Zeph Daily 31

Morning Zephyrs! Julie here.
May you be blessed by this photo of me, around age 6 or 7, rocking a pink tracksuit and cherry red dolly shoes with white socks. You may be glad to know that, despite lockdown, I am not wearing a similar outfit this morning…

Image may contain: 2 people, people standing

I am, of course, the slightly smaller one at the back holding the bicycle. The girl in the blue velour tracksuit is my childhood best friend. God bless the 1980s.
The blue bike wasn’t mine – it was hers. I just held it for the picture because I thought it was cool and would make me look cooler too.

I had a bike. It was pink (matched my tracksuit!). I used to ride it in our family garden. I say ‘ride it’. I mainly pushed myself up and down on the very flat, very narrow path behind the house, with at least one of my feet firmly planted on the floor at all times. Every now and again, I’d remember that I COULD ride a bike, and pedal. Then I’d get scared, start to wobble, and put my feet down again…

I used to envy my older brothers and my friend – she was always far more daring than I, that’s why we made a good pair, we balanced each other out. They used to fly down our long, sloped drive on their bikes and round the corner in the road without a moment’s thought. And I’d slowly waddle in their wake, with my bike between my knees. I did try the flying down the drive thing a couple of times, but I was always terrified that a car would suddenly drive round the corner and that would be the end of that – and me.

I’m not a very brave person, you see. I’m a worrier, I like to play it safe. And I was VERY good at that, following the rules, playing it safe. Which did mean I never got knocked off my bike, never fell off my bike, only ever broke one bone as a child (which I maintain was my brother and my cousin’s fault, not mine!). But I think I probably missed out on a lot of good things too… because I was too scared.

As an adult, I’ve tried to push myself out of my comfort zone more. It still occasionally amazes me (and those who knew me well when I was younger) that I make a living out of talking to hundreds of people at a time – my school reports, without exception, always said “Julie needs to speak up more in class” and, in sixth form, I refused to read a piece I’d written at my school’s presentation evening, as the thought of public speaking terrified me. But now? I love it! There is nothing better than telling stories to a room full of people. Thank goodness for those who come along and uncover hidden gifts, eh?

Thing is, if John hadn’t come along and challenged me to tell the story in that early assembly we did together, my life could have looked very different. And if I hadn’t been listening to God and that push to say yes, I may never have become a storyteller. And I can’t imagine my life without that…

The Gospels are full of stories of people who encountered Jesus and dared to step out of their comfort zone to follow him – his disciples, the woman with the jar of perfume, Zacchaeus, Mary and Martha. But there were also those who were terrified of what following him might mean, of the things they’d have to give up, the disruption that would follow. I hate to think I would have been like one of the religious leaders, but I can’t quite fully rule it out…

I still try and push myself out of my comfort zone to do things that scare me – when they’re the right things to be trying. And it occurred to me that, along with all the other opportunities that this lockdown may afford, perhaps for some of us, this could be our time to sit in the belly of the whale. To listen to God and see what it is he would like us to be doing. The stuff he tries to tell us when life is too noisy for us to hear him. The stuff we ignore because we can pretend life is too noisy for us to hear him…

Take a minute or two now to try and find a silence, a stillness, and see what your heart hears…

Then, listen… Cos if you don’t go, then you’ll never know…

I am so glad I took that uncomfortable first step on the storytelling road… Who knows where our next uncomfortable first steps could take us? Have good days, Zephyrs!

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