What Are You Capable Of?
Most of us don’t know what we are truly capable of because we don’t take risks. Carol Harrison discovered she was capable of much more than she thought in Northern Saskatchewan.
Order In Our Lives
Sometimes our puzzle pieces all seem to be in order in our lives. We are comfortable right where we are. We don’t want anyone or anything to disturb that. We don’t want to try pushing ourselves to try something we have never done before, at least I know I have been in that position a few times in my life.
American writer Neale Donald Walsch says, “Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.”
I believe that the end of your comfort zone is where you try and find out what you are capable of.
When I Stepped Out
Let me take you back a number of years – decades really – to May 1973. I had just completed my second year of university to be a teacher but still needed to do a three week practicum. I was a city girl – with a few brief forays into camping with family and friends in a nice camper. I liked the routines of city life with the security of my family and friends nearby. I knew the city I lived in. I knew how to navigate it with the bus system and I knew where to find anything I might need. It was my comfort zone.
Yet for some reason I decided to step out of that comfortable existence when I signed up to practice teach for three weeks in Cumberland House, the oldest permanently settled community in Saskatchewan and located at the end of highway 123 across the Saskatchewan River from the only road leading into the community.
Outside My Comfort Zone
I would spend three weeks boarding with people I didn’t know, practice teach with a teacher I had never met and travel to the community with the superintendent of the school division. That seemed intimidating but the opportunity to live and work in such a historically significant place drew me outside that comfort zone, not knowing what to expect or whether I was capable of handling any of it.
A group of us loaded our gear and climbed into a fifteen passenger van to travel from Prince Albert to Nipawin and then 163 km NE through the bush on a partially frozen gravel road called Highway 123. The jovial conversation flowing through the van was interrupted as we read a sign saying FERRY CLOSED.
River Crossing Impassable
I was vaguely familiar with ferries to cross the river in various places around our province and knew that they could not operate with winter ice on the water. I assumed there must be another way into the community since the superintendent kept driving.
Then I saw another huge sign which said, “RIVER CROSSING IMPASSABLE” in all capital letters which screamed for caution and yet we kept driving. Miles down the road another identical RIVER CROSSING IMPASSABLE sign came into view and all of us began to question the sanity of continuing. How would we cross the river that separated the end of the road from the community and the school we were all supposed to practice teach in??
The superintendent simply told us not to worry and kept driving into the unknown – at least for me. Warning bells chimed in my head and the pleasure of the drive through the beautiful northern forest was replaced by thoughts of all the times I had heard – Keep off the spring ice, especially in rivers. Danger! Danger! rang through my head.
Was I capable of even attempting this? Was it too late to go back and practice teach in a city school – well yes I had made a choice that I needed to stick to but this was out of my comfort zone.
Open Water and Ice Packs
At the end of the road I surveyed the scene. There was open water by each shore with an ice pack in the middle of the river. Boats waited to take us across – well that made sense for the open water but they didn’t look like ice cutters. On the other side of the river a big yellow school bus waited with a few people scattered about taking in the afternoon.
I listened carefully to the instructions given for the crossing. Our group was divided between boats. We were told to load our luggage into our assigned boat and then climb in. When we got to the ice we needed to climb out, keep hanging on the edge of the boat and pull it across the ice. One the boat arrived at open water we needed to climb back in for the last leg of the journey.
Oh yes there was one more instruction – if you hear a big crack while you are on the ice – jump back into the boat.
Further Out of My Comfort Zone
Skeptical or not I had to climb into that boat with no life jacket. There was no second chance to back out. I needed to get to the community and the school so I could complete my practice teaching and get my teaching certificate.
I stepped further out of my comfort zone that I ever had imagined. I experienced an unexpected style of river crossing before arriving safely into a small, isolated Northern community that had no resemblance to my city living.
I Was Capable of the Unexpected
What are you capable of? I found out that day I was capable of unexpected surprises in crossing what the signs had dubbed impassable. I lived for three weeks in a remote location, in a different culture and learned to love it so much I went teaching in a smaller, more isolated community in the fall.
Sometimes it is good for us to look back at experiences we have had and survived, to remember what we were capable of doing. There are times God asks us to step out of our comfort zone to take on a task we think we can’t possibly do. Yet God only asks for our obedience and he will supply everything we need.
So what am I capable of? What are you capable of? We will only find out when we step outside our comfort zones into the task God has planned for us.
Listen to Carol’s program Puzzle Pieces Of Life.
Carol Harrison B.Ed is a speaker and published author with one book, Amee’s Story and stories in twelve anthologies. She is passionate about helping people of all ages and ability levels find their voice and reach their fullest potential.
She knows, through personal experience that some of life’s experiences are tougher than others. She encourages people that even in the twists and turns of life God’s amazing grace provides hope. She lives in Saskatoon, SK with her husband Brian. They have four adult children and a dozen grandchildren.
Visit Carol’s website carolscorner.ca
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