If looks could kill, my life would most certainly have been over! The young lady shot daggers straight through me when I called out her name as the next in line to complete the team challenge. Another young lady refused to meet my glance as if somehow she could just disappear from the radar and fade into oblivion. One young man suddenly became sick, another thirsty, and the fear of being stretched continued to threaten any hope of achieving.
Each push was met with resistance, anger, fear and nervous laughter. The group of teens was desperate to be taken outside of the burdens of their daily lives, but just learning to play posed a difficult challenge. It was my job to stretch them and help them realize they were capable of so much more than they had ever considered.
Their hope had been limited by their difficult circumstances. If I could get them to embrace the stretching, then they could give themselves permission to dream again. If they could learn to dream again, then the burdens of their young lives would be lessened. I could not change their circumstances, but I could show them how to come out on the other side with confidence, with willingness to trust and with motivation to want more for themselves.
“Man’s mind, stretched by a new idea, never goes back to its original dimensions.” Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr.
Rarely do I meet a person of any age who enjoys being stretched. It’s not something I enjoy either, but there is a profound truth to allowing ourselves to be stretched.
Beauty emerges beyond “the stretching.” (http://clicktotweet.com/9IP26)
It’s inevitable. Once we embrace stretching as a necessary part of growing, possibilities are blown wide open, and everything changes. The problem is that we can get so caught up in routine and the difficulties of daily life, we forget how to push ourselves outside of our comfy and sometimes confining box into new adventures. The result is a stifling existence which if allowed to remain, will steal our joy and our hope.
Perhaps you have been there at some point in your own life. I have, and it is a desperate and empty place.
These kids have been there for a long time. They did not choose to be, but they had trudged through their situations so long, giving all they had to take care of a loved one who could not care for themselves. There was nothing left to nourish their own heart. The thought of how to even begin was too daunting for them, so it was easier to close up to being stretched and settle for less.
I had to plant three truths into their heart in order to open their minds up to dreaming again, to beauty again.
Things are not as difficult as they seem. Daily life can be overwhelming, to the point of merely functioning from one moment to the next. Sometimes we must step back from the situation and read between the lines. Sometimes there is more than one way to get to where we want to be, and being willing to think outside of the box can provide a huge benefit through the stretching.
Always be willing to ask for help. Life should never be done alone. Burdens should never be carried alone. People need people, and asking for help is crucial to coming out on the other side of the stretching. When we get so caught up in doing “everything” ourselves, we miss out on the strength of companionship and the motivation and encouragement it brings through the stretching. The celebration is much sweeter when we have someone traveling with us.
Being comfortable is not the goal. There is something to be said for being uncomfortable. It forces us toward change…toward growth. Allowing ourselves to be uncomfortable for the sake of growing is a good thing. In this space of uncertainty, our spirits give birth to courage, and courage gives birth to dreaming.
When we are willing to be uncomfortable, the impossible becomes possible. (http://clicktotweet.com/329R5)
The best part of working with this group of teens is watching the smiles light up faces where doubt, fear and anger resided. Watching them become engaged with each other and support each other through the stretching is rewarding. When we end the day, and I ask them what they want to do with their lives, the answers are remarkable.
Each one of them has a dream and a renewed spirit. Their burden has been made lighter as joy created hope. Most importantly, each one has gone through the stretching and come out on the other side with a greater sense of who they are and knowing they can do so much more than they ever imagined, in spite of their circumstances.
It is the same for all of us. There is beauty beyond the stretching, if we are willing to embrace it, lean into it and allow it to change us. Only in the stretching can we truly become who we were created to be.