Go back?” he thought. “No good at all! Go sideways? Impossible! Go forward? Only thing to do! On we go!J.R.R Tolkien, The Hobbit
For a year, probably more, we’d been unravelling. Not an unravelling that means we had been falling apart, but an intentional unravelling. The kind that knitters do when they realise that somewhere along the way they’d made a misstep. They’d missed a vital stitch, and it was beginning to show, so they grab a thread and begin to pull at it. Pull at all the work, watching it unravel, unwind, so they can move forward again without the gaps.
At the end of 2018 we drove north to find warmth, bundled the kids in the car and filled it with our tent, bathers, snorkles and all the best kind of road trip food. We spent New Years Eve driving along remote tracks, through sand dunes, finding the very best bays, and reefs for snorkelling in.
When we’d snorkel we’d always float close to one another, and the five of us would point, gesturing underwater at each other. Look at that!, our masked faces would say, did you see that?!
In the same way we’d been searching and seeking that year, my husband and I would talk in whispers in our dark tent on that trip; Look at that! Do you see this?
And as we drove through the vast landscape in our North West, we scanned the landscape of our lives and where we’d been so far. Where are we going? we’d ask, on those long drives. What are we hoping for? Where is God leading us? What feels more uncomfortable—staying where we are, or moving forward?
And we felt that He was leading us forward, out of our places of comfort, and showing us a bigger picture. Revealing to us the gaps in our belief systems, in our theology, shedding light on our search for the truth. Once we knew it was time to move forward, it became more and more difficult to stay in places that began to feel smaller and smaller. We didn’t fit anymore. So over the course of the next year we began to make decisions that would remove us from the spaces we’d belonged in for more than a decade.
The thing is, we are often judged for our outward actions, without the context of our inner growth but when we follow a path that takes us out of the familiar, it is never about approval—its about staying true to the convictions we hold, to the Voice we are hearing, to the story He’s weaving in our lives.
You see, it’s easy for people, comfortable, when you stay where they are. But our choices should never be contingent on the comfort or approval of others.
It was never about them, even if they thought it was.
Sometimes, the bravest and most right thing is to stay, and grow.
Other times, the bravest and most right thing is to uproot, and grow.
Either way, we cannot apologise for straining forward.
All along it is about us and our own story, and stories will not stay stagnant.
The plot of our journey sometimes reaches a crux, and we have a decision to make. We can’t stay stuck in the middle.
To move forward means a conscious choosing to forget what lies behind, strain forward to what lies ahead, and hold true to what it is we’ve already attained (Phil 3:12-16)
So we struggle forward, like struggling out of a tight-fitting t-shirt. Out of the confines that held us, and the limits placed on us, and the restrictions in front of us. We will not stay small, we will not shrink back, and we will not apologise.
Don’t apologise for evolving, for changing, for stretching, for moving. Don’t ever apologise for growing, and don’t look back.