What I am learning: in a world filled with constant change, to choose to stay can be a brave choice. While we celebrate new things, we need to recognize what it takes to stay. Moving to a new city, or staying where we are; starting a new job, or staying where we are; ending a relationship or choosing to fight for it — it is all brave.
We glorify change, and obviously those big life decisions are incredibly courageous and important. I have made them in those seasons and have learned and grown in exponential ways. But right now I am learning how much courage it actually takes to stay when that is what we are asked or invited to do.
I think of friends in my life right now who are making the brave choice to move to a new city, and other friends who are making the brave choice to stay where they are. Or courageous friends who are starting new jobs, and the equally courageous choosing to stay where they have been and to continue to invest. Or friends who feel like they have possibilities in their lives that potentially would take them in two different directions, but choose to carefully walk both paths until the Lord says differently.
I have had a hard year both relationally and in my job; if you have read or been around me this is no surprise. I have had many days where I felt like leaving would actually be the easier choice. When life takes a lot of energy and work or is just plain scary, it seems easier to run sometimes. (This, so kindly, was identified by my chiropractor as the flight part of the fight or flight stress response.)
Staying requires so much courage. Because staying may seem like the passive choice, but really it takes just as much courage/energy/intentionality/fill-in-the-blank as leaving does. It is not the lazy option, it actually requires quite a lot of work.
Here is where I start talking about things I don’t actually know about: weightlifting. As I was writing about all of this, I thought, “Staying is like the hold when you lift weights. Just as much growth is being done in that as the push.” And then I asked myself, “Is that even true?” because, big surprise, I do not spend a lot of time lifting. So I turned to the experts.
My good friend Google taught me about something called static training. “This concept is based on the idea that by forcing the muscle to work only when it is maximally contracted and using the heaviest weight possible, you can optimize its growth potential.” (Found here.)
Basically, growth does not always happen in movement. Sometimes, often in fact, it happens in the static, in the staying. Sort of like the seed in the ground; there is not a whole lot of movement happening when something is planted, and yet it is where we see all the growth. Life is not a graph where growth necessitates movement. It often happens in the waiting, in the stillness. Maybe it is one of the reasons for the three days of waiting while Jesus was in the tomb — Jesus knew that growth and commitment happens in the staying, in the waiting.
The other thing I am learning, right alongside this: staying is hard but also FUN. In any area of our lives, when we stay we get to dive deeper, invest, look down the road and see lots of possibilities. Big surprise, staying is both good and hard. We don’t always have to be Eeyore about the season we are in. Let’s find the JOY. 🙂
So here is to you —
The ones who are leaving, making the move, taking the new job, starting fresh. Ending the bad relationship, believing you deserve something different. Here is to you, brave friend. Walk the path you have been asked to walk.
To the ones who are staying, committing to another year, to working it out. To not listening when fear tells you to run. To believing good will come from the steady, daily work. Here is to you, courageous friend. Walk the path you have been asked to walk.