Have you been tuning into John Krasinski’s web series, Some Good News? If you haven’t, there are few things that I would recommend more as a source of joy and hope in these times of change. And if you have, then you likely understand and share the appreciation I have for it.
In the recent graduation themed episode, my appreciation expanded beyond the usual sentiments because it led me to some introspection that I feel compelled to share. Despite my own college graduation dating back 7 years now, the charges made to this year’s graduates spurred me on and challenged me to evaluate my own life.
Apart from the (what feels like) routine reminder for me to step out of my comfort zones and reject my fear of failure, the most significant words I heard came from Jon Stewart’s commencement conversation with a young grad. In response to the question “now what?” Jon pointed out that after graduation, you enter into a world where no one is grading you anymore. So his advice was:
“Stop completing things, and start living them.”
These words struck a deep chord for me. Because I realized how much I have lived my life to be graded or measured. As an enneagram 1, I want to measure up. I want to meet and exceed standards. I like the satisfaction of completing things. In hindsight I think that played a big role in my success in school. But it wasn’t until I heard Jon’s words that I considered how I have been unconsciously seeking new standards to measure myself by ever since I received my diploma. I’ve bounced from one measurement to the next, creating confusion and overwhelm regarding how I’m supposed to be living my life. I’ve measured myself in my job status, my job type, my job performance, my fitness level, my weight, my appearance, my ability to achieve goals, my social life – just to name a few. And I can guess that if I asked a handful of people how they try to measure up, they may hold to a variety of other categories. There are so many ways that we could measure or grade ourselves. But there’s two significant problems when we do. One, it can lead us to a life of comparison, which sets us up for a constant cycle of pride and insecurity as we consider ourselves ahead or behind others (which can also be extremely detrimental to how we relate to others). And two, it leads us to find our worth and value as a person in how we measure up to constantly fluctuating, vague standards. Talk about an exhausting identity rollercoaster ride that leaves you feeling defeated or unsure of who you are by the end.
So what if we ditched the need to measure up? What if we silenced the pressure to meet the mark? I certainly don’t mean we should give up trying at things or challenging ourselves. What I mean is doing what Jon Stewart suggested – stop completing things, and start living them.
Stop treating life like we are working for a grade at the end of it. Stop doing things just to say we did them. Stop turning life into a task, because it’s so much more complex than finished products and checked boxes. And rather than struggle to figure out HOW to measure up, we can be freed up to believe that it’s not about measuring up at all. We’ve all been leveled at the foot of the cross. The work has already been finished.
So let’s get out there and go for it.
Stop completing things. Stop doing things just to check them off. Instead, enjoy them. Make the most of them. Fail at them, and try again at them. Find inspiration from them. Learn from them. Suck all the goodness you can out of them. Live them.
I hope that this resonates with at least someone, and I hope I’m at least making some kind of sense. I’m definitely still processing through this, because it’s challenging a way of thinking that I didn’t even fully realize I had. But in light of what this post is all about, I’m sharing the incompleteness. I don’t have it all figured out. In fact, everything I share on this blog I try to share not from the position of an expert, but from the perspective of a fellow traveler on this journey of life. So let’s all get out there and go for it. Together.
Not too long ago I wrote an entire post about the challenge of saying no to a good opportunity because I felt like it wasn’t what God was calling me to. Well, I’m going to be a bit transparent here and confess that I have a bit of a follow up story that I feel compelled to share about. If you didn’t catch it, you can read up on the first part of this story here (otherwise this post won’t make as much sense). Once you’re caught up, here’s part two…
The story picks up when I realized that I unintentionally left my husband out of the decision making process about not pursuing this job opportunity. I had resolved so quickly that I heard God tell me this wasn’t the path for me that I seemingly already had my mind made up by the time I spoke to him (which just so happened to be the day before the initial post about it went live). But in our conversation, he pointed out how he wished he would have been included in the decision. I felt crushed because he was right. I totally didn’t mean to leave him out, but in doing so, I hurt him. As we talked it out and resolved our conflict, we were able to come to a better understanding with each other, but as I processed through where my head was at with him, I felt even more confused about my decision. I was still struggling so much with insecurity over my job status (or lack thereof) and uncertainty of God’s path for me. Which led me to wrestle even more with whether I heard from God, or if it was just my doubts or insecurities getting louder in my head. My word of the year has been obedience, and in this situation I was struggling to determine what the right step was. I kept dwelling on how perfect of an opportunity this would be in our transient life; how fitting of a job it was for me; and how passionate I was about the business I could potentially work for. But I didn’t want to disobey God if He told me no. And to be truly transparent, I wrestled through feeling hypocritical by posting about something on my blog and then following through in the complete opposite way (talk about a twisted form of accountability). But if this was an opportunity God did actually have for me, I didn’t want to miss out just because I spoke too soon. I also uncovered the faltering confidence I had in myself to follow through on what God was calling me to.
