“I Didn’t Know I Could”

“I didn’t know I could.”  Five words that are possibly the happiest or the saddest statement I hear when sitting with a coaching client or a counselee.

Depending on which way the emotional wind is blowing,
those five words carry potential for creaking open the door a little wider and sticking a toe in edgewise.

When voiced from delightful discovery, charting the course can take on a new bent and fresh steam. Such times can be a model of the life coaching relationship at its best.

On the other hand, the same five words can relay regret, frustration, and disillusionment in mere moments.

Either way, there are more levels to explore.

As I snapped the accompanying post photo this summer, I was struck with the significance of the shot. How many times has a see-through chain link fence been sufficient to keep you from stepping deeper or climbing higher? Pretty much guaranteed, the equivalent of a ‘chain-link fence’ will be encountered when charting the course of “I didn’t know I could.”

It’s what you do with it that can impact your life and chart your course in a living life forward kind of way. Several stories come to mind:

  • My own mother, who had what became a thriving wedding cake business for nearly thirty years. While attending my cousin’s wedding, she was captivated by the form and detail of the wedding cake. Back home, she raved about it to a young couple in our church who was planning their wedding. The bride-to-be asked, “why don’t you make our wedding cake?” After demurring got her nowhere, my mother, with no formal culinary training or bakery classes – ever, proceeded to make her first wedding cake. She learned a lot by trial and error, an eye for beauty and many successes. Thousands of wedding cakes later, “I didn’t know I could” followed by her own belief “but I think I can”, Little Audrey’s Bake Shoppe grew to become a regional classic for decades.
  • The thirty-something woman, who for years lived the epitome of “I didn’t know I could.” Dogged by a desire that would surface, go underground, and eventually surface again to her great frustration, it all came spilling out in my office one day. Growing up, all she heard from her father was ‘it’s a stupid idea; you can’t make money doing that; get a real career; you’ll never succeed at it’, etc. She was now a couple decades plus into her “I didn’t know I could” journey. In a dissatisfying career choice, largely due to hearing her father’s critical voice ringing in her ears, she had turned away from her heart’s desire. But right on God’s cue, here it was again. I stuck a toe in the door when she cried out, “I didn’t know I could!” See-through chain link fencing gave way to a gate through which to step. Charting a life-giving course has now brought a fresh glow.
  • You. Me. A parent. A child. A co-worker. A neighbor. A best friend. A student. A relative. A stranger. A client. A spouse: when have you, when have I, when have any/many of them been confronted with a see-through chain link fence that:
    1) hindered or prevented moving forward?
    2) had to give way to renewed hope and encouragement and the will to press in?

We may stall out at times because of what we cannot see in our attempts to chart a way forward. That is understandable because we are called to walk by faith, not by sight. Tested faith yields increased faith.

Looking with longing at something through the chain link pattern of “I didn’t know I could” is less a test of faith and more a show of courage.

Are there more levels to explore beyond the surface? Limiting or painful beliefs to examine? Sometimes, usually yes. But that’s where “I didn’t know I could” can be redirected by the Holy Spirit to the joy and satisfaction of finding out that ‘I can’.

Living life forward … beyond the chain link fencing.

~ Nancy

My gate is open here if longing has you looking through a chain link fence.

Photo Credit: PicMonkey enhancement

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