Wednesday, June 10, 2015

When You Feel Out of Place


As soon as I arrived at the house where the backyard cookout was being held, I thought about turning around and heading back home. 

I watched a young couple with their kids get out of the car next to me. I fiddled with my sunglasses and flipped the visor mirror a few times, while I tried to decide if I should walk in with them or wait and go in afterward. 

I finally grabbed my bowl of potato salad and joined them.

It was my first time to attend a gathering of creative women entrepreneurs -- photographers, bloggers and small business owners -- I’d recently discovered online. I hadn’t met any of them in person yet but they invited me to a group cookout that included spouses and kids.



Even though I was excited to meet them, I told a friend I’d feel awkward going by myself and I thought I'd decline. 

She scolded me {in the nicest possible way} and said if I didn’t go I’d end up wondering what I might have missed.

So I RSVPd yes, and before I could change my mind I said I’d bring the potato salad. 

Going to gatherings alone where I don’t know a soul isn’t really my idea of a fun night. 

I much prefer friend-to-friend coffee or get-togethers over parties any day. I can make small talk just fine, but it takes a little work and it's more of an effort for me. 



But I’ve had some ideas lately — a few future dreams and plans that I’ve labeled as “someday” and tucked away — that have been surprising me at every corner. Where I didn't notice them before, it now seems as if I'm seeing versions of my ideas everywhere.

So I thought maybe I should pursue them instead. 

And it led me straight to this group called Pursuit. {You can check them out here.}

It’s a nationwide group of women that cultivate community and connect with each other about their creative pursuits. 

I was surprised to discover that there was a local group near me, and that’s how I found myself holding a bowl of potato salad at a family cookout where I didn’t know a soul. 



As I introduced myself, it seemed that everyone already knew each other as they paired off in groups to chat, holding babies and corralling kids. 

Everyone was young, married and wearing shorts, and I was the lone single girl {much older than they were} in black capris with sweat dripping down my back on the un-airconditioned sunporch. 

But I served myself a glass of iced tea and made my way around the room, making small talk, even though it was sometimes awkward and forced.



I talked decorating and dating websites with a newlywed couple who met online.

I chatted about the advantages of Florida’s beaches with a couple from Buffalo.

I gabbed about my fondness for Atlanta with a couple who recently left there.

I dished about photography and writing with three young moms working their own businesses. 

Have you ever felt so out of place that you knew this was the place that could spark the next step on your journey? 


I don't know about you, but when I refuse to shy away from a place that makes me uncomfortable, I feel a surge of character flowing through me that sure enough leads to hope. 

{Just as scripture says it will in Romans 5:3-4}

Maybe it’s just one brave step outside of your normal circle that ends up being a catalyst for jumping off that ledge someday into a great big adventure. 

Or it could be the refusal to listen to that voice that says ‘hey, you don’t fit in here,’ that spurs you onward to prove it wrong.

Continuing to hope and plan and have faith when it looks impossible could be the miracle waiting to happen that will eventually bring your dreams to life.  



And when finally you emerge from the season of shadows, doubts and uncertainty, just like a rainbow in the night sky after a Florida thunderstorm, you'll get a glimpse of your own promised land that God has already purposed for you.

I'm praying and believing that for you {and for me too}.

At the cookout as the families grilled burgers and hot dogs for the kids, I was ready to cool off in my car on the ride home. 

As I headed toward the door, I heard one of the husbands say, "Anybody want some potato salad?" 

Because it's certainly no picnic without the potato salad. 




I'm linking up with my friends at Holley Gerth's place at Coffee for your Heart and Bonnie Gray at the Faith Barista. Join us there for more posts from my blogging friends!





22 comments:

  1. Wow, that would be difficult for me, also. But, you did it, you took a step of faith! Praying right now that God would open doors for your dreams. GB~

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    1. Damarise,
      Thank you for your sweet words of encouragement and I'm grateful for your prayers!

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  2. Well Miss Potato Salad, I'm sooo sorry I had to scold you but I'm glad you think I did it in a nice way at least!!! LOL! xoxo So proud of your stepping out!! You are an inspiration!! I wanna be brave like you when I grow up : )

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    1. Heather,
      It wasn't really that you scolded me as much as shamed me -- haha - -is that a better word? I know I wouldn't have gone if it weren't for you! And we all need those friends who push us to be better versions of ourselves! :)

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  3. This is great! I found this via Coffee For Your Heart, and I am so encouraged by this reminder to keep persisting and showing up even when you feel out of place. I just started blogging a few months ago, and have felt that way sometimes as I look at all the beautiful established blogs out there. I need to take steps to be brave like you and show up even when it's hard! Thanks for sharing!