If this all sounds like a jumbled, back and forth, mess, then welcome to the fairly normal state of my brain :). As I processed these thoughts on my own and with my husband (don’t worry, I didn’t make the same mistake twice here), it all boiled down to one question for me: Would I be disobedient if I at least tried to pursue this job and see what would happen? Then I could know for sure one way or the other if this was what God had for me.
I decided to pray about it over that weekend to ask for direction on what to do. I prayed expectantly, knowing that if God wanted to be clear with me, then He would be. So I prayed for an obvious answer to whether or not it would be okay for me to apply for the job and let the results that would come be my answer. I prayed over that weekend for God to shut it down or make it really evident if He did not want me to pursue that route. And come Sunday night, I still didn’t have a clear answer one way or the other. So I felt like I was in the clear to go for it, still praying along the way for God to close the door at any point that I would be stepping out of His will.
I spent the next two days putting together my application, updating my resume, and filming an intro video to fulfill the requested requirements, and the more I put into it, the more I became passionate about this job. While I continued to pray through it that God’s will would be done, I expressed to God many times how much I really wanted this job. But because staying in line with God’s will for me felt more important than getting my way, I also prayed that if this was not where God intended me to be right now that He would essentially hide me from the view of the hiring team. And while I felt like the role was perfect for me, I prayed for them to find the person that was perfect for them. I tried my best to go into this with open hands, because I knew that I was essentially testing the waters with it, so I recognized the possibility that the answer would be “no”. And I prayed through my fears with that too. I knew it was going to be so hard to put in all this effort just to get turned down. But the door remained open, so I kept at it until I officially submitted my application and left it in God’s hands.
And then…I waited. The timing of my application fell right amidst a big launch season for the business, so I patiently and anxiously waited for them to wade through this busy time before they turned their attention to filling this position, all the while remaining hopeful about my possible future. After waiting for about 4 weeks, I finally heard from them regarding my application. And as much as I wish this story had a fairy tale ending, I was informed of their decision to go with another candidate. I didn’t even get an interview. I’ll be honest, I was so bummed. I spent the past month and a half thinking and growing passionate about the possibilities of this job. And I didn’t even get a call back. I told my husband, cried it out for about two minutes, and then I laid it all before God. I finally had my clear answer.
In the end, even though it wasn’t the answer I came to hope for, I was still thankful for a decision, because the limbo of it was starting to stress me out. I thought back to my prayers as I entered into this endeavor. I was confident in being the perfect candidate for the position, so I trusted that if I didn’t get the job, it would surely be God closing the door (that may sound a bit prideful, but I just had a lot of confidence in my experience and skills to fit this position). And that’s exactly what He did. He didn’t drag me along through the interview process only to fall more in love with the idea of working for this business and for the amazing woman that runs it. He didn’t lead me to a job offer that He didn’t want me to take in the first place. He gently shut the door and affirmed that the answer was no, at least for now. And I accepted that. It took me a day or two to really leave behind the weight of it, but I accepted it, because I had nothing but truth to turn to anytime I started to feel down about it.
I don’t regret applying. I don’t regret testing God’s will. I think it can feel a little sticky to do that – like, who am I to question God? And is it unfaithful of me to still go for something when I think I heard God say no? I don’t think the answer to that is very clear cut. It’s very gray. Just like so much of life. And at the end of it all, I think I did well to act obediently, even when things were uncertain.
Here’s the thing, God doesn’t give us an exact road map of every step He thinks we should take. If He did, He’d be domineering and abrasive, and we’d be more like robots than humans, and that’s not the God I know. He gave us this gift of free will so that we could choose our own paths, with the hope and desire for us to recognize Him and choose Him anyhow. And without going into a full-on theological discussion about free will, I just want to make the point that God often doesn’t speak clearly about what we’re supposed to do. He equips us to lean on Him and make the best decision possible. In this specific circumstance, I relied on my faith in God’s truths, prayer, and my husband’s insight to determine whether or not this was His path for me – all of which are good things that He has gifted me with to utilize in this life.
The rule follower in me sure wishes I had a black and white instruction manual so I could please God and do everything right in life. But that’s not what God created me for. And that’s not what God saved me for. Jesus is my perfection. And if I don’t have weaknesses; if I don’t make mistakes; if I don’t have some missteps; then I miss out on the wonderful grace and redemption of God. I miss out on the full picture of who God is and who He created me to be.
So even though I took a long detour to get back to an answer that God initially gave me, I came away with more certainty in that answer, and with more certainty that God is for me. He wants good for me. He doesn’t hold out on me. He offers me abundance and wants me to take hold of it. And if I believe all of that, then I can trust that the path He’s leading me on is far better for me in the end than any plan I could create myself. Will there be bumps on that path? Oh I’m sure. It’s typically through the bumps and dips and stumbling blocks that I learn and grow most, which leads me to look even just a bit more like Jesus and glorify Him all the more. That’s the sanctifying journey He’s got me on.
