I am here again, in a familiar place feeling something I’ve felt before, wondering why it’s still here, why I didn’t deal with it more fully before. But I’m glad I have a second chance at it…and I know that if I need a third chance, I’ll get it. I also know that if it comes up again, I’ll recognize it sooner and deal with it more readily. This is growth. And, I am happy to be alive. (Jan Denise)

I just got off the phone with a dear friend, a wise woman, an amazing individual. She talked to me of a current relationship for which she’s had much hope. She told me how it has progressed, how she has known desire for connection that has not dared surface in relationships-past, how beautiful it has been to be pursued, to be seen, to be heard, to be beautiful. She also told me about some unsettling patterns and behaviors that aren’t beautiful, aren’t honoring, aren’t worthy of who she is. So disappointing. And so familiar.

Why is that? Why do women who are strong, courageous, risky, and beautiful so often find themselves in all-too-familiar relationships that are not what they want or deserve?

This is nothing new. I’m instantly reminded of the plethora of bestsellers over the years that speak to this pattern, such as Women Who Love Too Much and He’s Just Not That In To You. Clearly, it’s not an oddity. It’s a pattern. It’s familiar.

What would it mean for women to choose to function in unfamiliar ways; to let discomfort, in many ways, be a discerning tool? What would it mean to be in relational patterns – whether at work, with family, or in love – that are not what we’re used to, that don’t even feel all that comfortable (at least to begin with)? Maybe we need to do unfamiliar things in order to break old styles and move into new, healthy ones.

I’m thinking unfamiliarity, albeit risky and dangerous, might just be a better choice – professionally, personally, emotionally, and relationally.

Eleanor Roosevelt is quoted as saying, “Do one thing every day that scares you.” How’s that for unfamiliar? And how’s that for moving us into realms we’d not normally go, places we’d not normally frequent, careers we’d not normally pursue, relationships we’d not normally consider. Maybe, just maybe, there’s something to be learned – or at least heeded – when we find ourselves in a place that feels familiar. Maybe that’s the moment when we can best discern that we’d might want to get the he__ out of that situation and into something new, something surprising, something unfamiliar…something hope-full.

I don’t know…these are unfamiliar and somewhat uncomfortable thoughts for me – particularly if I actually apply them!

As always, I’m drawn to the narrative of Scripture. And I think the case could be made that “unfamiliar,” at least in relation to God, is more the rule than the exception. Many things were asked of those who populate these stories that were scary, risky, dangerous, unfamiliar…and ultimately full of hope. God’s way of relating with us seems to be to invite us into the unfamiliar so that we can know something far more of God, of self, of one another. Hmmm.

Worth thinking about…maybe even worth choosing to actually do!

Courage is the power to let go of the familiar. (Raymond Lindquist)
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