My second son and I were on our annual retreat. It’s been a mother-son tradition ever since the FOURCE was young that they had individual time with me. Back then I would take them to breakfast, but as the years have passed the tradition has evolved into an annual (or mini-quarterly) experience, revolving around a point of connection we share.
For the last four or five years, Troy and I have had a “business retreat”. Initially, it was to support our new enterprises. He had started a childcare event agency, and I was doing construction. We’d discuss marketing, client care, finances, program and employee development, and stuff like that.
In recent years, ministry development has become a key component because we both have leadership roles in our churches. We are often up late sharing ideas, brainstorming, and clarifying where we feel God is leading us in ministry and business. And, we always include some fun like hiking or seeing a movie.
Our retreats, while always enjoyable and beneficial, had become a bit predictable. Which is why this past August, I was totally unprepared for what happened.
I guess it began when I told Troy I had been praying about returning to school. I shared that while I loved what I was doing; I felt there was something more. I explained that I wanted to “soar like an eagle,” and actually felt I was capable, but something was holding me back. The more I talked the more the metaphor came pouring out until finally I said, “I feel like an eagle caught in a trade wind!”
Troy was quiet for a long moment, and then he said something that rocks me to this day.
He said, “It seems to me, if you feel stuck in a trade wind, you aren’t flying high enough.”I still get chills thinking about that statement! He said it so matter-of-factly; I truly believe he was just thinking aloud. I don’t even think he thought it was profound, and perhaps you don’t either. But to me, it rang so true, that I was literally stunned for a moment.
This sparked my preoccupation with a question I’ve had ever since: What does it mean to fly higher?
So far, I’ve been reflecting on the times I do feel I’m flying. I may not be soaring as high as I’d like, but it’s high enough to know the freedom, joy and peace of a life in flight. I’ve identified three optimum flying conditions to date.
1. When I’m replenishing my soul. Spending time with God and getting to know him better;
enjoying the beauty of his creation, especially nature, art, and music; and bonding with my family, all lift my Spirit on eagle’s wings.
2. When I’m doing what I feel God has made me to do. Teaching, writing, learning new things, or organizing a vision into a plan, especially one that relates to helping people grow personally or spiritually is pure exhilaration! Not always easy, but exhilarating just the same.
3. When I’ve taken a risk outside of my comfort zone, trusting God was with me. Now this one is tricky because I can have so much anxiety traveling outside my comfort zone that I almost get ill. And risk-taking doesn’t always turn out the way I planned. Still, on those occasions when “I’ve done it,” and see how God has worked with me and through me, even in “failure”-- those are definitely ascension moments.
So now I’m on a mission to find opportunities to stretch my wings. I want to live the adventure God has placed in my heart, take more risks, and experience the delight of flight. For I truly believe that Troy’s words resonated so deeply because this is what God desires for me, as well. And what’s more, I’m starting to realize that the only real trade wind holding me back… is me.