Seasons

treeseasons

Seasons change.  With that change, there can be pain, there can be hurt, there can be heartache.  We may experience anxiety and trepidation as we sense the impending transition.  Our instinct may be to shy away or retreat to our own comfortable space, where things are safe.  Is that what we actually need to do though?

What if God is calling us against doing just that?  What if He is calling us out of our comfort zones, calling us out from our caves on the cliffs?  What if, instead of retreating in fear, He wants us to lean in with hopeful expectations of what He can and will do?  At the very least, what if we lean in with curiosity and faith – trusting that He really does have everything under control?

That unknown though.  It can be a scary place.  We, generally speaking, like control and to know what’s going to happen next.  We want to know what happens at the end of the book, the last part of the movie.  The unknown is a blank void, the loudest quiet place in the middle of the vast sea – creatures and God knows what else lurking beneath the surface.

Color me guilty.  It’s easy for me to deal with anyone else’s confrontation all day long.  Mine?  No, thank you.  Hard pass.  Depending on the situation, I would rather slink down and let things play out without my intervention or involvement.  That, or I abandon the situation altogether.

To clarify… my lack of involvement shouldn’t be mistaken for apathy or laziness.  Again, it’s quite the opposite and stems from feelings of being overwhelmed and not knowing what will happen next.  I might mess up.  I might fail or fall.  Someone might see that I am *gasp* less than perfect.  My true self may end up being less than what others perceive.  Letting others in and being vulnerable creates space for me to be rejected and abandoned as has happened MANY times before.  I freeze.  I retreat.  I lean out.

This is wrong.  I am one who craves accountability.  I crave knowing that the opportunity to take on new challenges, new roles, to lead and learn and step up…  Why then do I retreat?  It is such a conflicting place to be.

Leaning-Tree

The answer is easy.  My fear is bigger than my faith when I lean out and don’t heed His call or His word.  “But… I’m a ‘good Christian’, right?”  Sure… whatever that means.  I’m also human.  We’ve all had situations we’ve faced where leaning out has felt safer than leaning in.

That couldn’t be further than the truth though.  Our greatest safety net is held by the One who holds the whole universe in His very hands.  When we lean out, we make more room for the world and for ourselves to take control and make mistakes instead of giving it all to our perfect and sovereign God.  Leaning out leaves room for doubt.  Lean in.  It sounds easy, but why then is it so difficult to actually do?

be still

The Bible tells us to “be still” and know that He is God.  It doesn’t say to shy away, retreat, or to take matters into our own hands.  We are told to trust, to listen.  Do we question God?  Sure, at times.  We’re human.  Do we doubt God?  Maybe.  That’s a toughie.  There’s a BIG difference between questioning and doubting God.

Regardless, this is where faith can step in and make a difference, if we choose to let it.  Yes, we have to invite faith into our lives.  It doesn’t just happen naturally.  Just as we have to open our hearts to Jesus, we must do the same with faith.

It isn’t always easy, the path can be a difficult one to follow – but trusting Him with our lives here on Earth makes way for an eternal life full of unimaginable joy.  So, while I can guarantee it won’t always be simple, it will always be worth it.  Give faith a chance and lean in.  Step out of your isolated caves and shadows.  Lean into His love and boundless grace.

The seasons will change.  Transitions will occur.  Things of this earth are impermanent.  One thing remains the same though… God.  His word, his love for us.  He is our constant in an ever-changing world.  That is something to count on.

Lean in.  Be still.

Step out on the edge…

It’s been the year of the hurricane, folks.  At least it has for me!  It’s also been a time of me trusting and stepping out on that edge – having that faith… being *vulnerable*.  It can be an uncomfortable feeling, but hey – faith can be messy.  It can be difficult and evoke feelings that make us want to run in the opposite direction.  

For me, it’s what I do in that situation that defines my faith.  To whom am I listening?  What are my intentions?  What am I afraid of?  Why?

I suppose I should provide some backstory.

