Moving Beyond Past Experience Into Something New

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And when those people reflect on their suffering, they often uncover a similar truth: that struggle helped them to build deep reservoirs of strength.

Not all growth happens this way. But a great deal of our growth does come when we put our shoulder into what’s painful. We choose to, or have to, step beyond the margins of our past experience and do something hard and new.

Greitens, Eric (2015-03-10). Resilience: Hard-Won Wisdom for Living a Better Life (Kindle Locations 128-131). Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Kindle Edition.

I was content with my life when Cityteam called and asked if I’d be interested in moving to Portland, OR, and taking over as City Director.  I loved my current job.  I loved my friends.  I loved my mortgage.  My youngest was only a few months old and my wife decided to take a break from teaching to be a stay-at-home mom.  Changing jobs, even within the same company, wasn’t even on my radar.

I promised Cityteam that I’d pray over the weekend.  I told Christi about the call, expecting her to laugh at the idea.  Much to my surprise, she looked thoughtful, saying, “You know, I think we need to pray about this one.”  So we did.

We felt God say, “You can stay where you are if you’d like.  If you do, next year will be pretty much like this one.  If you go to Portland, though, I will show you something new.  You will learn a lot.  I will bless you if you go on this adventure with me.”

We couldn’t pass an offer like that up.  So we packed everything up, rented out our house, and moved thousands of miles from friends and family to a state neither of us knew much about.  We landed in Portland on January 1, 2012.

And, it’s been hard.  Don’t get me wrong, the awesome outweighs the crap, but I’d be lying if I didn’t admit things were rough.  I learned a lot.

  • I learned that moving to a new place with two introverted family members and one shy extrovert is really hard on the family.
  • Being the ‘young punk’ who replaced a much-loved and burnt-out leader of over 20 years is something I learned I never want to do again.
  • Introducing change into an organization and team that didn’t want to change but had to if they wanted to still have jobs in a year was excruciatingly painful.
  • Taking ideas from inception to execution with a team that didn’t want change was perplexing.
  • Being told  I couldn’t just fire everyone and start over created an interesting challenge.
  • Learning that change only happened at the speed of relationship was a painful ‘Ah-ha’ moment.

We’ve been here a little over three years.  I wouldn’t exchange the pain and the experience for anything.  We’ve grown closer as a family.  We’ve had some amazing adventures.  We’ve learned that we really like it here in the Pacific Northwest and could live here for a long time, God willing.  I’ve learned to talk with God and rely on Him in ways I didn’t before.

I feel like God sent me up here to get an ‘MBA’ (figuratively speaking) in leadership – whether it’s leading my family or in my organization.  The good news is that I didn’t have to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to do it. (Although we still have a little debt to pay off.)

Had we run away from the fear of change, we wouldn’t have experienced all this.

Had we run away from the pain of change, we’d wouldn’t have experienced all this.

All journeys begin with fear, pain, and change.  Leaning into the experience when you want to shy away is what make a mediocre story a grand adventure.

photo by Heather Weaver