So I share this story to say that sometimes it’s okay to test God’s will. Sometimes it’s okay to explore options to try to determine the best decision. It’s definitely okay to ask God for directions. And sometimes He’ll give them (turns out Him telling me no on the first day this job position came to my attention was accurate), but sometimes He won’t. But as long as we continue to seek Him in the process I think that He will honor the path we’re taking. Of course I want to be a wholehearted, faithful servant always, but sometimes I’m a bit like Thomas, who needed to see the holes in Jesus’ hands and feel the hole in Jesus’ side for himself after the resurrection to confirm his faith (John 20:24-29). Sometimes we feel a need for a little extra evidence to make sense of this God who is so magnificent and wild that our human minds can’t fully understand Him. And even if we don’t get all that we’re looking for, we can still trust that He is good.
I still stand behind what I said in part one of this story, and I 100% believe that we can say no to good things without testing them. But I also believe that God isn’t going to smite me for wanting to be sure of His answer if my end goal is to be obedient. Like I said, there’s no clear cut way to approach situations like this. This situation is unique to me in this exact season of life I’m in. So the same approach likely won’t even work for myself in a different circumstance of life. Just like my approach to this isn’t a step by step process for you to follow in your own life either. But I hope that my experiences, both of saying no to something good, as well as second guessing that no and testing out God’s will for me anyhow, leads you to examine your own approach to life. I pray that you would seek God and long for His plans for you to unfold and trust that they are good, and the rest will eventually fall into place.
Have you ever had a time when you tested God’s will in your life? What was the end result? I’d love to hear about it in the comments!
Well hey friend, it’s been a little while since we’ve caught up so I’m thrilled that we were able to carve out some time for a coffee date today. When we last did this, I was on the cusp of a new season of life [read more here], so it’s only natural that the first question that rolls off your tongue as we cozy up is regarding that.
You ask what I’ve been up to and how I’m enjoying staying at home right now. And while it’s truly been good, it also has felt slightly complicated. In the grand scheme of things, it hasn’t felt like I’ve been up to much, and yet I constantly feel like I don’t have enough time to do all the things I want to do. I’ve spent the last few months figuring out new routines so I can continue to be productive and live my days intentionally, especially when it comes to blogging – which I’ll get to in a minute – but I still feel like I’m finding my footing with it, and figuring out the most successful rhythms. I’ve been trying to capitalize on this time and space that I’ve got by taking the best possible care of myself and setting up a good structure to build off of in whatever season is to come next. But I can’t help but feel that everything I’m doing is very basic, because I was maintaining many of the same areas of life while I was still working. And I’d be lying if I said that being unemployed hasn’t rocked my identity a bit. But I keep finding myself overly grateful for the extra time to invest more into these valuable areas of life. I’ve had the space to figure things out amidst the changes, to process all that is happening in my life, and to prepare for whatever might be next. And the timing of it all has proven to be graciously not-so-coincidental.
You see, I recently recognized that we’re in the midst of a limbo season, and it primarily hinges on our timeline with the Air Force. In short, we were due to move on to our next base this fall, but there’s now a good probability that we could be extended here longer and would then expect to move next summer. But, in true military fashion, we don’t have a definitive answer one way or the other yet. And even if we’ve been told that the odds are high that we will be staying put a little longer, I’ve learned to not let myself believe that something is certain with the Air Force until we have it in writing, or until it actually happens. So that leaves us still waiting on a final answer.
I’m not necessarily stressed about the outcome – there are positives to each option for us, so I don’t think I’ll be disappointed either way. But what I have been finding to be a bit more weighty is that every other life decision feels like it is on hold while we wait. Our travel plans, our involvement in our church and other activities, home improvement ideas, my employment status, purchasing a new car, and just overall decisions for our family – they all feel dependent on when we will be moving. Because there is a big difference between moving in seven months, and moving in fifteen. And so at this point I’m coping by not making any further big decisions until we know the answer to that. Hence, our limbo season.
But we seem to be doing okay with it. We’re hoping to know more by the end of the month (maybe…), but until then, I’m trying to just lean into the tension of the in-between by taking whatever next right steps I can. I might not know the exact destination or timeline we’re headed towards, but that doesn’t mean I should stop living.
And one way I’ve been trying to lean in is by figuring out my blog. You might remember that as a result of my strong sense of calling to invest into this space, one of my 2020 goals is to treat blogging like it’s my job – AKA I’m trying to take it seriously, devote time and attention to it, and give myself some structure to work on it. And I’m still very much figuring this out. I came out the gate in January full speed ahead with pumping out two posts a week, which was my goal, but as I continued that pace into February, I felt myself burning out quickly by the middle of the month. While some things were going well, it was evident that other things weren’t working on the back end, so that led me to reassess my tactics. And in doing so, I came to the epiphany that it is okay for my blog to be a work in progress. It is okay for me to experiment with different tactics until I land on what works best for me. While I benefit from resources and wisdom from successful bloggers, I’m accepting that I can pave my own path and write my own story – especially because my measure of success is likely a bit different than the norm.
