It’s been 4 years since my trip to India. Although my everyday life seems as distant as the geography is, my memories tend to keep this experience top of mind. You can image that the combination of being fully present to each moment I experienced and the sensory overload of an unfamiliar culture serve to preserve these memories like a travel journal of sorts.

HOT that might be the first word I would use when describing India. There we sat side by side forming a row across the stage glued to the plastic seating provided, we must have looked like a tribe of vagabond Westerners to the women we were facing. The mix of heat and immobility resulted in legs that were suctioned together, sweat dripping from everywhere, and I swore I could wring this amount of perspiration from my bra.

To me everything in India is riddled with irony, including the HOT chai tea we were served during the conference break that afternoon. I managed to get the recipe and have made it a few times over the years. Delish. Oddly enough we were there to teach, this notion was especially ironic.

Our “fearless” leader, who was really theirs, was speaking. Not knowing if the story she was telling was true or a magnificent oral tale of Eastern decent I found myself hanging on her every word.

This message was for me.

She told us a story of what eagles do to realize their full potential – the discomfort they endure to reach their maximum life span. She with great detail, and some hilarious facial expressions, illustrated the process they go through to live beyond the age of 40. Their life span could be 80+ years, the choice was theirs.

She narrated how they would find a place to hide, a cave of sorts, high up in the mountains, a place where they could be safe in their vulnerability. It would be in this place where they would painstakingly pluck out some of their heaviest feathers, in order to lighten their plumage.

They use their hard and mangled beaks to pull out their talons one by one, for newer sharper talons to grow in. And at the final stage would crack their beaks agains the hard stone until the old came away and a more youthful beak could grow back in its place. All the while they faced near starvation in the process. Discomfort would be a slight to depict the pain of this molting.

I was 39 at the time.

I struggled with feelings of unfulfillment. I just didn’t feel like I was living my full potential. I had allowed life to push me around to the point that I wasn’t really sure who I was, what I was made for, and where I was going.

I was aching for purpose.

She implored her audience. “Do the hard work, you’re meant to be eagles.”

I wasn’t the only Westerner who was opened mouthed at the way she was addressing her girls, excuse me, I mean female leaders. She caught all of us off guard.

“Why are you acting like chickens just pecking around in the garbage?”

All I could think was, try selling tickets to hear that at your next women’s conference or retreat. But she was right, if we’re not out there enduring the discomfort to reach our maximum potential – we’re chickens.

I don’t know about you but I would rather be an eagle than a chicken. And my biggest take away from her talk was understanding this principle.

The discomfort preceded the destiny. And it takes courage to believe in yourself. Believing you’re an eagle not a chicken is half the battle.


This is especially true when you’re an adult. There are not many people offering to tell you how awesome you are and how much untapped potential you have. You’ve got to push yourself outside of your own comfort zone…and keep on pushing.

Friends, that’s what this community is about…pushing one another along as we all go through the painful process of reaching our full potential.

Eagles or chickens? Cast your vote.

Who’s ready to do the hard work with me?

10 thoughts on “The discomfort preceded the destiny.

  1. This was a wonderful nugget Melissa! I never knew this fact about eagles. poignant! the question always is: am I willing to take on the heavy work, the rough truths, the painful grit, in order to soar with the eagles?

  2. This post hit me hard yesterday. I struggle with feeling lost and going full steam ahead. I’ve had several talks with God about where he sees me fitting into the world with my passions and my talents. Somedays I feel I have none. Other times, I try and pursue too much and it becomes obvious when I become stressed and also when I feel disconnected with my husband or children. I felt strongly that I wanted to be fully present for my children. This has been a struggle as this means having less money, less professional accomplishments. My children are thriving because they have had full access to me. As they get older, sometimes I feel like I can do more for myself, then I see how that part suffers. So I pull back. I have had clear signs that this is my time for them. Being fully present with them is where God is calling me to be. That can be hard sometimes. Feeling like I don’t have the money I want. Feeling like I cannot contribute in the world like I want. So I struggle. Where do I fit into this world? Am I willing to hibernate during this season knowing I may have to pull my own painful feathers out one day to find out where I belong? Thank you for your post. Keep
    writing and sharing your heart. It’s obvious that’s where your talent lies, crickets or no. Xo

    1. Molly-Everything you’ve said resonates with me – AND millions of other women. While I don’t believe the pursuit of balance has a destination… because seasons change, needs change, and we change through the process I do believe in the “just a little something small initiative.”

