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.***
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
Light in the darkness
That is who you are” – Way Maker
Yesterday I got news that a friend died from cancer. He leaves behind a wife, family and friends who are grieving his death. Tonight at church I had a hard time singing these lyrics to this song as I was processing my friend’s death. All a sudden I could not sing these words because I started to question why God did not heal my friend. If He is the miracle worker and promise keeper, why did He not heal my friend on this earth so that his family and friends do not need to feel this pain of him not being on this earth anymore?
There are many questions you ask when you are grieving and hurting. And it is hard to understand why God did not heal my friend on this earth. Why did my friend’s healing needed to include his death on earth? Why did he have to die at such young age? Why does his family and friends have to go through this pain? I do not have answers for these questions. I am a person that likes to know why. I do not know why my friend died and this truth is hard to grapple with.
Death has a hurt associated with it on earth as we as humans grieve a loss. Because this pain hurts and it is so real. I have felt it in the past and feel it now. Emotions are real and they are given to us by God to help process and experience life. But sometimes we have to be careful that we do not get caught in the hamster wheel of hopelessness when we are processing and experiencing our emotions.
In a time of grief, we can feel hopeless in our pain. But reality is that we can feel hope in a hopeless time. Tonight as a wrote out what I was feeling in my planner, I came to the conclusion that Jesus is my hope. Because He the source of my hope, I can have hope even when it seems hopeless. He does not break His promises to us. He is the source of miracles whether they are received here on earth or in heaven. He is a way maker when it seems like there is no way out. And my feelings do not negate these truths in this moment or any other moment.
Hannah in the Bible experienced this. In the midst of her pain of being barren, she cried out to God with her emotions but she anchored her hope in God even though her situation and pain did not change immediately. Her situation was hopeless and seemed impossible. Eventually she did receive her miracle of a son.
“In her deep anguish Hannah prayed to the Lord, weeping bitterly. And she made a vow, saying, “Lord Almighty, if you will only look on your servant’s misery and remember me, and not forget your servant but give her a son, then I will give him to the Lord for all the days of his life, and no razor will ever be used on his head.”
As she kept on praying to the Lord, Eli observed her mouth. Hannah was praying in her heart, and her lips were moving but her voice was not heard. Eli thought she was drunk and said to her, “How long are you going to stay drunk? Put away your wine.”
“Not so, my lord,” Hannah replied, “I am a woman who is deeply troubled. I have not been drinking wine or beer; I was pouring out my soul to the Lord. Do not take your servant for a wicked woman; I have been praying here out of my great anguish and grief.”
Eli answered, “Go in peace, and may the God of Israel grant you what you have asked of him.”
She said, “May your servant find favor in your eyes.” Then she went her way and ate something, and her face was no longer downcast.
Early the next morning they arose and worshiped before the Lord and then went back to their home at Ramah. Elkanah made love to his wife Hannah, and the Lord remembered her. So in the course of time Hannah became pregnant and gave birth to a son. She named him Samuel, saying, “Because I asked the Lord for him.” 1 Samuel 1:10-20
So tonight as I write this blog post, I may not understand why my friend’s death occurred. And the emotions I am feeling are real but tonight I chose to believe God’s truth over my emotions. And I choose to anchor my hope in Jesus because He helps to carry my emotions as I walk this journey in what may seem hopeless at times.
Recently I have been faced with one of the hardest things that I have had to go through in my adult life. While I am still in the midst of it all, there are a few things I have learned in last couple weeks.
He is here with me in my sadness.
He is here with me in the joyous moments.
He is here with me in the moments that I don’t understand.
He is here with me when I pretend to be ok and ignore my feelings.
He is here with me when I don’t understand my feelings and can’t put a name to it.
There is a song that I have been identifying with the last couple weeks.
Maybe it’s ok if I’m not ok
‘Cause the One who holds the world is holding onto me
Maybe it’s all right if I’m not all right
‘Cause the One who holds the stars is holding my whole life
“Maybe It’s Ok”by We are Messengers.
While I don’t know when this will end, I do know that God with me in the midst of the storm. He is teaching me new things in this storm. I trust Him in the midst of the storm.
If you are going through a hard season in life, look at what you can learn through it all. Look to the peace in the storm rather than focusing on the storm.
Recently life has thrown some challenges at me and my family. Some of the challenges could be enough to shake someone’s faith. Some of the things are big and life changing. There are a few things I learned along that way or that I have been reminded of; as I deal with and process the events that have been happening.
First, that God is still good and sovereign no matter what life puts in my path. And He walks right beside me as I walk through the trials of life. These trials in life did not surprise Him. He knew they were coming. I am grateful that this is a foundation in my life because without this life would be much harder than it already is. “The LORD is good to all, And His mercies are over all His works.” – Psalms 145:9
Second, the peace of God is worth more than the most expensive item on earth! If you don’t have peace it robs you of the amazing things that God has in store for you and your life. I am grateful that I have His peace as I journey through life. “For the mountains may move and the hills disappear, but even then my faithful love for you will remain. My covenant of blessing will never be broken, says the Lord, who has mercy on you.” – Isaiah 54:10
Third, my strength come from the Creator of all things. There are times I feel weak and do not feel strong enough to go through the battles of life. I have realized my strength comes from Him and not from myself. On my own I will never be strong enough. I will always be weak on my own without Him. This is a relief knowing that I do not have to strong and that I can go to my Father for the strength I lack. “The Lord will give strength to His people; the Lord will bless his people with peace. – Psalm 29:11”
Fourth, my emotions and life circumstances will not dictate on whether I have joy and peace. Sure I will have days where emotions will be strong and life circumstances will be hard. Because I am human! But they can not take my joy and peace away. I will have joy even in the moments that I would rather have a pity party for myself. “But let all who take refuge in you rejoice; let them ever sing for joy, and spread your protection over them, that those who love your name may exult in you.” – Psalms 5:11
Life is full of lessons and reminders. And there is a joy and peace when it does not makes sense to have it when you are walking the journey with your Creator. What lessons or reminders has God given you when life is crazy and tough?