The true title of this post should be "Looking for Peace (or Happiness)." While thinking about yesterday's post, I remembered an earlier conversation with my pastor that helped to put things in perspective.
Earlier this year, I had a spiritual crisis of sorts. I began feeling stagnant in my walk and was having a hard time with my life at that point. I was crazy busy, teaching full time, taking grad courses online to earn my next level teaching certificate, participating in my ministries at church, volunteering as a coach for a local girl's running program, and trying to run a successful household. I was worn out, but I felt I had to keep going on. After all, these were things I signed up to do. I couldn't NOT do them. People were depending on me.
True, but who was I depending on?
Truth is, I was depending on myself. I hadn't consulted God about whether or not I should volunteer or return to school for extra courses. It took an argument with my husband and a call from my pastor to realize that.
Okay. So why do I keep talking about this argument? Well, in the 15 years my husband and I have been together, I can count on one hand how many times we have had an argument. Seriously. When I tell people that, they can't believe it. It's just that my husband and I really try to work on communication and have success...most of the time. The time on question, however, not so much.
I had reached a particularly frantic time: I had a paper due, reports cards to finish, and other household duties to perform. I was cranky, tired, and short with everyone. I guess the last straw was a comment(?) or question(?) about something, I think. (I really don't remember how the argument started.) Anyhow, fast forward to some comments being said that should have been said long before that point. In short, my husband and I were both unhappy with the extra pressures I put on the family. Due mainly to my selfishness and desire to want to "do it all."
So I filled out a prayer request card during Sunday service at church, basically asking for clarity on how I could improve my marriage. The argument had been a wake-up call. Within a few days, I got a call from my pastor. During the course of the conversation, he pretty much told me he noticed I had lost my joy. Funny. I thought I was doing a pretty good job of hiding how I truly felt most days. Sort of like Emily Freeman in her book Grace for the Good Girl. She talks about how many women wear all sorts of masks to fit in because they are afraid of revealing their true selves. Or more specifically, their true vulnerability.
Ah. That word. What self-proclaimed "made" woman/mom/supermom wants to admit she's vulnerable in areas of her life where she should be deemed successful? Who wants to admit she doesn't have it all together? Most of the time we go along, barely hanging on by a fraying thread but refusing to ask for help that is so readily available from our friends, our family, God. Other times, however, we are dragged along, kicking and screaming, trying to keep up with the pace we ourselves set.
Back to my conversation with my pastor. Sure, I had not been truly happy in a long time. I was too tired to be happy! I had so much going on! But who's fault was it? Mine. Solely mine. My pastor made me realize that by simply asking if I had asked God to take extra courses or coach. Er, um, well...no. I took it upon myself, upon realization that my current certificate would expire in February of next year, to begin courses so I could continue teaching. (Yet here I am now. Ha ha. Good one, God.) And that was the crux of the matter. I didn't ask permission. I was struggling because I was being selfish. My pastor told me that if God deemed it, I could be successful without a certificate; He already had plans for me. The key was trusting in Him. (And asking for forgiveness for my selfishness from everyone it impacted. That was hard, but it had to be done.)
So I began to look at my life and examine areas I needed to address. The largest area was that of my family. I was pouring so much into everything else that I wasn't giving them as much as they needed from me. Priorities were imbalanced and I needed to tilt the scale.
I started by reading through the book I referenced earlier because she sounds so much like me. I'm not someone with a dramatic testimony of a wayward life or habits I needed to break. Many of the books I read about finding yourself and the calling God has for you were unrelatable. But this. This was the one. While reading through the pages and answering the chapter questions I began to see myself as a master in disguise. SO much of what Emily had written was scarily accurate, as if she herself was peeking through my blinds and hiding in my closets. I was definitely in hiding, in fear of being "found out." Afraid of people knowing I don't have it all together and I sometimes need help but am too stubborn to ask for it. Afraid of people finding out my vulnerability. Afraid of allowing God to address that vulnerability.
But with this whole experience, I'm learning to let that pride go. I'm also learning to not be so ultra-planned in my life, to allow things to happen as God sees fit for them to happen, instead of me planning my life and squeezing God in where it's convenient. As one of my favorite blogs stated several months back, "Life is not an emergency."