Getting Out of the Boat

Warning: the following post reflects my personal religious views. While I pride myself in being of service to people of all backgrounds and beliefs, my faith is intertwined with who I am. If that’s a problem, feel free to keep browsing the interwebs. Might I suggest visiting this list of the 20 cutest kittens ever? Surely we can all agree that is time well spent!

For Patrick’s First Communion we bought him a copy of the Adventure Bible, which he has been faithfully working his way through since the spring. As he finally reached the end, we started talking about which stories were his favorite. The first one he mentioned was Jesus walking on water. The conversation that came followed brought me close to tears.

Before I can explain why, I need to back up a few months. Earlier this summer I made the decision to leave a job I loved to embrace a new opportunity. It was something I didn’t see coming or seek out, but when it presented itself, I knew I had to push myself and follow the advice I have been giving to others.

Despite all the energy I had poured into my former mission and how much it defined who I am, the decision to move on was one I never doubted. My prayers have never been for things to be easy, but for God to make His will clear, and that is what He did for me through this journey. What followed the decision was simultaneously heart-wrenching and peaceful. I knew I was making the right choice, but that doesn’t mean it was a simple process. My actions impacted so many people, and I knew I had a million rational justifications for staying put. Nobody would blame me if I stayed the course, and choosing to leave would mean asking more of people who were already giving everything they had. As a recovering people-pleaser, I struggled more with the implications of my actions on others than questioning the decision itself. As I left the office for the last time, I started crying as soon as I got in the car and didn’t stop until I had to pull it together to pick my son up from daycare. But through it all, I had peace in knowing God needed me somewhere else.

Everyone should have the experience of willingly walking away from something they love, simply because such acts of faith leave us open to greater possibilities. Through this journey I learned that while my work consumed a big part of my world, it was all still relatively small through others’ perspectives. The pressure I had self-imposed for so long was something I didn’t have to continue carrying with me. I could step back and see myself and my organization through objective eyes, and suddenly the problems that seemed so pressing every day didn’t carry quite the same intensity. It’s a blessing to know you’re valued, but also that you’re not needed as much as you think you are. It’s bittersweet to see work moving forward without you, but also liberating. Not everyone is scrutinizing our every move like we assume we are as heroines of our own narratives.

In talking with Patrick I shared that the story of Jesus calling Peter out of the boat was, to me, the most applicable to our daily lives. God created us with the potential to change the world, and yet we often stay asleep in the boat or hope for calmer seas. Jesus challenges us to embrace what seems impossible, not just to find comfort in uncertainty but boldly put ourselves in a position of risk. If this story was just about the importance of turning to God when we're afraid, Jesus' divine power could have been shown through a simple conversation while out at sea. Instead, this is a call to action and example of how to live in faith. Jesus could have gone out on the lake with His disciples and clamed the storm as a reward for their belief. Or He and Peter could have gotten out of the boat together. But instead Jesus goes off on his own and leaves Peter to face this test. He then asks Peter to get out of the boat. To do something that defies logic and instinct. To make himself vulnerable and take a risk. It's easy to affirm what we believe, but it takes radical trust in God's will to live our lives outside the boat rather than inside its comfort.

Now “getting out of the boat” has been a common conversation with my boys. Instead of asking them how school went each day, we talk about how they “got out of the boat” by sitting with someone new at lunch, being kind to a classmate who needed it, and other ways they could push outside their comfort zone. No matter what happens with this new job, the lessons learned have already been worth the risk!

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