Lately I have been having conversations with friends and with people on social media, the theme that keeps coming up, at least for me, are feelings of uncertainty. I don’t know what is next in life and exactly where I am going. And usually, I am ok with that.
But lately it’s bothered me more than usual. And you would think I would have made friends with uncertainty especially with how my last year and some odd months have gone. It’s been unconventional by any means and I am not where I envisioned myself 5 years ago. I have been living in uncertainty for over a year. Sometimes I get tired of waiting for God to open the next door I am supposed to walk through. I think some of it has to do with the time of the year for me because last year around this time I experienced similar feelings of uncertainty.
I have learned recently that if I choose to play into this feeling uncertainty and not rely on God, it will lead you to a place you don’t want to be. There is a potential decision that I have been mulling over and over again in my head to the point it has become obsessive thoughts and torment. In this decision, there was no right or wrong decision. It’s more like a fork in the road in my life. On one hand, financially it would practically make sense, it would be the more conventional way of doing life. I would have a stable job with benefits and it would be a new career for me. On the other hand, I would be taking the unconventional way in life and it would much riskier financially. I would be doing several different jobs while building my business. I had gone back and forth between doing what is practical or having a flexible schedule. For ever reason I thought I should potentially pursue the job, I had a reason not to. This lead to increased anxiety about the uncertainty feeling I was experiencing and the fear of making a decision I might regret. Which ultimately leads to decision paralysis. I even did a decision tree but because I was in decision paralysis, it did not help me to make a decision. But I kept walking through the open doors while still experiencing the torment in my mind.
One day it occurred to me that God is not a God of torment and obsessive thoughts. This decision essentially had become an idol of indecision in my life. My thoughts and conversations would always somehow lead back to this decision that I needed to make. Once I realized this, I decided to give it to Him and just trust Him for my answer. You would think this is the end of my torment but then I would have moments where I would take it back. And every time I took it back I could feel pain in my back where I carry stress or when I was thinking about making this decision I realized I was clenching my jaw. I also noticed my increase in irritability and less patience.
I realize what I was experiencing was not peace. When I decide to change something in my life, I always look for God’s peace. And I know that I have God’s peace when I know without a shadow without a doubt of what I am supposed to do. I become stubborn and no one can change my mind other than God.
I realized that the answer that I was looking for was there all along and that I needed to pay attention to the cues that I was being given. There are some things that I learned or was reminded of in this.
Here are a few questions to ponder to think about in your life. Have experienced decision paralysis because you gave the feelings you are/were feeling too much power? Do you have trouble deciphering what is truth and a lie in your life especially when it comes to your feelings? Are you always second-guessing your decisions because you don’t trust yourself to make the right decision?
Nine months ago two days ago, I left my 9-5 job in social work. Leaving that day I left that day broken what felt like a million pieces. I did not know what was next in life. There was so much uncertainty about my future. But there was one thing I had and I knew for sure. That I had peace. I knew I was doing what God was asking me to do. As scary and uncertain my future looked that day, I was resting in this unshakable peace. I was leaving my job without a plan not knowing what was going to be next.
As I look at these last nine months, I see the lessons that God had for me in this valley:
Listen to yourself and your body – Your body gives you so many clues on where you are at emotionally. My body was giving so many clues that I was not listening to long before I realized it. It showed in my eyes and the way I carried myself. It was not until weeks after I was not working I saw a brightness in my eyes that I had not seen in a long time. I shared more about it in my last blog post in this series.
Be willing to take care of yourself even when it seems selfish. – This is something we hear so much self-care but most of us are really bad really practicing it. Self-care looks different from person to person. There are times I would come home from work and watch TV for the night and then go to bed. I have learned that this is not self-care this was a way that I used to escape from what I really needed to deal with or to numb what was going on in my life. But I learned self-care for me looks like going on a drive with my camera and take pictures of things in nature, going for a walk at Longwood Gardens, taking time to connect with God on my own or at a church service, journaling, listening to music, having dinner with a friend, traveling, painting, and spending time with my family. I needed a season of just being in life and not having thinking about anything else.
God always has a plan even when we can’t see it. – If you had told me on the day that I gave my six-week notice that nine months later, I would not have a 9-5 job, I am not sure I would have been brave enough to make that decision. I am an extremely logical person who makes decisions out of logic and reasoning and not emotion. I am grateful that God does not let us look into the future. Actually, I believe this is a gift. Because I would have been paralyzed by what these last nine months brought. Looking back I can see God’s hand through it all.