So I’ve recently felt a bit freed up to figure out what works for ME. And in doing so I have given myself permission to embrace experimentation; to allow myself to trial and error; to let go of my fear of failure because the only way I’m going to figure out what works for me is to actually put things to work. I recently read the quote “Be brave enough to suck at something new.” And while blogging in itself isn’t entirely new to me, growing it into what I want it to be is. And so it is okay for me to flail and get scrappy and get a bit roughed up if in the end it leads to me knowing exactly how I want to continue with it. The only person that is demanding anything of me and my blog right now, is me. So it’s time I take the pressure off and allow myself to figure out how I can sustainably enjoy it. And oh, let me tell ya, what a sense of relief that’s been.
As we continue to chat and sip on our coffees, I exhaust the topics of my life, and start asking about you. I want to hear all about what you’ve been up to lately. What’s been bringing you joy? What’s been hard? It’s always so rejuvenating for me to connect over the realness of life, and I’m so glad to have a friend like you to do that with.
We finish our drinks, wrap up our conversation, and give each other a big hug, agreeing (like we always do) that we really should do this more often.
A few days ago I filled up the last page of another prayer journal. As I did, I looked back to the first page, back to September 12th – almost exactly five months ago. I scanned over the words I wrote to God when I asked Him to meet me within the pages of this journal. I had asked with anticipation for Him to lead me and guide me through whatever would come my way. Little did I know what those five months would hold. I considered how much has changed since I wrote that prayer on the first page. And then I considered how much of that change was processed and recorded within the pages that followed. The processing of decisions about our future, the downward spiral of the gym I worked for, the uncertainty of my next steps after job loss, finding and settling into new routines, further establishing our sense of community where we live – all of this and much, much more were processed at length. And while the processing wasn’t always pretty, and the outcomes of some situations weren’t always tied up with a neat bow, I was still able to fill the last lines of this journal with thanksgiving towards God for the way He has helped me through it all. I was able to say with certainty and with joy that the Lord is faithful.
While journaling my prayers has become a life altering habit in my faith and life, there’s a specific practice within it that has been the ultimate game changer for me. It’s what prayer journaling allows me the space to do. It’s what led me from the first page to the last page of this journal with an ever increasing trust in the Lord, despite a rollercoaster of circumstances. And it’s what has ultimately allowed about the greatest transformation in my heart. What I want to share about with you today is the concept of getting real with God.
What do I mean by that? Well, I mean sharing your whole and complete self with God. I mean opening up and letting Him into the lightest and brightest, as well as the deepest and darkest crevices of your soul. I mean putting it all out on the table – mess and all. I believe that prayer is a gift we’ve been given as a means to communicate with our Father and Creator, Redeemer and Savior. And if we don’t utilize it, we are the ones missing out. If all we do is say fluffy or repetitive or extravagant or forced words that we don’t even really mean, then are we actually communicating? Or, if all we do is have surface level conversations with God, constantly asking Him for things, but we hide our real hurts or wicked thoughts, are we really allowing God to change our hearts?
So I’ve learned to bare it all out there and confess who I am, exactly as I am. I say learned, because it’s often not easy. I don’t enjoy being vulnerable. As an enneagram 1, I don’t like facing my mistakes. I don’t like revealing the messy sides of me. I’d much rather talk about the neat and tidy parts of life. But I started to accept that if I can’t bring my full, whole self before God, who loves me unconditionally and more than anyone else, then I’m never going to be able to share my full, whole self with anyone. We used to attend a church that often said, “Bring the mess, Jesus can handle it.” And while we didn’t stick around that church long for unrelated reasons, that idea has stuck with me. If anyone can handle the worst parts of me, it’s Jesus. And so there is no safer place for me to be real. He already knows my heart and my thoughts anyways – and more deeply than I do at that. He’s not shocked by my sins and secrets. And He already went to the cross on behalf of them. So why not lay them before Him and ask Him to help me deal with them, rather than be consumed with worry that I’m going to be found out?
So I do that by being raw and honest with God when we chat. Sometimes that means I’m overjoyed and full of gratitude, so I pour out my thanksgiving and praise. But other times I boil over in anger, I cry out in sorrow, I dump out my overwhelm, I own up to my failures, I wrestle with my disappointment, I confess my fears, I demand change in what I deem unjust situations, I ask Him “why?”, I beg for miracles. Most emotions humans are capable of, I’ve probably hashed out with God at some point. And if you look back through that list, you can probably guess that it doesn’t always look pretty.
