Sunday, August 5, 2012
Fight or Flight
I went to a creative workshop this weekend. It was a kind of art class, but also about journaling and listening to the Holy Spirit. Creativity, journaling and prayer—right up my alley, right? Not if wanting to run crying from the room half way through the first day is any indication! And I did. Fortunately, I was as far from the door as one could get in our crowded artsy-cluttered room.
When it comes to difficult situations, folks usually come to a “fight or flight” decision. I am usually a flight risk. I’ve never considered myself a fighter. In fact, I give up too easily when it comes to confrontation, disagreements and challenges.
As I sat there at my workshop, staring at my blank page, having no idea what to do while everyone around me buzzed cheerfully and excitedly about their work, admiring their neighbors’ creativity and ingenuity, I could feel the tears welling up in my eyes.
It was like that bad dream I often have before an important event. In the dream, I’m a young student who forgot to study for an important test. As I get to school and turn the test sheet over, I am horrified that I cannot answer a single question.
Thankfully, at the beginning of the workshop, our instructor read from a children’s book called, The Dot. In it, a teacher encourages a child who doesn’t feel like an artist to just make a dot on her page. “Now sign it,” the teacher tells her. The child goes on to create amazing art with her dots and later encourages a young boy who doesn’t feel like an artist to just draw a line, “then sign it.”
As I stared at my blank page, feeling like that young child, I dipped my trembling brush into the pain and made a swoosh. I soon finished the page and began another and another.
I still feel like my pages look like a kindergartner created them, but I love my new journal. It is a part of me. It has many more pages that I need to finish, and I plan to discipline myself to do it. Unlike our instructor, this will probably be the only journal of this kind that I will make, but I know that the Holy Spirit has lots more to say to me as I complete it.
At the end of the workshop, I had to make yet another fight or flight decision. We were instructed to pass around our beautiful nametags we had been given as came in the day before. Each person was to write a word or phrase about the others on the backs of their nametags. I had been so wrapped up in myself and my own fears, insecurities and frustrations, I had barely spoken to most of the other women in our class. What would I be able to write on their nametags? And mine would surely come back blank because they wouldn’t know what to write on mine! Again, I wanted to run crying from the room.
But I didn’t bolt. I looked at each nametag as they came around and I looked at each woman and I realized I had seen enough of each of them to be able to write something sincere on their nametags. And when I got mine back, it had words on it that brought me to tears… words that made me realize that maybe I’m not such a flight risk after all!