Welcome to the Listen Close, Listen Well series. Today we welcome Tracey as she shares about stepping out of your comfort zone.
Tracey is a passionate speaker and writer ready to shine a light for Jesus. She shines that light through encouraging words to help others who may be suffering or doubting themselves on their current path in life. After a childhood with an alcoholic mother and abusive father, her love for the Lord helped rise above her past. She describes this in her book, “Out of the Darkroom, Into the Light: A Story of Faith and Forgiveness After Child Abuse.” She is happily married and in the midst of raising four wonderful sons. Tracey has a background in Special Education, has taught History in public high school for eight years, and has been a missionary in Guatemala and the Dominican Republic.
Out of the Comfort Zone
I still remember the uncomfortable feeling that I had as I left the counselor’s office. It wasn’t because I had shared my messy past with her, it was because of what she said before I left. Her question replayed in my mind, “You have an incredible story. Would you ever consider sharing it with others?” My gut reaction was in the form of a pig snort as I blurted out, “No way, I didn’t even want to tell you!” And her next words hit me like a ton of bricks, “What if you could help someone who feels as alone as you did?”
I got in my car and shook my head.
It’s a crazy idea, why would I even consider it?
As I began driving a nervous excitement began in my stomach. I started talking out loud to myself, “Do you think she means write a book? Speak in front of people?”
At the time I was a high school history teacher, so the idea of speaking in front of people wasn’t too scary, but writing seemed insane. I turned on the music and tried to forget it, but my mind kept on…I don’t have a clue as to how to write a book. I don’t even have a blog. Wait, why am I even thinking about this? I’d have to share EVERYTHING that I’ve kept as a secret for so many years.
I pulled into my driveway and returned to my normal. My dog greeted me at the door and a few minutes later my four sons arrived home from school and the busy evening unfolded. As I went to bed that evening, the counselor’s question returned in my mind and I found myself annoyed. I decided to pray about it and asked God to help me continue making progress moving past my past and to not think about anything else.
Two days passed and I hadn’t told anyone about my conversation with my counselor. I got home after a busy school day and opened my e-mail and couldn’t believe what I saw. The message line said, “Do you have a story to share?” It was an invitation to a Christian conference for writers and speakers. I immediately sent it to my counselor and the nervous excitement returned. She confirmed that it was God nudging me.
I made a mental list of all the reasons I wouldn’t be able to go: it was too expensive, my kids had activities, I didn’t have the courage, and reminded myself that I wasn’t a writer. I tried to ignore thinking about it for several days.
I have learned that when God wants to get your attention, he will try several times.
Every time I found myself thinking about the idea of attending the conference, I got that same nervous, excited feeling. I realized that I wanted to go! Still full of self-doubt, I was too nervous to say anything to my husband (face to face) so I e-mailed him. It started with, “You’re going to think I’m crazy, but….” Being the sensible lawyer that he is, I was sure that he would realize what a crazy idea it was and bring me back to reality. His reply shocked me: GO FOR IT!
This was the beginning of many times that I felt God guiding me towards a new beginning. Each time I found myself stuck or unsure of my ability to proceed, I would pray and He would show me the way. My relationship with Him is stronger now than ever and in sharing my story, I am sharing His.
He had to work hard to get me to listen and trust, but I am so happy that I did!
Have you ever felt God trying to get your attention but your fear or self-doubt got in the way?
What would your life look like if you fully trusted God, even if it meant going outside of your comfort zone?
“Because you trusted me, I will give you your life as a reward. I will rescue you and keep you safe” Jeremiah 39:18.
Read the other Listen Close, Listen Well posts:
Not Ours to Give Away by Tiffany Parry
Lean In My Daughters by Kerrington Sweeney
Listening When It’s Loud by Teri Lynne Underwood
Fear and Doorknobs by Kim Osterholzer
What God Wants by Crystal Hall
Preparing a Place by Abby Banfield
The Luxury of Listening by Ashley Hales
His Grace Isn’t Just for Today by Abby McDonald
The God Dare by Kate Battistelli