But the more I’ve opened up about the real stuff, the more He has cleared out the crud and transformed my heart. And the more He’s done that, the more I’ve seen His gentleness, and faithfulness, and patience, and grace. I’ve gotten to experience God’s love and mercy for me amidst my harshest moments. And as a result, my faith has grown exponentially as I’ve experienced what feels like His miracle work in my life. There is no specific method to it. There are no magic words to say. There’s no right or wrong strategy. It’s just me laying myself bare and coming before the throne of my Savior and King to seek His guidance.
I firmly believe that by inviting God in, He more easily brings deep change in my heart and life, because I’m no longer resisting. It has given me an incredibly fresh and real meaning to Jesus as my Wonderful Counselor. Because there have been times that I’ve walked away from journaling feeling like I just came straight out of a therapy session.
It’s through this practice and allowing the Holy Spirit to really have His way with me that I’ve realized how much I have a fear of failure. I’ve had my eyes opened to how much of an idol I’ve made of comfort in my life. I’ve recognized my shortcomings in communicating in my marriage and found ways to strengthen it. I’ve found hope and direction in the face of unknown. I’ve gained better understanding of other people in my life, and I’ve definitely gained better understanding of myself. I’ve had the opportunity to see God pull all of the loose threads together in so many situations to complete the fuller picture. I’ve also had the opportunity of finding peace while the threads are all still loose.
By offering up the junk and the mess and the mire within me, God has taken it and used it to teach me, grow me, change me, transform me, and ultimately bring me into His freedom. He knows that there are times I’ve needed gentle correction, and other times that have required a not-so-subtle kick in the pants. Of course there are messy feelings and words that come out that aren’t so honoring to God, but by giving it all over to Him, I have a safe place to sort through them, rather than let them bubble over in even greater sin, and possibly making it worse. By acknowledging that my heart isn’t always in the place it’s “supposed” to be, I’m able to give God the room to mold it and shape it to make it new. THIS is how I become more like Jesus – not by striving to obtain a certain character trait through practice (though that’s not necessarily a bad thing). But by handing over the deepest, darkest parts of myself and letting God do His redeeming work – letting Him get to be the hero that He is. Sometimes that means He eradicates the tough stuff, and sometimes that means He shines through it.
So however you pray, I urge you to be completely and wholly honest with God. Give Him it all. Each and every emotion. Each and every light and heavy thought. Each and every shortcoming and failure. I promise you, He wants to hear from you. He wants to shine light in those dark corners you’ve been working so hard to hide – not to embarrass you or to hurt you, but to set you free. It might still feel uncomfortable to be exposed, but there is no safer place than in the shadow of God’s wings. He is the most wonderful counselor I’ve ever known. I hope you can know Him as that too.
What about you? How do you best connect with God? Do you feel like you could get a little more real with Him when you talk to Him? Or have you experienced His work in your heart because of a time you were real with Him? I’d love to hear in the comments.
Last week I saw a job posting for the pilates platform that I’ve been using and loving for the last month. It intrigued me, especially because literally moments before I saw it I was on a walk with our pups listening to a podcast interview with the founder/CEO and daydreaming about what it could look like to work for her and her business someday. So I took a look at the job description and qualifications. As I scanned over the details I considered how perfect of a fit this could be for me. It’s a mobile position that could be done from anywhere; it would only be 20-30 hours a week; the pay is more than what I was making in my previous job; the work itself seemed doable and enjoyable; I’m perfectly qualified for the position in just about every way; and most significantly to me, it’s a business that I can wholeheartedly get behind – one that encapsulates many of my recent passions, experiences, and interests. I don’t know if I could quite call it a dream job, but it sure felt like a dream opportunity.
But before I could even consider clicking the button to “Apply Here” I felt a pause within me – a stop in my mind reminding me of what God has called me to in this season. A calling that I have been so sure of because He has affirmed it over and over again. And He again affirmed me of it on this day when I considered an alternative route. A route that seems to be crafted just for me. A route that would surely allow me to work for the good of others and the glory of God. A route that appears to be a good and exciting opportunity.
And yet, it would be a route different from the one that God has so strategically paved for me. The route that I seemingly lost my job for. The route that has given me fresh faith and hope in the midst of a confusing season. The route that has me so closely clinging to Jesus amidst unknowns and doubts and fears. The route that has roots that go at least six years deep. The route that I feel strongly the Lord has assured me great abundance through.
It’s not that I think God wouldn’t want me to pursue a good opportunity like this because He doesn’t want me to have something good. I don’t think that He’s trying to hold out on me. What I do think is that He doesn’t want me to pursue this opportunity because He’s trying to help me be obedient to the one He’s already placed before me.
