It’s Halloween again. Every year I tell the same story about my inability to go “trick or treat-ing” with my kids because of my hang-ups from my door-knocking days as a child growing up as a Jehovah’s Witness. If you haven’t heard the story, go back over any post of mine or blog written about Halloween and it’s all there. I. Can’t. Go.
At our Incubator Q&A I told the whole story again as a way of illustrating a couple of points.
- You don’t have to heal everything;
- But you should at least know why; and
- Surprisingly (or not) your gift or purpose is wound up in exactly the very thing that needs healing.
I didn’t know this is what I was illustrating at first. I thought I was just trying to say that sometimes your shit gets in the way of some things (like Halloween) and that’s OK if that’s all it affects. You can keep your issue and just tell a funny story every year and (conveniently) not have to take a bunch of over-excited kids high on sugar out in public in the evening. Husband is doing that job. I nominated him. But it’s a bigger story than Halloween. It’s about everything.
When I first started my business and had to put myself out there (in the moment my website went live, every time I wrote and posted a blog, when I had to speak to people about what I did) the feeling that came up was the door-knocking feeling. The sheer terror of someone answering the door. Their response to unwelcome and unsolicited god-bothering. Me trying to make myself invisible (or honestly turn into a zombie or Dracula’s bride so they couldn’t recognise me). More often than not being turned away. My mum being so unbearably nice and earnest to people who really didn’t care. Me wondering why on earth she would give up so much time and energy to something so HARD. But here’s why.
She’s the best Jehovah’s Witness in our town I reckon. She loves it. She believes it. Every single day she wakes up and she’s determined to save people. She’s so generous with her time and often finds the most isolated and disengaged people to connect with. Our whole childhood she was trying to save us, and once I stopped blaming her for scaring me about Armageddon and prioritising her time to be able to do her ‘work’ I was able see the gifts she gave me. And somehow, I became a purpose evangelist. And every day I have to show up and put something out there that I believe deeply in, and I have to not let my fear of judgement or disinterest or other people’s fears get in the way. She taught me to keep doing what you believe in, even if (and especially if) it’s bigger than you. She taught me that if you put everything else aside and just focus on loving people and meeting them where they are sometimes that’s enough. And she also taught me you have to faith in something. That thing may go by a different name or be wound up in a religion or lifestyle, but it’s the strength of her belief that keeps her safe. Even if everything else about it doesn’t make sense.
When I speak about purpose and how to recognise it, I tell people it’s already woven through the story of your life and the jobs you’ve done. The actual doing of it (the way you express it) is EASY. But to truly fulfil it (in a bone-deep satisfying why) you have to take it that bit further (edge out) to where it feels BIG. It’s the BIGNESS that is (momentarily or always) terrifying, it’s not the HARDNESS. To my Mum, door-knocking wasn’t hard. Talking to people about what she believed in was the easiest thing in the world for her. It still is. In the face of us not believing or being part of that religion, she still passes on things she believes are important or will help us. When she chose that religion, she received massive resistance from her husband, his family, her family and the local community. She had to travel alone 600km on a bus with 4 small children to attend the 4-day conventions in the city. She ran our scripture lessons weekly at school. She ran meetings at home for us and attended meetings 100+km away and was one of the first people I know in the bush to work out how to tele-conference, so she could attend on the phone. I’m not glorifying the experience because as a kid it sucked. But outside of it and above it she was determined and fuelled by something she believed in fiercely. And we could all use some fierceness, right? Some fire? Something to believe in?
It’s kind of funny (or not) but would you believe that I work for a personal development company and go away for 4 days at a time to facilitate seminars (the new ‘convention’)? I travel 500km and have to sort care for 5 children to do this (I’m not as brave as she was and would not take them – especially not on the bus!). My husband is entirely on board and has even joined our team (another win in my world because being on the same team makes it even easier). Some evenings we have Zoom calls (the new ‘teleconference’). And my purpose coaching work also means I travel (sometimes a lot) and put myself out there on social media and generally showing up (the new ‘doorknocking’). I have no doubt that at times for my kids it has sucked. I’m sure they have felt the times my priorities skewed. I know they’ve witnessed me exhausted with not another speck to give anyone, much earlier in the day than they have stopped needing something from me. There are some things I’d change if I could – mostly just not being fully present at the times I gave too much elsewhere and being mean when I needed some space. But if I could have found my purpose sooner, I would have. Because at 44 it feels BIG. And it’s a bigger story than Halloween. It’s about everything.