What peanut M&Ms and the dentist have to do with flourishing

Dew and leaf

What does flourishing look like? Today it looks an orange temporary filling in my left molar and mascara stains on my cheeks. Let me explain.

My past experiences with the dental profession have not been great, and for over ten years I’ve been avoiding them altogether. That is until the other night when a chunk of my tooth broke on a peanut M&M. My avoidance days were over, and in a move of uncharacteristic decisiveness on my part I rang the next day to make an appointment.

Fast forward to this morning. I was a little anxious but thought I was holding it together quite well … until I stepped into the dental surgery.

By the time I’d filled in the new patient information card and sat down to wait I was rapidly spiralling into a hot mess. When the dental nurse called me in I had peeled off my coat, scarf and jacket and was trying to staunch a flood of tears with a tissue. I hadn’t realised I was that anxious.

Thanks to a lovely and understanding dentist, forty-five minutes later I walked out with my temporary filling and two new appointments for a permanent filling and to deal with a few other minor issues that have developed over the dentist-free years. (Note: I’m not encouraging anyone else to avoid regular dental check-ups, I’m very lucky not to have any major issues.)

So why do I call this flourishing? Because today I stopped avoiding one of my fears and faced it. And despite the anxiety and the tears, it wasn’t as bad as I thought it might be.

Yes, it helped to have a dentist who understood my anxiety, and who had a strategy for helping me through it. And that’s the point, I got through it instead of running away from it.

I call it flourishing because I walked out feeling a little lighter and a little stronger, as if a weight had been lifted, and it has.

I call it flourishing because today I feel just a little more like the me I was created to be.

Image sourced here.

When replacing fly screen is the first step to writing

NaBloPoMo November 2013

Have you ever noticed that the things you say you want to do are often the very things you seem to avoid?

I’ve been telling myself for over two years that I’m going to replace the fly screen on the sliding door (trust me, in Australia you need fly screens) because my darling (I use that term loosely in this context) cat Ebony has torn a hole big enough to walk through.

Two summers without fly ‘proof’ fly screen! What was I thinking?

The truth is that I didn’t know exactly how to go about replacing the fly screen. I’m great at procrastination; not so great at asking for help.

Rationalisation is easy. It’s not that important (which it’s not if you want to keep the glass door closed all year round!). I’ll get around to it. I’ll make sure I do it before next summer. There are other things I need to do right now …

But underneath all the rationalisation is a quiet, sneaky, lurking little liar.

Fear whispers that you don’t need to do anything. The status quo is okay, desirable even. There’s no need to change a thing. Whatever you want to do, it’s not that important.

Are you listening? You barely notice the whispers at first.

But what if you ignore the whispers? What if you keep moving towards whatever you want to do?

When pushed, fear pushes back. More direct, more aggressive this time. Don’t try that thing you’ve been dreaming about. Don’t risk humiliation or failure. You’re not good enough. You don’t have what it takes. You don’t have anything to offer. Who do you think you are?

Am I still talking about fly screen? Yes. And no.

Last week I measured the screen door (and a couple of windows that had suffered the same treatment). I went to the hardware store and bought pet ‘resistant’ fly screen and the appropriate tools for installing it. I asked my Dad for help, and by that afternoon we had replaced the old with the new.

Despite how long it took me, I have a ridiculous sense of satisfaction. Fear doesn’t have to get the last word.

This morning I woke to a post about National Blog Posting Month. Okay, it’s already the 2nd of November in Australia, but it feels like an invitation to kick sand in the face of fear and do something else I’ve been too scared to do until now. Write something every day for a month and launch it out into the blogosphere.

Join me in the journey. It could get interesting.

Book Review: Lioness Arising

The lioness is a powerful image; a metaphor used to good effect in Lisa Bevere’s latest book Lioness Arising, the first from my Shelf of the Unread. Lioness Arising is a non-fiction book on Christian living; specifically, it is a call for Christian women to wake up and rise in strength together to change our world.

Lisa combines scripture with an exploration of the characteristics of lionesses to reveal strength and courage in women. A lioness is strong, powerful, fierce, fearless and strategic as well as beautiful, graceful, gentle, tender and nurturing. In her own words, Lisa has “come to see the lioness as a picture of how every daughter of the Most High can embrace her strength, develop courage, and effect change in her world.”

It is worth noting that although Lisa shares some of her own experiences in making a difference in her spheres of influence (from bringing hope to trafficked sex workers in Mumbai to bringing change in her son’s required reading at school), this book is not a road map or a blue print. It is an invitation, a wake-up call, to rise up, see what God is doing, and bring all that he has created in us, and gifted to us, to join him.

So what were my impressions? I’ll say right up front that I really liked this book, and having now read it twice in one month, my copy is full of pencilled underlining (my apologies to the purists) and post-it notes wherever an insight, a story or a point particularly caught my attention. Many times it felt like Lisa was having a conversation with me personally, knowing my story, my journey. This book spoke to me, reminded me of who I am in Christ, encouraged me to strengthen my relationships with other Christian women, and to keep following the path God is laying out before me. It challenged me, as did Half the Sky (which is also quoted in this book), not to be a bystander. I recommend Lioness Arising as a book worth reading, for women and men.

I think it’s worth finishing off with the book’s dedication:

To all my lioness sisters who feel something wild, fierce, and beautiful stirring within them.

You are stunning.
You were born for this moment.
Don’t be afraid of your strength, questions or insights.
Awaken, rise up, and dare to realize all you were created to be.