Remember that word of obedience I felt so confident the Lord had given me for this year? He’s been extraordinarily clear that it’s been from Him because it keeps coming up over and over again. In podcasts and books, in sermons and instagram posts. The Lord has been remarkably timely in His assurance to me of what my focus is to be right now. Like, so timely that I’ll be experiencing some doubts or fears, and within hours, or even minutes, I come across some words that speak directly against them. I’m not even kidding that it happened via my instagram feed when I was taking a break (cough procrastinating cough) writing this post. You wanna know what it said?
“Oof, ohhhhkay,” I said audibly as I read that and set my phone down, feeling slightly like someone just read my mind.
God has been so gracious to me. In all of my life, but especially in this recent season. He’s been teaching me so much, and uncovering so much within me, it’s almost overwhelming. And it’s established my trust in Him all the more. Because of that trust, I believe that writing and working on this blog is the assignment He’s given me right now. I believe that through this assignment, He is leading me on a path towards abundance. Where it leads and what that abundance looks like, I still have no idea. But when God speaks so loudly and plainly and clearly to you, it means He has a plan. And He’s God, so you know it’s going to be good in the end.
So I told myself ‘no’ to this seemingly great opportunity. And it hasn’t been easy to do so. I could start numerous other conversations about how I’ve felt guilty for not contributing financially to our family, or how I’ve wrestled with insecurity over identifying as ‘unemployed,’ or as a ‘blogger,’ or how I’ve felt bad for having so much free time to do things I enjoy while my husband goes to work each day; so this job could help solve all of those issues. But I’ve considered in Matthew 4 where the devil tempted Jesus by suggesting He do things that altogether weren’t bad and would, in theory, glorify God. But Jesus rebuked the devil because if He was to do any of those things, He would have faltered away from God’s ultimate rescue plan for us (Matthew 4:1-11). It would have completely changed the endgame. I wouldn’t quite consider this job posting I saw as a temptation from the devil, but my reasons for pursuing it would certainly be fueled by fear and doubt and a distrust that God has good plans for me where I’m at.
Saying no can be a hard thing to do in general. Whether it’s not wanting to disappoint someone, or there’s a fear of missing out, it’s just not always a natural thing to do. But it is easier when the option before you is a no brainer. It’s easier when there’s an obvious reason that an option is not the right fit for you, or it doesn’t line up with your plans or vision. However, I’m finding it most challenging when the option sounds like a good one. It’s challenging when it lines up with your passions or it has the potential to be really fruitful.
This job could be a truly wonderful opportunity, but I’m settled in the choice that it’s just not what I’m called to right now. So I’m holding onto the sure promise to those that follow God that, “According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you.” (1 Peter 1: 3-4). And that inheritance is going to be better than anything we can imagine.
I’m hopeful that I made the right choice.
What about you friends? Is there something good that you’ve had to say no to in order to remain obedient to what God is calling you to? Or is there something you think maybe you need to start saying no to in order to give God your ultimate yes? Surely I can’t be the only one in the trenches of this. I’d truly love to hear from you in the comments.
Hi friends! It’s been awhile since we have really caught up, so I thought it’d be nice to carve out some time for a hypothetical coffee date today. Will you join me?
As we order our warm drinks and find a cozy spot in the coffee shop we catch up on what’s been going on in your life. Afterwards, the conversation turns and you ask what’s new with me.
For awhile now, whenever I’ve been asked this question my go-to response is “honestly not too much, just living life.” I never say that to withhold anything. I’ve said it simply because it’s true. But today, I chuckle on the inside because for once, that response isn’t fitting. Because the last two months have been a bit of a rollercoaster.
I fumble with my words as I find the best way to portray what has been going on, but it comes out plainly that the gym I worked for went out of business at the beginning of December, and I am currently unemployed. As the words come out of my mouth, the questions that everyone has asked me quickly come out of yours. Did I know? How am I doing? What am I going to do next? And so we dive into the depths of where my head and heart are at.
In regards to the end of the gym, it was quick, but not sudden, if that makes sense. We hit a tough year with the fitness market in our area, and people just weren’t coming in the door like they used to. All year we had been digging our heels in and fighting as best we could to help the business stay alive, and hopefully thrive again. Unfortunately, in the end, our efforts came up short, and due to a combination of circumstances the decision was made to close up shop the first week of December.
Obviously the ending of a business isn’t easy for anyone involved – the owners, the staff, or the clients – so the final days felt a bit subdued. It’s certainly been sad to experience the end of this chapter. But at the same time, I’m surprisingly doing really okay with it all. For one, our last week of business was full of reminiscing on the highs and lows of the journey, giving us the opportunity to end with gratefulness for all we had done. But more significantly for me, in the last month or so of business – when it was still being determined if we were going to remain open or call it good – I spent a lot of time at the feet of Jesus in prayer about the entire situation. And in many different ways, bit by bit, God gave me overwhelming feelings of peace, hope, and faith.
