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Lessons from Turtles

Charles and I were taking a walk the other day and saw a really large turtle in a field... probably the biggest we've ever seen in the "wilds".  The turtle was off the path quite a ways, and what struck me, even from a distance, was his outstretched head and neck. In fact, it was  the long neck sticking out from the shell  that probably caused us to even notice the turtle at all. 

Being quite a distance from us,  the turtle felt quite safe.  It was a good time to stick his neck out.  Had something come nearer, I'm quite sure the turtle would have felt threatened and immediately retreated into his shell.

It made me think about how easy it is to stick our neck out there when everything seems safe.  And how quickly we can retreat at the nearest perceived threat. I recently read a blog post by Seth Godin that said this:

You will be judged (or you will be ignored). Those are pretty much the only two choices. Being judged is uncomfortable.....The alternative, of course, is much safer. To be ignored. Up to you.

I don't know about you, but I do not like being misunderstood or rejected.  I recognize in myself a tendency to play it safe, so that I'm not rejected, judged, or misunderstood.   Maybe its human nature. We don't step out because we're afraid. Yet, the alternative may mean that we don't get to live out our sense of call, courageously being true to who we are and what we are to bring to the world. And we miss the blessing of the joy and fruit that comes with pursuing our calls and our destinies.

Every time I write something and post it publicly, I am acutely aware of the two ends of the spectrum- judged or ignored.  What if people don't like what I write?  What will they think? What if I'm misunderstood? Will people think less of me? Even though I love writing and believe I am called to write, it would be much easier, safer and more convenient  to just keep writing in my journal, as I have done for years. There, no one else sees what I write. There's no risk of rejection or being misunderstood or judged. Journal writing was safe.  Writing here is not safe.

Steven Pressfield calls this battle within "resistance".  Everyone who has ever stepped out towards a better future has experienced it.  Some learn to act in spite of the resistance and do extraordinary things, and some let the resistance determine whether they ever act or not.  And you can be sure that if resistance has its way, there will be no action.

You and I were created for more.  Let's stick our necks out there together for all of the right reasons!  Yes, we may be misunderstood, judged, and even rejected.  But in the end it seems to be a better alternative to being safe and never have stepped out courageously to pursue our callings, passions, and dreams. Acting, in spite of the resistance, can lead to new and exciting places of fruitfulness, joy and growth.

What, for you, takes a determined will to do even at the risk of being misunderstood, judged or rejected?  I would love to hear!


  1. Thanks for saying this, Tracy--and for saying it so well. I too am a writer (though a bit of a reluctant one).

    There are few feelings that match the anxiety I experience after I post a blog or hit the "send" button on a post or comment in FB.

    Without teasing out the relationship to what you've already stated (I mention this because it's something that I think would be fruitful, but I just don't have the time right now), three of the things I'm always sure I've done: offended someone, left out an important detail or connection (or, similarly, included content or rhetoric that creates more problems than it solves) or made myself look foolish.

    Though it may seem crazy and probably is mostly illogical I struggle with the same issues even when I journal.

    Obviously there's both pride and fear in those anxieties.

    One thing that I find helps is coming from a place of peace and Presence.

    Another thing I try to do is remember that making my mistakes publicly is sure to facilitate learning and growth. Yeah, um, I'm mostly serious about that.

    I'm a big fan of Pressfield, though, sadly, I'm not much of a "professional."

    I'm from L3, by the way, and have been debating whether to link my external identity with that one. If nothing else, this comment can be a link that folks can follow if they're curious. Thanks again for sharing and for making that connection yourself.

    1. Joel, thank you for taking the time to follow the link on L3, read and comment! I debated about linking my external identity to the L3 community in a status update but figured I'd go for it as part of my own growth in pushing past resistance.

      I enjoyed looking through your blog as well! Lots of interesting content there.

      I agree with you about writing from a place of peace and Presence. I generally try to write out of that place, as well as a sense of "rightness" about what I post. I want it very much to be a led by God kind of endeavor, even though I might not use of typically God language.

      Best wishes in your writing endeavors!