I was having an evening of lots of thoughts running through my head, and as I sat, dumping things on paper, I realized that it’s been a while since I’ve really sat down to write. And when I logged into my blog, and I realized that the last time that I had posted anything was 2 years ago, so definitely a very dry and challenging season in life. I’ve found that I do well writing for a while, but I always seem to lose steam. However, after an afternoon with friends that started with “Let’s play games for a couple of hours,” ending 5 hours later after some really deep and honest conversations about life, I felt encouraged to re-engage in something deeper. Reminding me that my soul needs those types of connections and relationships.
Thinking about the past two years and all the transitions that had happened, I’m not surprised that I had withdrawn from engagement and really exploring life. The company that I worked for since moving to Seattle went through a buyout, and an increasingly toxic work environment developed due to the new management. I knew I needed to find a new job. But first, I needed to find a new roommate, and after several frustrating months of interviewing people, I eventually had to find a place for me and my cat. Apartment hunting and moving. Next up: focusing on job hunting. Company then imploded, leaving me unemployed, scrambling for a job. Fortunately, I did some contract work to pay bills while I job hunted, so I could be picky, but it was several months of interviews and networking. Then I started a new job in October (YAY!!), but training and meeting all sorts of new people was draining.
So yeah, a lot of life transitions. And being an introvert, I had extended myself for such a long time with putting myself out there in both my home and work life, I had to take a lot of time to re-charge and heal from all of the stress. My soul was so drained, but now, I’m feeling like I’m ready to tackle things that I have avoided. Doing something new that challenges me. Picking up a book that I can chew on, instead of just reading to escape. Writing more.
My faith community has been so encouraging to me during this season. Praying for me, listening, and allowing me to step back and take care of myself. I would not have survived without them.
Now to proceed with care and to allow myself the grace when I need to rest.
One of the hardest things I have ever had to learn to say is the word “no”. I hate turning people down, but learning to set a strong boundary for myself is important. Growing up, I didn’t learn to say “no” very well. I remember my parents saying “yes” to all of these activities, but rarely saying “no” to spending time for themselves.
This really ties into my being a people pleaser. I want to say “yes” to everyone, because I’m afraid of what they will think if I say “no“. I want to portray that I’m accessible all of the time, and always available to help. To show that I have a “servants’ heart” for others. Because when I do, I look good to others. My actions are good, but the intentions are all wrong.
I’ve had to learn to not feel guilty when I say “no”. It has sucked at times, but the more I do it, the easier it gets. Periodically, I fall back into saying “yes” too much, so I have to be careful and be self-aware of my boundaries.
When I know my boundaries, and how to say “no”, I can say “yes” to things I truly love. To be able to get deep in a few things instead of shallow with many. I won’t be spread as thin. I would have time to breath. And I can enjoy the spontaneous things in life that come up when you have time and energy. Life is much better with balance.
Last weekend, I had the opportunity to help organize and attend a retreat for our post-college/pre-family ministry at my church. It was truly a retreat. Most of the time, people say “retreat” and there is so much stuff jam-packed into the weekend, that you have to come home to relax. I’m definitely at the age where I benefit from digging into things on my own. Being inundated with all sorts of good information isn’t beneficial when I don’t take time to process it.
The theme of the weekend was “Imago Dei” which translates into “Image of God”. How am I a reflection of God? Do I see myself as God sees me? How does God see me? I dug deep and hard in my mind and heart. Shed many tears, and cried out to God. Reflecting on a lot of things.
I have a tendency of worrying about what everyone else thinks of me, but not what God thinks. A couple of days before the retreat, I had coffee with a good friend of mine, and in our conversation, they brought up the point we were both people pleasers. I’ve never wanted to admit that I am. But, when I had a chance to process, I had to truly admit it and own it. I worry that I won’t be accepted, that I’m not doing good job. That I try and reflect the image of those who are around me, and not the image of God. Growing up, I always felt like an outsider in social circles; awkward, lonely, and not having many close friends. This shaped and affected me deeply. And when I would actually develop good friends, I would want to please them. Putting up a front and seeking their approval, because I was afraid that I would lose them.
Being aware and admitting this helps me to move forward. I know it will take time, and as I’m still processing, I pray that God will transform me. Learning why I do the things I do, and learning to reflect God completely. To not worry about what others think, but that the only one who matters is God.
I admit, I rather suck at discipline. I find all the excuses in the world to not do a discipline, even though I know fully well that it is good for me. I’m pretty stubborn and set in my ways, and I find it difficult to upend myself and do major changes. I get overwhelmed with all that I need to do, that I shut down, and don’t do anything at all.
However, I have discovered that if I do little changes at a time, I am much more likely to move forward to a larger goal. For example, I’m working on getting healthier, and breaking down what I need to do to achieve that goal, makes it more manageable. Taking walks during lunch a few times a week, packing healthier snacks and lunches, and drinking more water while I’m at work, are a few of my small goals.
Also, when I do personal disciplines, I am doing something for myself. Such as going to bed at a decent hour. When I get enough sleep, I’m much more aware of myself and those around me. I make better decisions, and react much better to situations around me. And when I take care of me better, I have more energy to invest in the lives of others and in my relationship with God. When I’m not focused on God, I miss out one what He has in store for me. How He wants to change me and mold me. To be the woman, the daughter, He has intended for me to be.