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    1. Lauren,
      Thank you so much for stopping by today and offering your words of encouragement! I know what you mean about looking at the beautiful blogs out there and wondering if our words matter, but we speak to our own little audiences and your voice would be missed if you weren't here to share your story!

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  4. You're lighting the pathway for me, friend. Your courage speaks to my dread of the same kind of get togethers, meetings, gatherings where I don't know a soul that are quickly coming into view as we prepare to move on.

    I'll remember how brave you were. And know that the same God who walked with you promises to walk with me, too.

    Hugs!

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    1. Linda,
      Meeting new friends after moving somewhere new can be exciting but it does take time and effort, doesn't it? I always find it such a gift to discover who God brings to my path to offer their friendship for a season {or longer} in ways I wouldn't expect! Praying for you as you move to discover new kindreds! :)

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  5. Wow, Valerie, sometimes I think you live inside my head! Praying that we will see those promised lands as we obediently follow Him!

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    1. Oh Ellen -- me too! So grateful for your encouraging words!

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  6. Hi Valerie- This is so great- I feel out of place often- having a 6yr old and teens I never quite fit in- I am too old for the young moms and have a young one to care for with the teen moms! So I can relate to shying away for going to things that will make me feel uncomfortable. I love this that your wrote "And when finally you emerge from the season of shadows, doubts and uncertainty, just like a rainbow in the night sky after a Florida thunderstorm, you'll get a glimpse of your own promised land that God has already purposed for you." this is so good to think about.God having a promised land for me! Thanks also for sharing about the pursuit- I am going to look into that- I am not a photographer though so don't know if that would matter? Anyway so thankful for you and your beautiful honest and inspiring posts! and would love to try that potato salad :) sounds yummy!

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    1. Susie,
      I can imagine how you live in two different worlds with your teenagers and your grade-schooler! I feel like I'm always in-between something somedays but sometimes those are the places where I most feel God's presence and even though they're uncomfortable, I have to believe they serve a purpose. And I know yours do too, friend!

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  7. Oh Valerie...I'd be right there with you sweating in capris! I hesitate to attend things I feel out of place in too. I recently signed up bravely to attend my first "small" blogging meet up! I am traveling to Nashville, TN in August, and I don't know anyone going! It is those little brave steps that seem to be blessings. LOOK at those photos and conversations you had! Sweet. Awkward yes. Good yes. Perhaps gives us the courage to go forward to the unknown in the future again. Great post! Jenn

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    1. Jenn,
      I'm so excited you're going to a blogging meetup! I can't wait to hear all about it! We will definitely have to compare notes on our big steps out of our comfort zones this summer! :)

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  8. Such great encouragement to step out of the shadows, which can be so hard for me. I'm a stand-in-the-corner-and-get-the-lay-of-the-land girl. :) But, you are right...God does meet our brave steps and gives us the confidence to take more. Thanks for the permission to be a little scared and for the nudge to move anyways. You neighbor at #faithbarista.

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    1. Tiffany,
      So glad you stopped by! I'm a stand in the corner gal too! :) We can stand there together!

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  9. Wow, Valerie! You are so brave! Good for you! Do keep following your dreams. :) You are so gifted. I love this line - "And when finally you emerge from the season of shadows, doubts and uncertainty, just like a rainbow in the night sky after a Florida thunderstorm, you'll get a glimpse of your own promised land that God has already purposed for you." So beautifully said. Thank you. How I long for that promised land! :) Hugs!

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    1. Trudy,
      Praying for that promised land for you, my friend! :)

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  10. I just joined some networking groups. I am half terrified and half excited! I need to get out of my comfort zones and get to know new people!
    I am proud of you for going! :)

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    1. Sarah,
      I'll be thinking of you! You hit the nail on the head -- it's terrifying and exciting at the same time! We'll share notes and compare our experiences!

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  11. Wow, I this line so got to me: "Have you ever felt so out of place that you knew this was the place that could spark the next step on your journey?" I am feeling so out of place right now! I'm hoping to see this as a next step on an exciting journey instead of a jolting detour! Thank you for sharing this encouraging post. I think I'm going to have to bookmark this one!
    Christy

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    1. Christy,
      I can only imagine the challenges of a move, but you're right, it really is the next stop on an exciting journey! Praying for you to settle in and feel at home!

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