The root of it stems from when God’s living and active Word seemed to speak directly to my circumstances. The Bible study I was going through happened to lead me to John 15 when Jesus is telling his disciples about how he is the true vine, and instructing them to abide in him. Amidst this conversation, he says “Every branch in me that does not bear fruit [God] takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit” (John 15:2). Even though this wasn’t the focal point of my study, these words stood out in a way I couldn’t shake.
You see, this job has been incredibly fruitful in my life. I still firmly believe it was all in God’s perfect plan that I landed where I was (which may be a story for another day). My entire experience there brought so much to my personal and professional life: refinement and growth, new physical and mental strength, and new knowledge and new skills. Plus, I hope and believe that I had a positive impact on the people I interacted with on a daily basis. Even as the office manager, I had the opportunity to come alongside our clients within the challenges of their own health journeys and cheer them on. In the two years I worked at this gym, God streamlined some major refinement on areas of my heart and life that were long time struggles, and I don’t believe they could have been worked out as effectively in any other way. So with all of that being said, as I read verse 2, I viewed this job as a fruit bearing part of my life, and with it at risk of being stripped away, I asked myself, “could it be because God wants me to bear more fruit?” Perhaps everything that God has been doing within me in the last two years (both in this job, and outside of it) would now give way for such a time as this.
And what is “this” exactly? Well, despite my continued insecurity of how lame it may sound, I remind you of my firm belief that God has called me, and keeps calling me, to blog, but I haven’t found the footing to fully commit to it as much as I’d like to. So, what if God is removing this piece of my life so that I can once and for all not have any valid excuse standing in my way of being obedient to Him? Not even a job that consumes time and energy that I could be using to blog, or to invest in some relationships in deeper ways. At first, it just felt like a hopeful wish. I had a brief season of being a “stay-at-home-wife” years ago when Adam was in his job training, and I loved it. In fact, that’s when I took my first steps of obedience in starting my blog. But is it really practical and wise for me to stay at home when I’m perfectly capable of working? It feels like a selfish desire, and can I be completely honest with you? I’m worried it could make me appear like a lazy, freeloader. But the details seemed to keep leaving the door open. With adjustment we can survive off of Adam’s income, we will only be living in Cheyenne so much longer so I could be limited on time, etc. And my greatest affirmation has come in the form of my sweet husband’s support. In fact, he has been more forward about me taking this time to follow God’s call than I have been. So I’ve been swallowing my pride, and trying to accept that while some people may not understand this decision, God has been intently calling me to this for so long that I can’t doubt that He has greater plans than I can imagine. And if He takes what feels like an extreme measure to remove my job title, then I should really start taking this seriously.
And so, since the first week of December I’ve slowly been determining what this new season is going to look like. I took a bit of time to recoup, recover, and do what felt like grieve after the dust finally settled. And now I’m seeking to establish new rhythms and routines to set up a healthy structure in this seemingly unstructured season of life. But I’m also really heading into this season with open hands; trying to remain attentive to what God is leading me towards, and trying to become more fervent in obediently following Him, wherever that might be.
I’m hopeful. I’m apprehensive. I’m excited. I’m still insecure at times. In some ways this decision feels like it doesn’t make sense. But then again, both in Scripture and in life I have witnessed God move in the biggest ways through the nonsensical (I mean, for crying out loud, we did just celebrate a holiday centered on Jesus’ virgin birth). I’ve had fear that people may question these choices, but the Holy Spirit keeps reminding me that it could raise the opportunity for me to proclaim my belief that God is on the move and that He is faithful through it all.
I finally pause to take the last sip of my coffee. You smile at me, and express your happiness for me in this new season and for what God has already started doing in me. I thank you for your listening ear, your understanding, and your encouragement. It helps affirm me even more on the path I feel God leading me on. And I look forward to hopefully having more time for get-togethers like this in this season.
We grab our coats, toss our cups, give each other a big hug, and head our separate ways. Until next time, friend…
Hi friends! I know it’s been a bit quiet around here over the summer and the past months. And rather than just pick up where I left off and pretend like it never happened – which trust me, I kind of wanted to do – I feel compelled to share with you why.
I’ve been in a confusing spot when it comes to this blog. It’s been on my mind consistently – whether I’m thinking of ideas for posts, or I’m just thinking about how I haven’t produced much for it. It’s something I truly want to be investing in. And yet, I haven’t been making time for it.
One reason why comes down to distraction. The biggest culprits of time fillers in my life lately are scrolling on my phone or binge watching Survivor, making my schedule feel deceptively more “busy” than it actually is.
A similar reason why comes down to procrastination. Putting it off until the time feels right. Until I’m in the mood. Until everything else on my never ending to-do list is done first so that all of my distractions are diminished. Until I have more time and more focus.
But truthfully, what it really comes down to is fear.
What if no one reads what I write? I put so much thought and attention into what I put on here, so if no one really engages with what I share, that can be really disappointing.
