A few months ago I got a call from a friend of mine asking if I’d consider applying for a creative director position at his fancy new start-up. The excitement of the opportunity was quickly overshadowed by a cloud questions.
Is this the right thing? Should we leave Chicago? What does my story have to say about all this?
I left home at 18 in search of risk and adventure. As such, I spent most of my life running around the country from one thing to the next. Some of it was circumstantial. Some you can chalk up to the “actor’s life.” But much of it was simply because I was afraid. Afraid that if I stayed anywhere too long people would find me out. And who wants that?
As Margaret and I contemplated the idea of leaving it became very clear we weren’t supposed to pursue the opportunity. At my most smug I triumphantly declared the reason for staying as, “I’m not done with this place!” And while some of that may be true, my smugness was wiped quickly from my face as the actual reality set in:
Something in me realized that staying would be far harder than going somewhere new where I could start over. Something in me realized that doing the harder thing would be the very best thing. Something in me realized I being called to do a new thing that seemingly was not a new thing at all: stay.
Leaving is no longer the riskiest thing for me.
The risky thing now is staying.
It is submitting to the painfully transforming process of community. It is doing a dumb thing at work and then having to show back up the next day to face those you’ve disappointed. It is telling the truth instead of protecting yourself. It is letting people love you in spite of your ugly and broken bits and then letting them gently guide you into the light. It is showing up to dinners instead of going home and feeling sorry for yourself. It is letting yourself go – in a good way.
For you the risky thing might be leaving. It might mean getting the hell out of dodge – and fast. But for others of you it might mean staying put… breathing… letting yourself go… and letting your community have its way with you.
Esther De Wall wrote about St. Benedict and his life as a monk.
I’ll end with her words on staying put as she says it much better than I could:
“Instead of this bewildering and exhausting rushing from one thing to another, monastic stability means accepting this particular community, this place and these people, this and no other, as the way to God. The man or woman who voluntarily limits himself or herself to one building and a few acres of ground for the rest of life is saying that contentment and fulfillment do not consist in constant change, that true happiness cannot necessarily be found anywhere other than in the place and this time.” - Esther De Wall | Seeking God, The Way of St. Benedict