My favorite line from one of my favorite songs is: “How can I be lost when You have called me found?” – Fierce, Jesus Culture
It is a powerful concept, but even as a dedicated Christian with a healthy prayer life, I have often felt lost. Even in the midst of the Lord’s presence, I have had my moments of feeling as though I don’t measure up. In these moments I am convinced that I have disappointed God, even as I preach to others that the very idea of such a thing is impossible with God. And then I feel like a fraud and tell myself I have no business preaching His Word when I can’t even believe it for myself.
I operated like this, while doing ministry, for about a year. Is it any wonder I got burnt out and started questioning God’s goodness and, at times, His very existence?
Which brings me to here…
I am now in a season of life where God is teaching me that it’s okay to not be perfect. Last year was my year of sacrifice, a year of letting go. It took me until December 30th to really get it, to realize that through all the sacrifices I had to make in 2016, it all led to that moment when I had to let go of the one thing I was holding onto with the greatest fervor: my ambition.
That’s a scary thing for someone with a Type A personality who also happens to be a notorious people pleaser with a calling for full-time ministry. But I finally reached the point where I realized that this had created a perfect storm that could only end in defeat.
I was like Peter when he stepped out of the boat – I took my eyes of Jesus, who was the very reason I stepped out of the boat in the first place, and I started to sink.
The truly disparaging part of it all is that while I was chasing ambition on this path leading to defeat, I was moving further and further from my foundation in Christ and building my house on shifting sand.
When your house is built on such shaky ground, the walls crumble, and it took a tragedy to make me see it.
A little more than a month ago my children lost their biological father to cirrhosis. Seeing their pain opened my eyes to more than I ever could have imagined, including everything I’ve done, or failed to do for my family while chasing my ambitions.
I also realized that in chasing ministry I was also neglecting my other baby: writing. God never called me to be busy. He never said “Thou shalt volunteer for every single opportunity that presents itself.” I suppose, in some ways, I was pulling a Sarah and Abraham by not trusting that God’s promises always come true and that it has to happen in His way and on His timing.
I was trying to make ministry happen through the strength of my own abilities and by trusting in other people, and in doing so I wasn’t writing the book He wanted me to write and I wasn’t building the ministry he wanted me to build. And the most important ministry I have been called to – my family – was not in its intended place of hierarchy.
All of this has led to a decision that in some ways has been the most difficult decision I’ve ever had to make, but at the same time the easiest…My last day of work was 2 days ago, as Mike and I have decided that my number one priority is being a mom. But because I’m me (haha) and I can’t not work, I’m also doing freelance work: graphic design, web design, copywriting, ghost writing, editing, book design. I have one client, and I’m putting my marketing experience to work to get more.
But through it all I’m being reminded to keep it all in balance. I also have a book to write, 40 lbs to lose, and I remain open to whatever ministry opportunities God wants to throw my way. I am not seeking opportunities as I did before; I’m simply waiting for God to show me. That’s really hard for me, but it’s also easy and brings much-needed peace to my tired soul.
The pressure is off. In so many ways.
My husband and I have also been attending a different church where we are able to simply show up on Sunday and get fed as we focus on our first ministry: family! It’s been difficult to step back, and we miss seeing our friends every Sunday, but we are being obedient to God by getting our house in order.
Yesterday I started the first day of the rest of my (renewed) life with an hour-long walk in the beautiful Arizona weather as I chatted with God and He assured me that my time of striving is over, and if I trust in Him, the pieces will all come together.
I am still terrified. It’s scary to give up a steady paycheck, and even scarier to go out on my own when I can’t see the path in front of me. But I suppose that’s the whole point – it isn’t trust if it doesn’t require steps of faith. Besides, being “found” means we are never alone.
And last night at dinner I received undeniable confirmation that I was on the right track and in God’s will: When my 12-year-old told us the high and low of her day (a dinner time tradition) her answer was this:
“My high was seeing Mom when I came home from school, and then going to work out together, and then cooking dinner together. That was it. I didn’t even have a low today.”
Nothing more needed to be said. I think that statement right there will make all the nights we’ll have to eat rice and beans more than worth it.