God is faithful and He keeps his promises. – God has provided for me in the last nine months in all areas of my life. Relationally, He has brought a great group of friends into my life. I have been grateful for their friendship through one of the hardest seasons of my life. Emotionally, He has begun to pick up those million pieces that were broken inside of me and started to repair what was broken. Financially, He had provided for me every month to meet my financial needs and then some. Spiritually, I have learned to trust God in a deeper place than I have before.
It is ok to try something but find that it is not what you want in life. – Through this season I have tried several different things and I have learned that some of the things that I have tried are not what I want for my life. Like I love traveling alone but two weeks is too long for me to travel alone.
Education and mentoring is a great thing! – In the last 9 months, I have taken some time to further my knowledge, especially with business and entrepreneurship. I have learned so much about myself in the process. And who I want to be in this world. What I do and don’t want to do in life.
It is ok to take a season of rest and to take a slower pace in life. – In our world today it is about the hustle and always being on the go. These last 9 months have truly been a season of rest for me. I am grateful that I have had this opportunity to rejuvenate and rest. I would hate to see where I would be if I had not done so.
I need to travel several times a year. – I love traveling and going to new places. Although I hate packing to leave for a trip. Travel was not something I prioritized in my life.
God has created me with a gift of creativity. – When you suppress a gift that you have been given, you will feel like something is missing. I was a high functioning burnout, I did not use my gift of creativity often because I did not have the energy to do so. And I was not feeding part of who I am.
I am a person who loves people and being in relationship with people. – I love to walk beside people on this journey called life. And it is a gift that God has given me. And when I don’t do it, there is part of me missing in my life. It is something that I can do easily. But just because it is easy for me it does not mean that I do not need to be careful about who I choose to do it with and how many people I choose to do it with at one time. I am also an introvert so people can drain me and it leads me to a place that I do not want to be.
Taking a moment out of your day to say hi or have a conversation with someone can be life-changing. – I have had countless people who have stopped their day to ask me how I am doing. Some have even helped me process what I was going through that day. Many have stopped their day to pray for and with me.
Just because I am independent, it does not mean that I need to do life alone. – For anyone that knows me personally, knows that I am one of the most independent women you will find. But if I had stayed to myself and not been vulnerable with friends, family, my counselor, and other people in my life, I would not be where I am today. I would be in a lonely place. I am in a place and do life with people that love me for me.
Vulnerability is a good thing. – Being vulnerable can be one of the hardest things in life. You risk getting hurt. You are letting someone see what you are struggling with or what your weakness is. I can so easily tell someone I am good when I am not. I can hide behind a mask of independence. But this season has taught me that hiding behind a mask does not help me. It actually hurts me. There is no one to share my burden. I have learned that when I choose to be vulnerable it gives others the courage to do the same.
It is ok to take risks even when you are not sure about them. – I generally make decisions on the side of caution. But sometimes I have to take a risk and see where it takes me. God is right there with me no matter the decision that I made.
When you are experiencing emotions, take time to process them and don’t ignore them. – I am not the greatest at identifying and processing my emotions. A large part of this is the culture I grew up in did not encourage you to do this. Actually, it was an unspoken rule. Through the years I have learned that I need to allow myself to experience them, process them but also look at the truth. Sometimes our feelings are the opposite of what the truth is. My feelings do not negate the truth even when I don’t understand my feelings, the circumstances, or the truth. This is something that I learned last summer when I was processing a friend’s death.
When I am feeling fear and anxiety, I am usually trying to control something. – Recently I experienced fear and anxiety, I was trying to figure out why as I am not generally a fearful or anxious person. It occurred to me that I was trying to control something that I was not meant to control. I was trying to take the control out of God’s hand and put the control in my hands. Looking back I realize it was a foolish thing to do but it is something that I try to often because I think I know what is best. Reality is God who created me knows what is best for me because He is sovereign over the whole earth and He sees the whole picture.
***This is part of a series of blog posts of me sharing about burnout and things I have been learning through this. They are numbered in the order that they are written in and to indicate that they are part of this series.***
We have been fed this lie that being busy is a good thing. I think as a society we have become addicted to being busy. We think we have to be busy all the time. It is to the point when someone asks us “How are you doing?” A common response has been “busy.” When has this answer become ok. And in my opinion it is a masked answer for how we really are doing.
