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Learning to Fly


On the way to work this morning, I came across Emily P. Freeman's podcast, The Next Right Thing. I listened as she prayed the Prayer attributed to St. Francis. I heard these familiar words with new ears as I listened to her read it. I listened with my ears and listened with my heart.


I switched to another episode - the one titled "What Worked in 2021". Every year, Emily writes down a list of what worked and didn't work that year. I was riveted as she shared her list.


I have said countless times in the past week how happy I am to bid adieu to 2021.


Yes - a new year can be a touchstone for making important changes. Sort-of like the season of Lent:

  • "I am going to give up chocolate."

  • "I am going to count to ten before I react."

  • "I am going to be a much kinder person."

  • "The numbers on the scale will go down this year."

  • "I am going to write a letter to a different person each week."

We know how the story goes. Most of the time we don't stick to these resolutions. And whether we are aware at first or not, the guilt and shame...subtle at first...lands on our shoulders, makes it harder to breathe, and weighs us down.


Enough with the resolutions. My goal for 2022 is going to put one foot in front of the other and when I can't, I am not going to beat myself up.


I am afraid of flying. I have a dear friend who is an incredible pilot. I trust him with my life. He invites me on the regular to take me flying. I say no every time. I trust him, but I don't trust myself. I trust the plane. I'm just not very brave.


And that's okay.


Except when it's not.


Stick with me.


I often find myself in seasons of dis-ease and I don't know how to find healing.


But in 2021, I learned to fly, and the healing began.


For a number of years, I served on the board for a large organization. This organization experienced a number of significant transitions in my time on the board. I knew it was going to be hard work. I do not shy away from hard work. It was good work. It was important work.


I was soon asked to become President/Chair and I said yes.


And then Covid hit.


Being part of a board is challenging work on a good day. Being the chair of a board in the midst of a global crisis is exceptionally difficult. And for me, being the chair of a board that represents people who are in the midst of their own personal/professional crises was soul-crushing. I had my own s&*t to deal with but mostly because I wanted to make everyone feel better. I wanted to make everyone happy. I am a "fixer" and I couldn't fix this.


I worked hard to be a good leader and I was a good leader. What I didn't realize was that in stepping into this role, friendships and relationships would change. Friendships and relationships I counted on would break. Friendships and relationships would end.


On Palm Sunday of this past year, I found my wings.


I resigned as chair of the board and I resigned from the board effective immediately. I reached out to individuals who I felt I could not be in relationship with anymore and let them know that it was time for a break - maybe for good. It was difficult, but I stepped out of my comfort zone and let them know this. It was sloppy and emotional. There were tears - lots of tears. There was hurt and anger, ugly emails and unanswered questions.


And...there was freedom.


I woke up the next morning feeling lighter than I had felt in years. I did not realize just how unhappy I had become.


I was asked by several people why I quit.


I didn't quit.


I learned to fly.


In doing so, I found hope and saw the face of Christ in new ways. I made space on the board for new leadership. I found new friendships outside of that organization that feed my soul. I found new stories to tell. I rediscovered my love for photography. I pushed myself in new and challenging ways. I made goals and met a couple of them. I released two books, signed with an agent, and signed a contract for a new book.


I still haven't taken my friend up on his offer to take me flying. His plane is in the shop so he has quit asking. I prefer terra firma for now.


But I did learn to fly.


I like the view from here.

 

I want to thank Emily P. Freeman for inspiring me and so many others. Do give her podcast a listen. It's a good one.


I also want to remind you that you are worthy of love. You are worthy of happiness. You are worthy of joy. Let me know how I might be able to support you.


(Photograph by Roger Hutchison, 2022)







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