      Do something that you love. Don’t put expectations on it, put it to the task, or demand a financial gain from it. Do it because while you are being fully present…you become restored and in that state and you have goodness to put into the world.

      Labels could be passion project, hobby, or just your little something. 7 years of homeschooling, painfully small re-entry into the workforce and processing the injustice of it all – leads me to these conclusions.

      When I have more money… I have no time, or the best of me to give.

      When I have more time… I have less money, but more of me to give.

      Jesus did say we cannot serve two masters.

      I’d rather lean into the equation with some kind of gain. Just do a little something. At least that way you are using all of yourself while you’re waiting for a different season to come forth. I’m looking forward to see what (maybe 1 (or a few) things) you keep while the rest might need to wait a while. xo

  3. “I struggled with feelings of unfulfillment. I just didn’t feel like I was living my full potential. I had allowed life to push me around to the point that I wasn’t really sure who I was, what I was made for, and where I was going.

    I was aching for purpose.”

    Hello? Are you in my head?

    Oh, friend, how this resonates with me. (She writes, quietly wiping away some wayward tears…)Do the hard work, yes–I’m all in. But I’m still struggling with what and where and how. Balance is such a hard thing–like you, I’ve chosen to give my kids and family my all, but the result has been I’m left with the dregs of a life. There must be a better way. It’s been so long since I’ve had any “professional accomplishments” I don’t even know what it’s supposed to look like anymore and I lack the confidence to chase it down–although I’m working on changing that. Step by step.

    Thanks for this.
    Hugs,
    J

    1. Janine-

      If you get a chance read Molly’s comment – and my reply, you’ll find good company. Today I met with a friend and as I was really digging into what these feelings are out came this statement.

      “It’s like the difference between using a seasoned cast iron skillet or teflon.”

      All that life that we’ve lived, wisdom we’ve gleaned, and love we’ve shown needs to be shaken loose a bit and shared with the world. I’m sure the “sharing” will take on many shapes and forms – expressed through our giftings and opportunities. Just pick something you like doing… and do it… and so on until we find our way.

      We can’t control how successful whatever we offer to the world becomes – we can only control our sowing.

      I guess my BIG prayer is that I might help shake the tree of what I call the massive middle (middle aged fantastically talented and wise group of women) just enough that we can all benefit from some of the fruit that falls to the ground.

      I am convinced however that this incremental process of cultivating the courage that I know if locked inside of us all is a necessary step to shaking the tree.

      I love seeing you take the courageous steps out of what I can only imagine has been a very difficult season. I read a wonderful essay this week by Katrina Kenison and thought of you – hope you enjoy 💛

      https://www.katrinakenison.com/2019/03/10/an-everyday-thing/

  4. I’d much rather be an eagle than a chicken! Funny, my definite natural tendency is to be a CHICKEN…not liking pain, discomfort or RISK at any level. This is a great illustration and one that is easy to remember. Thanks, Melissa, for helping us as we learn to soar!!

    1. Karen- No way you’re a chicken. You’re already an eagle. None of us enjoys the painful process but even accepting this as a reality takes courage. I have a feeling that this is all timely for you as your hubby enters retirement. Small steps. Can’t wait to find out what’s awaiting you on your new adventure. 😘

  5. God often touches my heart by reminding me of different things when I see certain birds. But eagles are my favorite. This is such a great reminder to me that He is in the hot mess. I am making process. Yes, it stinks at times and it is far from fun. But there is a great work being done.

    1. Betsy-

      Yes, He is there in our hot mess.

      I’ve taken your nudge about Lent… been spending time each night jotting down the good and not so good things He’s shown me in the day. Thanks for spurring us on to do this.

      While I would love for the intimacy to be full of warm and fuzzy love – He’s peeling the onion. The intimacy happening through the brokenness.

      You’re IRON for me friend. 💛

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