The other day, a new friend of mine asked if I'd like to meet up to go hiking early one morning. Immediately, I dismissed the idea, thinking to myself "Oh, I'm NOT a hiker and I'm NOT a morning person".
Then, I thought about it for a second. The timing would be great - up and gone before anyone else even woke up in the house. Cool morning air, a little huffing and puffing in the middle of nature, soaking up the bright new day. Hmm, maybe this did sound appealing. Who am I to label myself with such stringent restriction?
Maybe every day hikers wouldn't consider me a hiker - but, couldn't I hike? Maybe every day early risers wouldn't call me a morning person - but, couldn't I get up early and enjoy it? You bet!
I freely admitted to my friend my novice-status and soon enough, it was Saturday morning and I was lacing up my sneakers before dawn. Being out in nature - dirt, rocks, trees, birds - was even better than I remember. The two-and-a-half mile hike went by super quickly, as good company and getting-to-know-you conversation betters any experience in my book. But, I never would have done it if 1) I wasn't invited and 2) I stepped outside my box.
It's not really in our nature to step outside our comfort zones as humans. We get comfortable and settled into our routines and perspectives; and, normal life doesn't offer enough opportunities to push us much beyond our boundaries.
It wasn't in my nature to get out and enjoy nature. Maybe it's one of those nature-versus-nurture moments where we have to stop and nurture ourselves towards going against our normal flow. It wasn't a big deal - so what, I got up early and hiked a few hills? - but, it was enough to remind me how important it is for me to do things like that. Do things that I don't consider "me".
What can you do this week to step out of your nature?
How can you redefine labels you may have placed on yourself?
I probably won't turn into a nature-loving-every-day-hiker any time soon. I definitely want to get out there more often and appreciate the air and land that God created that I so rarely stop to observe. But, no matter what, I want to be intentional about always trying new things, always stretching the boundaries of my self-labeled-box just enough to explore new aspects of who I am.
It might not be in our nature to lean towards the uncomfortable, but we all have the ability to nurture each other; whether that's reaching out to new friends, encouraging new adventures, or exploring the nature of God through the creation that's all around us.