*Clears throat*

I’ll start with the last 3 months of 2012 into the new year…  My marriage was put to the test – big time.  Very big time.  The “why” isn’t as important as the “what did you do about it”.  Well, we stuck it out.  Fought TOGETHER through some battles and came out victorious.  There are still little skirmishes pertaining to this war, but the God we serve is greater than anything that can be thrown at us.  I will say that I had a lot of support during this time which was wonderful and so appreciated, so very appreciated.  Another big blessing during this time was our worship family at church.  Man, those people are a BLESSING!  No joke there!  I can say for me that God leads us to places that we need to be at His exact timing.  I kept the happenings at home pretty tight-lipped as far as details go, but still felt such love and sincere, earnest prayer for those who knew anything about the situation.  

Moving along…  

I was working in an AWESOME position as a mental health clinician with a local agency.  I loved my clients, my co-workers were awesome, and everything was going okay – even during the home drama stuff.  Fast forward to May.  My work-world was rocked.  This was just after the home-world was rocked and the storm had calmed.  So May, things weren’t great with work.  There were some *ahem* changes to the budget and my position (along with another team member) was no longer in the budget funding.  

Oh, great.

I had no idea what to do.  At that point, I was the “breadwinner” for the family.  Well, all hope was not lost.  I was offered a lateral position change in a different section of the agency.  I met with the manager there and though he was an incredibly nice guy… I didn’t have PEACE about it.  I had such great anxiety that it felt as if an elephant were sitting on my chest.  Long story made shorter(ish), I’d miss Sunday church 2 – 3 times a month, miss our marrieds group, miss some Wednesdays, Shannon would have had to give up his participation in a VERY HELPFUL men’s support group at church, and I wouldn’t get a chance to participate in an area of church that I had been (and still am!) praying about.  

I emailed the manager and expressed my convictions.  He understood.  I was prepared to not have a job.  Very scary stuff.  So, because things weren’t very stable with what I’d be doing… I made the choice to leave.  I went into private practice for a brief amount of time.  I had a friend at the private agency who moved into another role and there was space for me. I prayed… HARD about this position and it was meant to be – even if only for a short amount of time.  Again, no details on the “what happened” are super necessary to this.  

The important thing is… I stepped out.  WAY out on a ledge of faith.  I was meant to be where I was for a reason.  

I left and began working part-time at my children’s daycare to help with cost and plus – they’re just AWESOME there.  I’d worked here previously.  We’re a big family!  🙂  

So, now… I have been applying and interviewing elsewhere more closely related to my degree.  That’s cool, but like I said… my current job is pretty awesome.  I get along with everyone (no, really!) and it’s just a big ball of positivity.  That makes the decision to leave so very difficult…  It’s no easier the second time around.  

I was offered a position at the agency I left back in July.  Cool, right?  Right.  I’d be working with children and adolescents who have Intellectual Disabilities – very cool indeed.  Plus, I’d get to have some outpatient counseling clients to help with licensure.  I’d get sweet benefits… the insurance is probably a good 10 times better than the pointless policy we have now.  Vacation time… yada yada.  However, I’d lose my staff discount for daycare (womp womp) – which makes the salary change almost equal.  

So, tonight I will probably get very little sleep weighing the options  I have to make.  Oh situational anxiety, how I loathe thee!

Another good leap o’ faith was the choice to audition for a play.  I LOVE acting.  Growing up in rural Alabama, there was little opportunity for me to participate due to lack of theatre activity and my crazy childhood.  That’s another post, friends.  So anyway, I auditioned with Open Air Shakespeare (holla!) for their production of The Winter’s Tale and got a part!  Not only a part, but THE part I wanted.  Double holla!  

Next leap of faith in progress is to audition for my fantastic church’s even more fantastic worship team.  Yeah, we’ll see how that goes!  But… that’s just that inner negative voice speaking up.  I’ve done vocal ensembles before… no biggie.  It’s the audition part that weirds me out.  More on that later.  I should audition late December/early January.  

This was a ridiculously long post… sorry about that!

God is doing SO much in my life and I am going to start to reap the benefits of my faith seeds that were sown.  

We all have our hurricane… be it job loss, marital issues, finances, child stress… whatever.  The important thing to remember is that we always have the opportunity to step out and trust that He will be there to catch us and protect us from the wind, the stinging rain, the painful hail…  We are NEVER alone and always have a loving God standing with us, ready to face the storm right along with us, willing to help guide us through.

“It’s never too late
Never too far
For you to reach out

And take ahold of love.”

-Natalie Grant “Hurricane”