What if people do read it and don’t like it? All the more disappointing.
What if I’m a fool for thinking that I have anything original or unique to share?
What if people think I’m being “extra” for being a blogger? I mean, I already feel silly enough mentioning to someone that I have a blog. Extra is one of the last things I want to be.
Or what if it people do read it? What if what I share from my heart and about my life is put out there and complete strangers know too much? What if I don’t set good enough boundaries and I find myself too vulnerable? I mean, the internet is a scary place these days.
And what if I make it about me? I know the Lord has called me to write for this blog, but what if instead of Him getting the glory, I miss the point and become a distraction from the gospel?
And the biggest whopper of them all – the one that encompasses them all – what if I fail?
Whether those “what ifs” are reasonable or not, they have been real thoughts and fears in my mind. They are thoughts and fears that I have had to wrestle with. They are still thoughts and fears that I have to fight with.
My general fear of failure came to light in my life in big ways last year, but it has shape-shifted a bit when it comes to blogging. As strange as it feels sometimes, I truly believe this blog is something God has called me to. I don’t think it’s coincidental that after all these years, whether I have been posting or not, that this space is regularly on my mind. Through many prayers about it, I have felt nothing but affirmation that this is an open door God has placed before me. It feels like a natural way for me to utilize some of my God given gifts. It’s felt like that since the conception of this space.
With that in mind, this blog is not something I want to take lightly. I don’t want to treat it passively, but very intentionally. If it’s meant to be for the glory of God, then I want to do it well (a perspective that I hope one day reflects all capacities of my life). But with that perspective I unintentionally put pressure on myself when I rely on my own strength, and it gives way to my fear of doing it wrong, because I feel like there’s more on the line.
Towards the end of the summer, amidst wrestling with some of these lingering fears, I joined in on the launch team for Jess Connolly‘s latest book “You Are The Girl For The Job.” If you are unfamiliar with Jess, she is one of my favorite authors and truth speakers (I highly recommend following her on instagram for a daily dose of truth and encouragement). But I digress…To be honest, I was excited for this book simply because it was written by Jess, and I liked what I saw of the build up for what it was about, but I didn’t realize just how much it was for me. It ended up exposing some of these fears I had been facing, and it spoke straight to them – or against them, I should say. It unveiled a lot of deep rooted reasons I was holding myself back from truly running on mission for Jesus, and it equipped and spurred me on to choose obedience in all capacities of life, INCLUDING this blog, so I could glorify God, benefit others, and in the process experience the Lord’s abundance.
I could share quote after quote from this book (trust me, I have literally half of the pages underlined), but in correlation with what I’m sharing here, this was one excerpt that literally took my breath away and almost left me in tears:
“I need the gentle reminder that I can’t fail God because He never put me on a pedestal. Not once has God gotten our relationship confused and expected me to be the perfect one. Not once has God put pressure on me to produce something worthy of His affection. Not once in my entire existence has He forgotten that I am the workmanship and He is the creator. I often forget that, but He never does…Jesus cannot be disappointed by your failure, because (A) He is all-knowing and chose you anyhow, seeing all your wins and all your losses, and (B) He has never put pressure on you to produce. You are HIS workmanship, and the rest is worship.”
These words cut me to my core in the most disarming and freeing ways. I think because they speak against so many of my natural thought processes (I’m a 1 on the enneagram if that helps explain anything). I’m still working to let these words, and so many others from YATGFTJ, change me, and a step in that for me is through choosing obedience when it comes to this blog.
I’m fighting to believe that this is something the Lord has called me to and equipped me for. And because that belief has carried on from the day I started thinking about starting a blog, I’m fighting to believe that He has abundance in store through it. The truth is, I’m doing it wrong if I don’t even try. God isn’t going to be glorified by this blog if I sit back and shirk away from an opportunity He has given to me specifically. He will certainly go on and continue to be glorified in other ways, but then I miss out on the abundance I could experience by joining in.
I’m tired of missing out. I’m tired of having fun ideas to post about and letting too much time pass and it’s no longer relevant. I’m tired of getting excited about sharing something the Lord’s put on my heart and talking myself out of doing so. I’m tired of thinking, and not doing.
So I’m stepping out. Stepping out from the fear because I won’t let it be king anymore, and instead stepping out in faith, because if the Lord has called me to this, then whom (or what) shall I fear? Stepping out because I am the girl for the job. There will certainly be failure and setbacks and flops along the way, but “I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:14).
I’ll leave you all with this, in case you need the encouragement to fight your own fears as well:
“Let’s…not be limited by what might come our way. Let’s be…defined by action and activated faith, trusting God and His Word over how things look, how we feel, or what we fear.” -Jess Connolly
Until next time,
P.S. I cannot recommend You Are The Girl For The Job enough for you ladies. You can find out more about the book and order a copy for yourself here.