Life is all about choices, taking chances, and living without regret. Twice in the past month I have found myself in a group situation where I wasn’t completely comfortable. They were situations where my inner voice, my intuition, my conscience – whatever you want to call it – was speaking to me. I have been dealing with my regret over the first situation since it happened. When the next opportunity came along I didn’t want to miss it.
The first was a group that was naturally divided into two camps. Think of a roomful of conservatives and liberals or introverts and extroverts or even meat eaters and vegans.
There were invisible dividing lines that were sending a clear message to stay on your own side of the room. And I did. So did everyone else. It made for an uncomfortable evening. Not once did I make a concerted and genuine effort to step away from my comfort zone and try to understand what was happening on ‘the other side’.
Blessed are the peacemakers
The truth is that after thinking about that for a few days, I was disappointed in myself. I’m a middle child, a peacemaker. I’m not supposed to sit idly by and let misunderstandings fester. I’m supposed to dive in there and fix that stuff. That’s my nature not just my birth order talking. I don’t like to see people uncomfortable with each other when I’m pretty sure that if someone were brave enough to cross the floor and break the ice things could be different.
Have you heard the saying you only regret the chances you didn’t take? Well, that’s where I’m at now. The moment has passed me by and I am well aware the chance to broker that particular peace deal is not likely to come again. I have to live with that.
The second situation was a small group, less than 20 people. We did some small group work (my favourite thing ever *insert eye roll*) and then sat in a circle to watch the instructor – well – instruct.
I would have bailed if I had known group work was involved. Not a fan of small group activities. But I didn’t know and therefore I couldn’t gracefully bail at the last minute so I smiled and sucked it up and participated. And I didn’t die. It gets a little easier every time I have to do group work, but that doesn’t mean I like it.
Mind your manners…stop staring
Most people were called up to do some one-on-one instruction. I wasn’t one of them and I was starting to question why I had bothered to drive all the way into town for this. That’s about the time when I became aware of the fact that I kept staring at the young woman across the circle from me.
I’d look away and promptly look back. I couldn’t take my eyes off her. That’s also when I became aware that I was playing with the bracelet I was wearing. It was one of my favourites and I wore it a lot, a stretchy bracelet made of tiny round beads of black tourmaline. The thought that suddenly kept repeating in my mind was ‘give it to her’.
So naturally I argued with myself for the rest of the session. “Give it to her.” “Ok.” “No, wait – it’s my favourite.” “No it’s not and you can get another one if it means that much to you.” “Fine!” “Fine.”
And suddenly the session was over and she was putting on her coat to leave.
I’m not the fastest learner but I’d let one opportunity go by, I wasn’t about to let this one go by too. I bolted across the room and said, “I think I’m supposed to give this to you.” I took off the bracelet and gave it to her.
I told her quickly what it meant to me and what I hoped it would do for her. I was about to tell her that she could do whatever she wanted with it when I saw that she had already put it on and had covered it with her other hand. Clearly it had been received in the spirit in which it was given and was meant to be hers.
I won’t go into the rest of our conversation. I had agreed to maintain the confidentiality of the group and what happened in the room stayed in the room. Anyway, this is about my lesson not hers.
There have been a few very powerful moments in my life when I was obedient to the voice inside that afterward have bolstered my confidence that I had absolutely done the right thing and said the right words. This was one of those moments.
Have you been there? Had that voice inside prompting you to do something? Did you listen?
An appropriate answer brings joy to a person, and a well-timed word is a good thing. Proverbs 15:23
I don’t know if what I did or said made a difference to that young woman. I want to believe it did. More than that though, it made a difference in me and isn’t that just as important?