There are seasons where we will be busy and this is enviable. But when busy becomes part of our lifestyle is where we get it wrong. Because if we are always busy there is a time where you will burnout from always being so busy. You can only go so long before you will crash from being busy. You will not have time to do the things that fill you up. That help take care of you and your sanity. And we don’t have time for the relationships that are important for us.
Resting and not being caught in this hamster wheel of busyness is good for you as a whole especially emotionally. Being in the hamster wheel of busy there is an anxiety that comes with it because you have to always think about what is next. You miss the small blessings and miracles that are right in front of you in your day to day life. I can say this from personal experience. If I am not well emotionally, it throws the rest of my life off track and not seems to works well. If we are always busy, we are not taking the time to process what is going on with us and around us. I know when I do not take the time to process emotionally it is a recipe for disaster. Maybe not right away but eventually.
When we are always busy, things get missed because we can’t do everything well. When we try to so everything, we usually are operating outside of our gifts because we are trying to do everything.
The other thing about buying into the lie of having to always be busy, we rely on ourselves much more than we are suppose to. We don’t take the time to see if there is someone else in your life that would be better suited for the task than you. And we also tend not to take the time to seek and trust God. What if God doesn’t give you an answer before you need an answer? We tell ourselves it is easier to rely on ourselves and not on God or anyone else. We are created for community with God and others.
When God created the earth, He put a day of rest in for a reason. He knew that we need to rest so that we can be productive for the rest of the week. He even to took a day of rest when He created the earth.
“By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work. Then God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done.” Genesis 2:2-3
So is your busyness for a season or is it a lifestyle? And is it a mask to cover up something else you don’t want to deal with?
Have you ever waited for something for a while and it takes longer than you expected it to be? You think I have waited long enough and whatever you are waiting on can come to fruition anytime now. This is where I was a couple weeks ago.
Part of my season of rest has been waiting for God to lead me to my next step. It is easy to say “I am good and just trusting God.” when asked how are life is going. But then there are times that this isn’t true. In the beginning, the waiting wasn’t that bad. But after a couple months of resting and waiting on God’s timing, it caught up to me.
It was a Monday afternoon and I was watching a Steve Harvey clip that came up on my Facebook. In this clip, Steve talked about how God got him to where he is today and that if God can do it for him then God can do it for you too. And as I heard those words tears started to come to my eyes. I realized at that moment the waiting in this season was being to wear on me. And that even though I trust God and His timing for my life, I realized in that moment I was starting to doubt. I was getting tired of my season. In this season of rest, I have gotten so many no’s and the no’s started to wear on my spirit and emotions.
I started to doubt and question… If I had done the right thing by quitting my job with no job in sight? Was that really what God wanted me to do? Was it what I needed to do for myself?
That night I went to the Bible study and we chose one person to share what we were struggling with. And when it was my turn, part of me wanted to just shut down what I was feeling but I knew I needed to share. As I began to share with my friend, tears came to my eyes again and they kept coming as I talked about my feelings and doubts. After my friend prayed for me and I shed some tears, I felt better. My doubts and feelings were still there but after that I was reminded that I was not alone in my journey.
I realized it is ok for me to have these doubts and feelings but it is what I do with them that is the important part. If I decided to dwell on my doubts and feeling rather than sharing them with someone else and giving them to God. It would have lead to worry, worry to anxiety, and anxiety to stress. Worry, stress and anxiety robs us of our peace and joy.
“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. – Matthew 6:25-34
At the beginning of this year, the words God gave me for this year was rest and trust. In January, I had no idea how that would how literally this would play out in my life this year. And honestly when God gave me these words I did not understand why He gave them to me.
Ten weeks ago when I quit my job, my plan was to take a week off (that was going to packed full of things) and then start a new job the next week. Key words here is MY PLAN. Not God’s plan. I did have a job offer but I turned it down for numerous reasons. So I ended my last job with no new job. During the week after I quit my job, God pressed it on my heart to take a significant amount of time off before I start something else and for me to go away by myself.
In the first month of not working, I had no desire to work any job. And it caught me by surprise that I did not want to work. Anyone that knows me personally knows working is something that I have always done and I see value in it. And it would give me anxiety when I do not have an ongoing income to pay bills and live on. But not having the desire to work showed me that I needed this time to rest. I needed time for my physical body, emotional being and my spiritual being to be able to rest and heal.
