Instead of allowing her fears and doubts to hamper new experiences and long-held dreams, Cathy begins to break free from the constraints of self-doubt and expectations of others. She decides to eat desserts instead of main meals, She redesigns her back garden by installing a very large swimming pool, (much to the chagrin of her neighbours) and she even sunbaths nude in her yard (telling her estranged husband that she had always wanted to take the plunge but was previously too self-conscious about her body and worried about what people would think of her).
Whilst I'm not promoting naked sunbathing, for a myriad of reasons including low-lying fences, I love watching Cathy, this fictional character, live in such a fearless and bold manner.
For Cathy dying was the only thing that really made her want to live. And living wasn't just surviving or existing to her, but rather taking chances, inviting new experiences, and cherishing those that she loved. Each day was going to be lived with purpose and every moment was precious.
It certainly made me think about my philosophy and approach to life; do I take chances and do I live boldly?
On Sunday afternoon I met with Emily, my new church mentor. I knew before I stepped over the threshold of her house that I would be asking her about living boldly and direction. I wanted someone to push me; I needed a little bit of tough love.
The luncheon meeting
As we talked over lunch, I felt exceptionally blessed that God had provided a mentor that truly understood my fears and my desires. Emily was patient and thoughtful whilst I spewed out my current frustrations and feelings of purposelessness. I spoke about my desire to study abroad, my desire to escape other's expectations for my life, and I shared my fears about taking such a giant leap. Could I do it? Was I capable of such change? I'm a girl that tends to like plans and continuity and safety. I'm certainly not a Cathy, and yet when I watch her on that screen I crave and yearn to be her, minus the life threatening illness of course.
At one point in our discussion I got a little of the tough love I was craving from my mentor. I knew that once certain questions came up, I would have to face the reality of what I was feeling.
The first question Emily asked was 'Why was I scared' and 'what was holding me back'?
The second was 'Had I consulted God on these issues'?
I haven't had too many aha moments in my life. But when Emily raised these two points at lunch that day, I felt the answers align. It was if I always knew, but just couldn't articulate how I truly felt.
It was then, and only then that I realised that the two questions were in fact one. I wasn't consulting God on what to do or how to do it. I wasn't even asking him if I could do it because I was scared that he wouldn't answer me.
I was stunting my growth, being swallowed by fears, and worrying to the point of creating grief because I didn't think that God would reveal the answers to me or worst he wasn't interested.
What was I thinking? Maybe I wasn't.
No, there's no debating or analysing, I know I wasn't thinking clearly. And I wasn't being trusting or faithful either.
So my homework this week, set by Emily of course, has been 'not' to think or analyse or reason or worry about my next step. Even though I want to take chances and be brave, I need to know that I am stepping out into a place and setting that God wants me. It isn't always about what we want, because let's face it when God wants us somewhere it always ends up being the right place for us (as well as being pretty awesome and fulfilling).
So my fear about being bold and brave is being shelved this week. Instead I'm going to be prayerful and trusting in Gods purpose for my life; it is then that I will receive and be receptive to his leading.
In Proverbs 19:20-21 it says: Hear counsel, receive instruction, and accept correction that you may be wise in the time to come. Many plans are in a man's mind, but it is the Lord's purpose for him that will stand.
Alison Barkley lives in Newcastle and is a post graduate student at Macleay College in Sydney in book editing and publishing.
Alison Barkley's previous articles may be viewed at www.pressserviceinternational.org/alison-barkley.html