lots, and contributing in great ways to the mission of God through the church. This is a completely different experience than my previous experience.
WHAT I HAVE LEARNED...(in addition to the fact that I can be talked into just about anything) I wonder if saying "never" to something is actually just putting up a wall against possibility for fear of failure, hurt, and/or rejection.
What if our "nevers" are a protection against something we really need. For instance, my "never" about the triathlon wasn't about triathlon. It was about the possiblity of pushing myself to step out of my comfort zone and attempt difficult things. My "never" about being an associate was judging all future experiences by past experiences without discernment and nuance. I needed to learn to not pre-script the future, rather to learn lessons from the past to help me be discerning towards the future.
Now, whenever I say "I will never" it gives me pause to see what it is I am really guarding against, and how there may be a growing moment ahead of me.
WHAT ABOUT YOU?
What are some times when you have said, "I will never..." then some time later you found yourself doing that? What was the impact? How did you grow?