Six weeks after I quit my job, I went on vacation by myself for 12 days! Yes, you read that right, I went by myself to the Finger Lakes region in New York. During this time I was able to sight see, meet up with a total stranger to trade a photoshoot, I visited a new church twice, chased the sunset one night, try iced custard made out of duck eggs, sit at a local coffee shop and work on my business for a few days, read a couple books, go see a movie alone, reconnect with some family that was in the area, and most importantly I took the time to connect with God and listen to his voice. Where I was staying there was not internet or TV to distract me from hearing God’s voice. In these 12 days God spoke to me and I learned what it means to rest and just stop without rushing to the next thing.
I am grateful for this season of rest. I do not regret that I took time for this season. It was a season that I needed. In this season, God has provided for me in more than just finances. And He has given me clarity and direction as to where He has called me to. He met me in the moments that I was anxious and unsure that I had done the right thing. He has spoken to me through the Bible, my time with Him and through other people. God has walked with me through this season of rest and healing.
Out of this season I have gained and learned some things:
It is important to take time to rest and take time alone for anyone but especially for those in ministry or in a profession that helps others.
“Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.” (Luke 5:16)
“Jesus, knowing that they intended to come and make him king by force, withdrew again to a mountain by himself.” (John 6:15)
Jesus did this on a regular basis. And if Jesus had to do this how much more important is it for us humans. We need to have a rhythm and focus in our life that allows us to have rest and focus on our relationship with God. We need to slow down in life and not always be rushing off to the next thing. While you may not be able to take time off of work for a couple months to rest like I have; it is still important to integrate rest in our lives in a regular basis.
***This is part of a series of blog posts of me sharing about my burnout and things I have been learning through this. They are numbered in the order that they are written in and to indicate that they are part of this series.***
About two days after I gave my notice at work that I was quitting on May 23rd, the fear and anxiety set in. That Wednesday morning at work, I was feeling anxious to the point it was the closest thing I ever felt to anxiety attack. My muscles in my back tensed up and the tension lasted for days.
These questions kept coming up in my mind.
What did I do? I am leaving a job and a career that I love and is stable. I am giving up my comfort and stability by quitting my job.
How am I going to pay my bills?
Am I going to be homeless? Am I going to lose my car because I can’t pay my car payment?
And the questions and thoughts went on and on.
That morning I kept telling myself God’s truth and that He was going to provide for me because I was following His will. It frustrated me that anxiety was winning that morning and for the few days after. Because no matter how much I tried to apply God’s truth in my life, it didn’t seem to help. I hated that my emotions were over shadowing the truth I knew. But that morning and the few days to follow, I did know that even in the midst of this anxiety; I had a peace that I made the right decision about my future.
The fear and anxiety is not something I was prepared because I have peace in my decision. And this fear and anxiety is something that came and went in my last couple weeks of work. I am sure it will come and go again as I try to figure out the next steps that God has for me next.
Sometime after me giving my notice at work, God gave me a visual for this season of life. The first phase of the visual is that God is holding my hand and leading me into my future. But I can only see up to His wrist and the rest of Him and what is ahead of me is covered with a dense fog that I can’t see anything else but His hand holding mine.
A few weeks after this morning, I was at church and it was the first time that I admitted to myself and God that I am scared for this new season of life. A season of unknowns, a season of trusting in God and a season of peace. That night is where God lifted a little more of the dense fog in the visual He has given me for this season. I could see up to His shoulder and a few days after I could see up to the back of His head as He is leading me. He is leading me like a Father leads a child. And this child is in complete trust of the Father because the child knows that the Father has the best intentions for the child. The Father will provide safety and provisions for the child.
***This is part of a series of blog posts of me sharing about burnout and things I have been learning through this. They are numbered in the order that they are written in and to indicate that they are part of this series.***
Recently when I have looked at life, it seems to be filled with a bunch of uncertainty. Even in some the most certain things in my life there is uncertainty. While this can and sometimes does cause anxiety or worry but I have learned there these two emotions don’t get me anywhere. Worry keeps me in this place of uncertainty. “Worry is like a rocking chair – it gives you something to do, but it doesn’t get you anywhere.”―
I do know there is one thing that I can trust in and be certain about is my Creator and who He is. I know that I can trust in Him as He is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. “Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever.” Hebrews 13:8
So when life is full of uncertainty, I choose to believe in the One the who is certain because He knows the future and is sovereign over it all. I have to make a conscious choice to choose this rather than my default reaction of worry and anxiety. I also make the choice of joy in the uncertainty because I choose to trust in the One who is certain. And from these choices there comes peace in my Father.
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” ~ Philippians 4:6-7